Editor’s note: Due to Covid-19 and social distancing guidelines, nearly all of Chicago’s in-person 4th of July events have been canceled for 2020. We hope to see you back here next year, perusing our guide for the best July 4th festivities.
We will update this story below as we receive news about events that end up getting a green light for 2020 (updates made Jun. 22):
Stars, stripes and so much fun. Soak it all up this Fourth of July, when our country turns the big 2-4-4. While this usually means music, food and fireworks, this year will be slightly different. Fill it with bbq’s at home, virtual celebrations and lots of family togetherness. And, hit Chicago up next year for 4th of July business as usual.
Virtual Fourth of July Events
Concord's Virtual Neighborhood Parade
For the first time ever, Concord's 4th of July Parade is going virtual! Catch all of the events from Concord's Facebook page. Sat. Event details.
Independence Day Party with CAMP and Kroger
It’s a red, white and blue-berry Independence Day party and you’re all invited! Join CAMP and Kroger for an hour of creativity and fun. They'll guide you through DIY tie-dye, participate in an interactive magic show and dance! Fri. Event details.
July 4th Oration—The Struggle for Justice Continues
Using the 1852 address by Douglass as a framework, the Oration examines issues of liberty, citizenship, civic engagement and social responsibility from the historical perspective in light of contemporary injustice. Amidst contemporary crises, Frederick Douglass’s address rings out from history, reminding us we must learn from the past to create the future all Americans deserve. Sat. Event details.
July 4th with the National Archives
Join the National Archives for its first-ever virtual July 4th celebration! For 50 years, the Archives has celebrated the founding of the United States that includes a traditional reading ceremony of the Declaration of Independence on the Museum steps. This year, the National Archives will lift the words of the Declaration of Independence off of its well-worn parchment paper and bring them to homes across the country online, while providing a host of educational activities for the whole family. Sat. Event details.
California Center for the Arts Virtual 4th of July Festival
Since this year's fireworks celebration is cancelled, California Center for the Arts will be bringing you a virtual festival with events kicking off at 3 p.m. From crafts with the kiddos to Broadway stars singing your favorite songs to their annual tradition of Marine Band there will be something for everyone! Sat. Event details.
photo: Navy Pier’s fireworks courtesy of Scott L via flickr
Navy Pier’s 4th of July Fireworks
Bursting with red, white and blue, Navy Pier’s fireworks are typically the center of Chicago’s Independence Day celebration with the city’s only lakefront fireworks show all synchronized to a patriotic soundtrack.
Covid-19 update: As of Jun. 22, the fireworks will not take place. However, you can enjoy live music at the Pier from 2 p.m.-8 p.m. with the Live on the Lake series. Check Navy Pier’s website for future updates.
Take to the Lake this 4th
Make this Independence Day unforgettable with a 2-hour family ride on Lake Michigan with Odyssey and Spirit Cruises. Cruisers will be treated to incredible city views, a three-course buffet-style lunch, patriotic decor, games and a DJ proding you to show your moves on the dance floor.
Covid-19 update: As of Jun. 24, a family cruise was available Jul. 4, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. and adult-only cruises 7 p.m.-9 p.m. More details.
photo: Mercury Cruises
Experience the 4th in 3D
Plan a memorable family outing with Mercury Cruises aboard a Fourth of July 3D Fireworks Extravaganza Cruise and enjoy a spectacular fireworks show—with a twist! Each guest receives complimentary 3D glasses and a delicious treat box to enjoy the fireworks show!
Covid-19 update: As of Jun. 24, the 2020 cruising season had not yet been announced. Check their website for reopening updates.
Rock in the Park at Parkway Bank Park
While not exclusively a 4th of July event, Parkway Bank Park’s Rockin’ in the Park is a free summer concert series that includes a post-show musical fireworks display.
Covid-19 update: As of Jun. 22, the 2020 events at Parkway Bank Park were on pause. As restrictions continue to be lifted slowly, they will look to access the safety of hosting future activities. Check their website for updates.
photo: Chicago History Museum
Chicago History Museum’s 59th Annual Fourth of July Celebration The Chicago History Museum’s July 4th celebration gives kids a chance to hear the Declaration of Independence read aloud, see live patriotic musical performances and watch the World’s Tallest Uncle Sam lead a children’s costume parade.
Covid-19 update: As of Jun. 24, the Chicago History Museum has not announced a reopen date. Check their website for future updates.
