How to Celebrate the Fourth of July in Chicago this Year

Here’s how to watch fireworks and party on the Fourth of July in Chicago this year.

4th of July from the Chicago River
4th of July from the Chicago River | Gunther Allen/Shutterstock
4th of July from the Chicago River | Gunther Allen/Shutterstock

While pandemic restrictions may have waned and the state of the country is spurring newfound interest in moving to Canada, it's still America’s 245th birthday—and at this point, we’ll take any excuse to drink sparkling rosé under a pyrotechnics display. After a comparatively dim year in 2021, Fourth of July fireworks and entertainment are back, ready to light up the sky and send your dogs into an anxious tailspin. Whether your idea of a festive Fourth entails cruising aboard a Bravo-caliber yacht, feasting on fancy hot dogs, or cramming into Navy Pier with Times Square-level crowds, we’ve got your holiday needs covered. Here's how—and where—to celebrate the Fourth of July in Chicago this year.

Saturday, July 2 - Sunday, July 3
DuSable Harbor
You may want to pregame with some Red Bull if you want to stay up late enough to bask in the luxury of a fireworks-themed late-night departure with Chicago Party Boat. Setting sail at 12:30 am on the weekend of the Fourth, booze cruises are on four-story 192-foot luxury yachts, so you can pretend you’re on Below Deck while dancing to DJs and hitting up any of the multiple bars.
Cost: Tickets are $75 per person

Saturday, July 2
Navy Pier
Every holiday has its own Chicago spectacle: for St. Patrick’s Day, the river turns Ninja Turtle-green. For Thanksgiving, State Street gets its own float-filled parade. For Christmas, Daley Plaza turns into a German holiday village wafting with mulled wine. But the Fourth belongs to Navy Pier. After the grand fireworks display from the pier were shelved last year, the show is back on for 2022, and folks are encouraged to arrive early to smoosh themselves into a prime viewing spot. The explosive show starts at 9:30 pm, and guests can snag diffraction glasses at the pier to “add an exciting layer of visual interest to the fireworks display,” whatever that means.
Cost: Free

Saturday, July 2
Grant Park
Don your finest stars and stripes and convene at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for a pre-holiday musical medley of classic patriotic tunes from the Grant Park Orchestra. Starting at 7:30 pm, the picnic-friendly affair will feature flag-waving tunes like “From Sea to Shining Sea” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Cost: Free

Saturday, July 2 - Monday, July 4
Washington Park
One of the most culturally rich festivals in town is back for the long holiday weekend, as the International Festival of Life spotlights and celebrates Caribbean and African cuisines, music, games, art, and more. Look for DJs and musicians putting on sets of gospel, reggae, R&B, blues, jazz, African, and Latin tunes.
Cost: Tickets start at $25

Sunday, July 3
Commissioners Park, Bridgeview
Get an early jump on the Americana action as the Bridgeview Park District hosts this family-friendly get-together with fireworks, food trucks, glow sticks galore, and… a DJ known as Mike “Italian Stallion.” The fireworks show starts at 9:15 pm.
Cost: Free

Rooftop Cinema Club
Rooftop Cinema Club

Monday, July 4
The Emily Hotel
An essential Fourth of July rewatch, Independence Day is bound to a hit a little different this year in the wake of Will Smith’s Oscars slap, but it’s still an epic blockbuster that conjures the spirit of survival, heroism, and celebration—as the film culminates in a glorious fireworks display over a smoldering spaceship. Plus, Jeff Goldblum looks like a snack. The rooftop terrace at The Emily Hotel in the West Loop is hosting a screening on July 4, with Rooftop Cinema Club, starting at 8 pm.
Cost: Tickets start at $19.75

Evanston Fourth of July Association, Evanston, Illinois
Evanston Fourth of July Association, Evanston, Illinois

Monday, July 4
All over Evanston
The city of Evanston has been going hard for the Fourth since 1922, so this year’s festivities are bound to be extra luminous. There’s a whole day of family fun planned on July 4, including morning games, a fun run, and a band concert, all culminating with lakefront fireworks at 9:30 pm. In honor of the centennial, there will also be a public art project, spotlighting works from local artists inspired by themes like “Stitch of Freedom” and “Indivisible.”
Cost: Free

Monday, July 4
Darien
Gear up for a day-off well spent at the Darien Lions Club’s 51st annual Independence Day Parade. A bill of 60 or so, let’s say, “colorful,” acts are back for more festivities, including the Hinsdale South High School marching band, the Chicago Bears Drumline, the Honey Bear dancers, the antique car-driving Salt Creek Model A Club, a fleet of BMX stunt riders, and a lion mascot, naturally. The rest is up to you.
Cost: Free

Tinley Park - Park District
Tinley Park - Park District

Track down more suburban fireworks shows

Sunday, July 3 - Monday, July 4
Various locations
While Navy Pier is undoubtedly the star attraction of the stars and stripes holiday, there’s plenty of family-friendly explosions happening throughout Chicagoland as well. Make the trip out to see Cook County lit from above by hitting up weekend-long celebrations in Elgin, Lake Forest, Lemont, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Palos Heights, and Tinley Park.
Cost: Admission prices vary

Photo courtesy of Vander Farmers Wagyu

All summer long
Your home
Your holiday grilling traditions just got a serious glow up, thanks to Michigan’s Vander Farmers, a sustainable and ethical dairy and Wagyu farm in Sturgis. The all-American hot dog has got nothing on their Summer Wagyu Grill Box, a Fourth-friendly feast of Wagyu steak dogs, two pounds of Wagyu hamburger beef, and two Wagyu NY strip steaks, all shippable nationwide within two days.
Cost: $130

Eat your way through the 4th at Chicago restaurants

Friday, July 1 - Monday, July 4
Various locations
While it may not have the pumpkin spice or peppermint of other food-centric holidays, the Fourth of July is undoubtedly a prime time to gorge on all-American comfort food. We’re talking hot dogs, burgers, steaks, barbecue, apple pie, and more, all of which you can find on special throughout the holiday weekend. Said specials include bacon waffles with Nashville hot chicken bites for brunch at Bub City Chicago, firecracker brats and triple-berry pies at Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, steaks and lemon-blueberry butter cake from Mastro’s Steakhouse, barbecue ribs and apple pie at Club Lucky, and cupcakes, cookies, and cakes all in red, white, and blue colors at The Goddess and Grocer.
Cost: Menu prices vary

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Matt is a recent transplant to Oklahoma City after two and a half years of RV living, Matt Kirouac is a travel writer
working on a memoir about the epic ups and downs from life on the road as a gay couple—and the lessons learned along the way. Follow him on IG @mattkirouacofficial.