You need four things on the Fourth: flags, fireworks, music and a big party. And those won’t be hard to find around Houston.
On Thursday, the biggest party in town is Southwest Freedom Over Texas in Eleanor Tinsley Park. Sheryl Crowand Martina McBride headline a show that will end with fireworks lighting up the downtown skyline. But before nightfall, it’s a something-for-everyone extravaganza.
Watch musicians and magicians, dancers and DJs, athletes and aviators. Test your skills on an obstacle course and an 85-foot zip line. Get autographs from former NFL players or see vintage aircraft – on the ground and overhead – from the Lone Star Flight Museum.
The kids can check out free rides and games, arts and crafts from the Orange Show and a Family Fitness Challenge from Houston’s pro sports teams.
Freedom Over Texas
When: 4-10 p.m. Thursday
Where: Eleanor Tinsley Park, 500 Allen Parkway
Admission: $8 (5 and younger free)
Details: Don’t bring pets, coolers, outside food, alcohol or big umbrellas. freedomovertexas.org
But that’s not the only game around town. Plenty of other patriotic parties are planned – and there’s probably one near you. Here are your best options for free fireworks and fun:
ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights: A Star Spangled Salute
What: The Houston Symphony‘s patriotic concert ends with fireworks and the cannon-blasting “1812 Overture.”
When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive
Details: Hillside seating is open (bring a lawn chair or blanket). Covered seating requires a free ticket (limit four per adult at the box office between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday). milleroutdoortheatre.com
Fourth of July on the Kemah Boardwalk
What: Live music and a fireworks show over Galveston Bay.
When: 9:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Kemah Boardwalk, 215 Kipp, Kemah
Red, Hot & Blue Festival
What: Live music, games, face painting and activities for kids, with a fireworks display at dusk. Music will be simulcast on Sunny 99.1 FM.
When: 6-10 p.m. Thursday
Where: Town Green Park and Waterway Square, The Woodlands
Details: Fireworks will come from two places – the east side of Timberloch Place and the Waterway Plaza Parking Garage. No pets or outside food and drinks. RedHotBlue.org
Pearland Celebration of Freedom
What: Texas Unlimited Band performs before the fireworks begin.
When: 6 p.m. Thursday; fireworks at 9 p.m.
Where: Pearland High School football stadium, 3775 S. Main
Details: Buy food or bring your own. Don’t bring alcohol, glass containers, pets or tobacco. pearlandparks.com
Missouri City 4th of July Celebration
What: Before the fireworks, Missouri City’s celebration offers a zip line, a climbing wall, mechanical bulls and more.
When: 6 p.m. Thursday; fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m.
Where: Buffalo Run Park, 1122 Buffalo Run
Details: Food available from vendors. Park at Thurgood Marshall High School next to the park. missouricitytx.gov
What: Live music from the Grooves Band and fireworks at this shopping and dining complex.
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: CityCentre, 800 Town and Country
Details: Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. citycentrehouston.com
Galveston Fourth of July parade
What: A parade along Seawall Boulevard ends with a fireworks show over the water.
When: Parade at 7:45 p.m. Fireworks at 9:15 p.m.
Where: Seawall Boulevard between 28th and 59th, Galveston
Details: Don’t park along Seawall Boulevard; it’ll become a no-parking zone at 4 p.m. galveston.com
Katy Freedom Celebration
What: The city’s annual fireworks display.
When: 9 p.m. Thursday
Where: Katy Mills Mall, 5000 Katy Mills Circle
Details: Fireworks launch from the east side of the mall, near Katy Fort Bend Road. Bring a lawn chair and park in the mall lot or nearby. cityofkaty.com
LaCenterra’s Big Backyard Barbecue
What: Barbecue, kids’ activities and live music end with a big fireworks display at this shopping and dining center in Cinco Ranch.
When: 5:30-9:45 p.m. Thursday
Where: LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch, 23501 Cinco Ranch, Katy
Details: Buy food there or pack a picnic. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair. No outside alcohol allowed.lacenterra.com
Pasadena 4th Fest
What: A day-to-night party with live music, a car show, kids’ activities, a barbecue cook-off, water-balloon war and more. Fireworks wrap it all up after dark.
When: 4-10 p.m. Thursday
Where: Pasadena Convention Center, 7902 Fairmont Parkway
Details: There’ll be shade, misting stations and free bottled water. Kids’ activities are mostly inside.fun.pasadenatexas.net
Kings Harbor fireworks show
What: Still want to celebrate on Friday? This live rockabilly show from the John Evans Band wraps up with a fireworks show over Lake Houston.
When: 7-10 p.m. Friday
Where: Kings Harbor Waterfront Village, 1660 W. Lake Houston Parkway, Kingwood
Details: Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. kings-harbor.com