Independence Day Salute
Prepare for a sensory feast as Christopher Bell and the Grant Park Orchestra observe the nation’s birthday with rousing marches and patriotic anthems including Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, the Armed Forces Salute and more. Have little ones who call it a night early? No problem—check out the open rehearsal in the afternoon.
Covid-19 update: As of Jun. 22, the 2020 season had been canceled with no plans to reinstate. Check their website for future updates.
photo: Arlington Park Racecourse
IN THE ‘BURBS
Northwest Fourth Fest
Put on by the Village of Hoffman Estates, the Hoffman Estates Park District and Hanover Township, this three-day festival lights up the grounds of the Sears Centre, Jul. 4-6. Kids and adults can have a blast on more than 40 carnival rides, listen to live music, fill up on fest food, cool off in the “cool zone” complete with water misters and watch one of the best fireworks displays in the area.
Covid-19 update: This event was canceled for 2020. Check their website next year for 2021 plans.
4th of July at Arlington Park Racecourse
If your kids are horse-crazy, then head to Arlington Park Racecourse for face painting, live music performances, crafts and roaming entertainment. The night will close with fireworks just after dusk.
Covid-19 update: The fourth of July activities were canceled for 2020. Check their website for future updates and family activities potentially later in the summer.
Fireworks Night at Arlington Park Racecourse
Experience live music and entertainment all day and into the night, with a fireworks display that kicks off just after dusk.
Covid-19 update: The fourth of July fireworks were canceled for 2020. Check their website for future updates and family activities potentially later in the summer.
There’s a reason why this annual, finger-licking extravaganza of BBQ is so popular: Grillers come from all over the country to dish their ‘cue and compete for the festival title. The Family Area is a fest unto itself with a petting zoo, magic shows, inflatables and more. Musical headliners this year include Billy Idol, Flo Rida, Brantley Gilbert, and Bad Company.
Covid-19 update: Ribfest was canceled for 2020. Check their website for updates next year.
photo: Stephanie McCabe via Unsplash
Evanston: Fourth of July Celebration
This blast began in 1922 and An all-volunteer committee organizes a day of July 4th fun, starting with outdoor games at several local playgrounds (think three-legged races, pie-eating contests, water balloon tosses and more). Afterward, join in on a kids half-mile fun run at Ackerman Park before the parade kicks off. Then, the party moves to Clark Street Beach for a lakefront concert followed by fireworks.
Covid-19 update: Instead of cancelling their annual 4th of July celebration, Evanston has decided to go virtual with a “Community United Cannot Be Divided” day of fun. Starting at 11 a.m. they have activities broadcasting live on their Facebook page, on Youtube, WCGO Radio 95.9FM, and on their website. They will feature parade highlights and award winners from previous years, special guests, contests & prizes, and a virtual parade and fireworks.
Oak Forest: Oak Fest
For over 30 years, Oak Forest residents have gathered over the 4th of July weekend to celebrate independence. The fun includes bingo, carnival rides and fireworks. Return on Saturday, July 6 (3 p.m.-6 p.m.) for community day events.
Covid-19 update: Oakfest was canceled for 2020. Check their website for updates next year.
Make Red, White & Blue Cupcakes with Taste Buds Kitchen
Show your USA pride and whip up perfectly patriotic Red, White and Blue Cupcakes completely from scratch! Plain old vanilla? Bore-ring! Bring on the pizzazz, the color, the fireworks! Jul. 3. More details.
photo: Glen Ellyn 4th courtesy of seanxcummings via flickr
Glen Ellyn: Fourth of July Celebration
Everyone loves a parade — especially one as cheerful and colorful as that in downtown Glen Ellyn. It’s followed by afternoon festivities at Lake Ellyn. Bounce in an inflatable moonwalk, tackle an obstacle course, play carnival games, dance to live music and get your face painted. When the tummies start growling, hit up their Food Truck Picnic in the Park for good eats. Stay at the lake for fireworks beginning at dusk.
Covid-19 update: Glen Ellyn has canceled their traditional celebration and has opted for a Patriotic Decorating Contest. Residents are invited to decorate their homes to be eligible for prizes for those that register. A map of decorated homes will be available for families to take a drive to view.
Hinsdale: Independence Day Celebration
A town parade starts at 10 a.m. followed by a family festival with food, crafts, inflatables, carnival games and face painting. What really sets this celebration apart from the rest are the turtle races! Go to compete or just watch the races.
Covid-19 Update: Hinsdale has canceled their 4th of July celebration. Check their website next year for 4th of July activities.
— Maria Chambers
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