7 Best 4th Of July Celebrations In New England Leave a comment

Independence Day is enthusiastically celebrated across the United States. We have assembled some of our favorite New England 4th of July celebrations, places where you can immerse yourself in the historical significance of our colonial roots and have a ton of old-fashioned, Independence Day celebration fun!

These large cities and small towns celebrate the 4th with a bang! Main Street parades, carnivals, barbecues, performances, and fireworks displays are the entertainment of the day. Downtown businesses and patriotic homes are all decked out in traditional red, white, and blue bunting.

You can still find a few potato sack races, blueberry pancake breakfast events, firemen barbecue lunches, free concerts, and an occasional road race included in the 4th of July festivities across New England. Perfect for celebrating a day of family fun and recreation.

1. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Harborfest 2021 and the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular are the two biggest 4th of July celebrations in New England. 

Boston Harborfest celebrates the city’s colonial history and maritime heritage with events that begin July 1. The celebration kicks off in Downtown Crossing with speeches, colonial costumed actors, an artisan market, and live musical performances. Other festivities throughout the week include a Classic Car Showcase, a Float Your Boat Parade, and Freedom Trail tours.

The July 4th celebration includes a parade from City Hall Plaza to the historic Granary Burying Ground, the resting place of many patriots, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence. Buried here are Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine, along with Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin’s parents, and victims of the Boston Massacre. Strolling through Granary is like a stroll through patriotic history. At the end of the parade, the reading of the Declaration of Independence reminds us why our 4th of July celebrations are so important.

The day’s celebration is capped off by the Boston Pops Concert and a spectacular 4th of July fireworks show. The fireworks display is typically scheduled to be held on barges in the Charles River, however, this year the fireworks display will be held on Boston Common.

The July 4th Pops Concert is the highlight of Boston’s celebration. This year, the Boston Pops will perform its annual July 4th concert at Tanglewood in Lenox, its summer concert venue. Tickets are required for this free event. The Boston Pops has lined up a star-studded guest list, including Jon Batiste, bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and singer Mavis Staples. The concert and fireworks will be televised live from Tanglewood and Boston Common.

Where To Eat And Stay

The Marriott Vacation Club Pulse in Boston is located in the historic Custom House. Luxury and elegance in the center of the city with views of the Boston skyline or Boston Harbor make this a perfect spot to anchor your city visit. Peruse our list of The 11 Best Boston Restaurants, it will help you narrow down the excellent dining options Boston has to offer.

Bristol 4th of July Celebration.
Courtesy of Nat V. Squatrito

2. Bristol, Rhode Island

Established in 1785, the Bristol 4th of July Celebration is undoubtedly the oldest American Independence Day celebration. The Bristol celebration is one of the largest in the country, and festivities begin weeks before the actual date. The Fourth of July Ball, the Miss and Little Miss Pageant, and the Orange Crate Derby are held mid-June and amp up the red, white, and blue spirit.

Bristol’s celebratory concert series features two weeks of concerts beginning in June. The concerts are free and are held on the Roger Williams University campus. Bring your chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets (although there are food vendors on-site) to enjoy an evening of music. The New Providence Big Band kicks off the series on Sunday, June 20. Other bands run a range of genres including Barefoot Rebel, a ’70s Lynyard Skynyrd tribute band; Changes in Latitude, a Jimmy Buffett tribute show; and Reminisce, a ’50s and ’60s oldies group; just to highlight a few.

Bristol’s traditional July 4th parade begins at 10:30 a.m. and includes bands and drum corps from across the United States, a myriad of floats, local dignitaries, and the usual vendor carts with fun and patriotic doodads. Bristol’s Annual Patriotic Exercises are the key to its celebration longevity, first held in 1785. A celebrated Patriotic Speaker kicks off the festivities. (In 2021, the Patriotic Celebration will take place on July 5.)

Where To Eat And Stay

The William’s Grant Inn is a charming bed and breakfast where you can settle in and feel right at home yet still be within walking distance to downtown. Locals recommend SS Dion, where you can enjoy fabulous local seafood with views of Bristol Harbor.

Bar Harbor 4th Celebration, Maine.
Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce

3. Bar Harbor, Maine

Celebrate America’s Independence the DownEast way in Bar Harbor, which is all decked out in red, white, and blue bunting. The Bar Harbor 4th Celebration begins at 9 a.m. with a local artisan craft fair. Their Independence Day Parade showcases the best of the best of DownEast Maine. The event is culminated by a waterfront fireworks display over beautiful Frenchman Bay. The fireworks are scheduled to begin around 9:15 p.m., and you will want to find a great seat for the show.

