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NYC beach coney island
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The best 4th of July events in NYC

Here are the top 4th of July events in NYC for making the most of America's Independence this year

By Tolly Wright, Jennifer Picht and Shaye Weaver
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It’s America’s big day, and although things are a little different this year, it doesn't mean you can't have a good time. Head to one of Gotham’s best beaches, grab your sunscreen and your sunnies and prepare for some fun in the sun. After gorging on red, white and blue treats and drinks, settle in for the night to watch the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks or sail around NYC.

RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the 4th of July in NYC

Best 4th of July events

Mayor De Blasio, NYC, Macy’s, Fourth Of July, East River, FDR Drive, Brooklyn
Photograph: Kent Miller/Macy’s

1. The Macy's 4th of July fireworks

Things to do

Macy's 4th of July Fireworks is happening on four nights to celebrate the Fourth of July, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The shows, which will be five minutes each, will take place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, June 29 - July 1,  across the five boroughs. The time and location of each show won't be released until the night of so as to avoid making crowds in any one place, the mayor announced.  "It will be brief bursts, brief but mighty," he said about the shows. "This is not like what you're seeing with the illegal fireworks, you'll know this is a very professional, beautiful show."

Macy's says thousands of shells will be fired into the sky, up to 1,000 feet, per minute at each borough's selected locations.

The finale will take place on the Fourth of July, from 8 to 10pm, from the Empire State Building. You can tune into NBC to watch the show that will include tape from the previous nights.

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championships
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2. Nathan’s hot dog eating contest

News Eating

Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest will live on. The Coney Island spectacle typically attracts more than 20,000 people watching competitive eaters downing hot dogs during the 10-minute contest with an even larger audience tuning in on national television. While the championship will live on despite the current crisis, there will be one missing component: an audience. ESPN will air the showdown live on July Fourth beginning at noon ET, but the location will be kept a secret to ward off crowds. In past years, people would start lining up at 8 a.m. along Stillwell and Surf Avenues for a prime seat, but organizers wanted to make sure this year’s event would take place in a more controlled environment with social distancing and health risks in mind.

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A March to Honor Black and Indigenous Activist
Photograph: Courtesy A March to Honor Black and Indigenous Activist

3. Confronting July 4th: A March to Honor Black & Indigenous Activists

Things to do Fort Greene Park, Fort Greene

A coalition of lesbian and queer activists, filmmakers and historians are organizing a protest march to honor Black and indigenous activists on the Fourth of July. They'll meet at Fort Greene Park at Willoughby Ave. at 2:30pm and march to Prospect Park's 15th Street entrance. A rally with speakers, performers and DJs will take place at 5pm in the park. Wear a mask. Organizers say they "refuse to celebrate the whitewashing of this country. Instead, we will joyously and actively celebrate and honor the ancestors and activists who have fought and continue to fight tirelessly for the lives and rights of the people."

Ethel's Club Outdoor Market
Photograph: Courtesy Ethel's Club

4. Ethel's Club Outdoor Market

Shopping Ethel's Club, East Williamsburg

Enjoy a day of reclaiming Black liberation through a socially-distanced outdoor market and celebration space by Ethel's Club, showcasing local brands and restaurants by Black people and people of color. All safety guidelines will be followed. Visitors will have access to free water, gloves and masks. 

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Twin Star Orchards Pig Roast
Photograph: Courtesy Twin Star Orchards

5. Fourth of July pig roast

Things to do Brooklyn Cider House, Bushwick

New Paltz's Twin Star Orchards’ annual Fourth of July Pig Roast is back with 210 acreas of orchards and open green spaces perfect for a socially distanced picnic. Bring your family or your dog for the pig roast, which will have live music and Brooklyn Cider House cider to celebrate from 4 to 8pm. Enjoy slow roasted pork sandwiches ($14) and platters ($17) both accompanied by housemade coleslaw and sweet Hawaiian buns, plus a free cider tasting with advance ticket purchase. The Michael Sarian Acoustic Quartet will perform until 7pm. The event is free to attend but tickets are required to pre-order a pig roast platter or sandwich and receive a free hard cider tasting. Twin Star Orchards is just 90 minutes from the city.

New York City Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Go swimming at a NYC beach

News City Life

We'll finally be able to swim at New York City beaches, just in time for the Fourth of July.

The opening comes just as temperatures are reaching the high 80s and low 90s this week and New Yorkers are eager to celebrate the Fourth. 

"The lifeguards are ready to go, training is being completed...it will be a great day for New York City and another part of our comeback and a great opportunity for people to stay cool," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "It will be wonderful to be able to go back in the water ... and we are able to do it because this city got healthier and healthier over the past few weeks."

So, while beaches will be fully open to swimming, there will still be rules to follow: Beach-goers should only visit with members of their immediate household; They must keep six feet from people while swimming and on beaches and boardwalks; they have to keep beach blankets and chairs separate; and wear a mask whn they can't distance themselves.

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