Where to watch fireworks in North Carolina on the Fourth of July

Where to watch fireworks in North Carolina on the Fourth of July

By Ryan Pitkin

July 3, 2024

These 12 fireworks shows put on the most dazzling displays in North Carolina for Independence Day.

[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the date of Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock. That performance is July 19. Cardinal & Pine sincerely regrets the error.]

Most Americans learn pretty early on in life that we celebrate Independence Day on July 4 to commemorate the passage of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on that day — or thereabouts — in 1776. 

What people aren’t so clear about is what happened after that. The passage of the Declaration of Independence did not mark the end of the Revolutionary War that American colonists fought to gain independence from England; that wouldn’t come to pass until 1783. 

With that in mind, when did Americans start to observe July 4 as their Independence Day? Well, they certainly didn’t wait around for General Cornwallis to surrender in 1981, never mind the peace treaty that would follow two years later. 

With Congress still occupied with the ongoing war, residents of Philadelphia and Boston marked the one-year anniversary of the signing on July 4, 1777. While it may be unsurprising that Independence Day had its start in those two cities, it’s harder to guess where the third federally recognized observance took place: New Bern, North Carolina. 

The fine folks at Tryon Palace in New Bern pay homage to this rich history each year with a reading of the Declaration of Independence by a costumed interpreter, demonstrations at the encampment, Fife & Drum Corps performances, the firing of the muskets, and, of course, free Pepsi products (New Bern’s other place in history is as the birthplace of Pepsi, but that’s whole other article). 

But what about fireworks? It’s reported that America’s first vice president John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776, the day after the Declaration was drafted, stating, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” 

Today, 248 years later, you can find all of the aforementioned displays as part of Independence Day observances, but let’s be honest: We’re here for the illuminations. We’ve put together a list of 12 of North Carolina’s best fireworks shows — or shews, as Adams spelled it — spread across different regions of the state so you can be sure to find one near you. 

Best Fireworks Shows in Western North Carolina

Ingles Independence Day Celebration

Pack Square Park, 80 Court Plaza, Asheville

July 4, 4-10 p.m.

Downtown Asheville will be buzzing all afternoon and evening on July 4, with Pack Square Park serving as the epicenter. Catch live music at the park from 4-9 p.m. alongside Ultimate Air Dogs and children’s activities, followed by a fireworks spectacle starting at 9 p.m. Pro tip: If you can still snatch a reservation on the patio at Twisted Laurel’s across the street, it’s the best seat in the city. 

Fireworks Extravaganza at Tweetsie

Tweetsie Railroad, 300 Tweetsie Railroad Lane, Blowing Rock

July 4, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Billed as the largest fireworks show in the High Country, the Wild West theme park with the iconic train will be open for extended hours on July 4, ending with a fireworks exhibition that starts at 9:30 p.m. If you’re there with the family earlier in the day, just stop by the ticket office to get your hand-stamped on your way out so you can come back at night for the show. 

Valdese Independence Day Celebration

Valdese Old Rock School, 400 W. Main St., Valdese

June 18, 6:45-11 p.m.

This special edition of the Family Friday Nights concert series features one of the most popular annual fireworks displays in the area, with organizers setting the explosive bursts at a lower altitude, which allows for a variety of swirls and explosions of color. 

Fireworks Shows in Western North Carolina

Fun Fourth Festival

Downtown Greensboro

July 4, 1-6 p.m.

Talk about a full day of fun. Thursday is an all-day event starting with the Freedom Run — with options for a 5K, 10K, or 1-Mile Fun Run — starting at 7:30 a.m. After that, the Freedom Fest block party begins, with the annual “Red, White and Say ‘I Do'” free wedding event, where an officiant, music, flowers, and mini-reception are all provided for couples ready to tie the knot. Fireworks complete the day after the Greensboro Grasshoppers game.

July 4th Fireworks in Chapel Hill

Southern Community Park, 100 Sumac Road, Chapel Hill

July 4, 9 p.m.

Once ranked by Travel + Leisure as one of “America’s Top Ten Best Towns for a July Fourth Celebration,” Chapel Hill continues to impress year after year with its firework spectacular, best viewed from the Southern Community Park ball fields and around the Southern Village Green. Bonus pick: If you’re nearby in the state capitol and don’t want to traipse over to Chapel Hill, hop a shuttle to Dorothea Dix Park instead for games, live music, food trucks, and a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. 

Independence Day Celebration on the Lake

Satterwhite Point at Kerr Lake, 6470 Satterwhite Point Rd, Henderson

July 6, 6-10 p.m.

You know the best thing about watching fireworks on the water? Thanks to the reflections, it’s like two shows in one. Bring your own chair or blanket to watch fireworks soar over the lake after an evening of live music, food, vendors, and more.

Skyshow Charlotte

Levine Avenue of the Arts, Uptown Charlotte

July 4, after the baseball game

The festivities begin when the Charlotte Knights host the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp at Truist Field in Uptown Charlotte. The night concludes with one of the largest fireworks shows in the Southeast, lighting up the skyline after the game. 

Fireworks Shows Along the Coast

Fireworks by the Sea & Boardwalk Blast

Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Cape Fear Boulevard, and Carolina Beach Avenue N.

July 3, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

All summer long, Carolina Beach guests and residents alike can enjoy live music followed by fireworks every Thursday night. That includes a special celebration on July 3; pack a picnic or get takeout from one of the many local restaurants. Enjoy tunes from Port City Shakedown, a high-energy seven-piece party/dance band that will have you on your feet until the fireworks start. 

North Carolina 4th of July Festival

Downtown Southport

June 28-July 4

For more than 220 years, Southport has celebrated the nation’s Independence Day in a big way, earning the designation of North Carolina’s official Fourth of July celebration. Events span several days, featuring picnics, arts and crafts in the park, a car show, a parade, fireworks, a firemen’s competition, children’s games, live entertainment, food, and more. The finale, the largest of the planned events, takes place July 4 at the Southport Waterfront.

Wilmington Pops

Wilmington Riverfront, Historic Downtown Wilmington

July 4, 5-9:25 p.m.

Experience historic downtown Wilmington throughout the afternoon, then enjoy a family-friendly program at Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. At 9:05 p.m., they’ll start launching fireworks from a barge as it floats along the Cape Fear River.

Corolla Independence Day Celebration

Historic Corolla Park, 1160 Village Lane, Corolla

July 4, 5-9 p.m.

Celebrate America’s independence with live music and a fireworks show on the northern Outer Banks. The event features food vendors, a cornhole tournament, a watermelon-eating contest, and children’s games.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Where to watch fireworks in North Carolina on the Fourth of JulyWhere to watch fireworks in North Carolina on the Fourth of July

READ MORE: 10 quirky summer festivals coming to North Carolina

Author

  • Ryan Pitkin

    Ryan Pitkin is a writer and editor based in Charlotte, where he runs an alternative weekly newspaper called Queen City Nerve. He is also editor of NoDa News, a community newsletter in the neighborhood where he has lived for 15 years.

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