Where To Eat And Stay 

The area offers a wide selection of campgrounds and cottages for your quintessential, nature-focused Maine stay. You don’t need to pack a full set of camping gear to enjoy a cottage getaway. Of course, fresh caught Maine lobster is a must and you will find lots of great options like Bar Harbor Lobster Co. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a lobster dinner with your traveling companions. You can cap off the festivities with a friendly pie-eating contest that puts fresh Maine blueberries front and center. Grab a slice at Sunrise Cafe and enjoy those beautifully tart little berries.

3D fireworks display, Quassy Amusement Park, Middlebury, Connecticut.
Ron Gustafson / Quassy Amusement Park

4. Middlebury, Connecticut

Three Dimensional Fireworks take center stage in the Middlebury Independence Day Celebration. On Saturday, July 3, with the help of 3D viewing glasses, the spectacular show can be experienced as the display is launched from barges in Lake Quassapaug. Quassy Amusement Park has been delivering its 3D fireworks for almost 20 years. It deploys regular fireworks, and with the help of its diffraction lens viewing glasses, each shell explosion appears as multiple fireworks explosions. The resulting experience is a unique fireworks show to behold, including a brilliant display of dripping lights.

Plan to spend your day at this attraction’s two great parks. Quassy has an amusement park and a water park offering fun in the sun for the entire family.

Proceeds from the fireworks event benefit Give Kids The World Village, a nonprofit resort based in Florida that provides free vacations for critically ill children and their families.

Where To Eat And Stay

Exploring Quassy Amusement Park and Water Park is a fun way to enjoy a multigenerational celebration. Vrbo offers a premier hosted option that sleeps eight for the perfect family getaway in close by Woodbury. Take the gang out to The Laurel Diner for classic breakfast fare in nearby Southbury.

5. Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

Grab a blanket and find a spot in the sand or gather round the car for a tailgate fireworks display. Hampton Beach sends up fireworks most Wednesday nights during the summer, but the 4th of July display is a special toes-in-the-sand fireworks event.

Spend the holiday relaxing at the beach and soaking up brilliant July sunshine. You can plan ahead and scout out the perfect viewing spot near the top of B and C Streets before the fireworks display begins. There is something extra special about lying on a beach under the stars.

Where To Eat And Stay

Learn all about where to eat, stay, and play in How To Spend A Day In Quaint Hampton Beach.

Fireworks display, Burlington’s Independence Day Celebration.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort

6. Burlington And Jefferson, Vermont

Burlington’s Independence Day Celebration has something for everyone. Beginning on Saturday, July 3, you have access to live music performances, an airshow, food vendors, and a spectacular fireworks display over Lake Champlain. For July 4th firework displays, head over to Smugglers’ Notch, just over 20 miles from Burlington, for an old-fashioned fireman’s barbecue and evening fireworks.

Where To Eat And Stay

The Best Things To Do In Burlington, Vermont, is an excellent guide on where to eat, stay, and play in the area.

7. Gorham, New Hampshire

Experience a good old-fashioned, hometown 4th of July Celebration in Gorham. Running July 1 through July 3, the Gorham town common is hosting a carnival with midway rides, fun celebratory eats, and live music. On Saturday, there is a local 4th of July parade and evening fireworks. Gorham’s hometown celebration is the epitome of American pride, honoring our heritage and freedom. 

Where To Eat And Stay

If you ask a local where to stay in Gorham, they will recommend the Top Notch Inn. After a day of celebrating America’s independence, relax in the pool or enjoy your preferred adult beverage around the fire pit. Dine at Saalt & Libby’s for a delicious culinary adventure, where you will experience celebrated local ingredients that let New Hampshire’s natural gifts shine.

American flag at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachussets.
American flag at Boston’s Fenway Park (Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett)

More On New England 4th Of July Celebrations

Across New England, you can find patriotic, small town 4th of July celebrations, and big city, flag-waving celebration events. These annual events happen due to the commitment of volunteers who believe in the American dream while fostering patriotism and sharing their time and talents to celebrate this important date in U.S. history. No matter where you are across this great country, or across the world, wave a flag and celebrate our independence with pride.

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