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CityPASS Home  »  City Traveler Blog  »  Macy's Annual Fireworks Light Up NYC

City Traveler Blog

Macy's Annual Fireworks Light Up NYC

New York City explodes each Independence Day with holiday festivities, including everything from daytime walking tours and historic reenactments to the nation’s largest nighttime fireworks display, which will launch this year from the picturesque Brooklyn Bridge and three barges on the East River.

The annual Macy’s fireworks extravaganza is as iconic and anticipated as the Thanksgiving Day Parade and, like the parade, is broadcast nationally and full of star-studded entertainment. This year’s spectacle will be especially festive in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the U.S. national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Photo credit: Douglas Palmer

The fireworks can be seen from any vantage point on land or water, offering an unobstructed view of the sky above the lower East River bridges. The city dedicates streets for public viewing, and by 5 p.m. onlookers will juggle for good spots along these streets at the elevated portions of the FDR drive in Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge Park Piers 1-6 and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

The river and harbor will fill up with cruise boats, including the Fireworks Cruises operated by Circle Line Cruises, a CityPASS attraction. The $135 cruise is sold out and not included in your New York CityPASS. Circle Line recommends checking out their sister company, World Yacht Dining Cruises which also offers July 4th fireworks cruises. Go to or call 212-563-3200 for fireworks cruise reservations and information about holiday schedule changes for other cruises offered with CityPASS. Harbor Lights cruises will not run on July 4.

Photo credit: Douglas Palmer

For the Macy’s 38th annual nighttime spectacle, expect to see 5,000 custom effects and 40,000 pyrotechnic shells and effects light up the sky during the 25-minute spectacle, which starts about 9:20 p.m. The show will be broadcast nationally on NBC at 8 p.m. ET (check local listings). Pre-show festivities include two Navy flyovers at 7:30 p.m., a patriotic NYPD helicopter flight at 7:45 p.m., and a fire department water show at 8 p.m.

“Macy’s 4th of July fireworks are a one-of-a kind spectacle that will once again inspire audiences nationwide as we illuminate the shores of Manhattan and Brooklyn with stunning effects, color and sound,” said Amy Kule, executive producer of the show.

A red serpent star fish, amber-colored glitter shells and puffy snowballs with red and blue centers are among the new effects featured this year. The accompanying musical score showcases new musical numbers and arrangements of classic patriotic favorites performed by Billy Porter, Enrique Iglesias, Ariana Grande, Lionel Richie and the Charlie Daniels Band, among others. On-site viewers can tune in to 1010 WINS-AM to hear the musical score as they watch the fireworks.

Photo credit: Anthony Quintano

Broadway superstar Idina Menzel will sing the National Anthem, which can be downloaded for free through July 5 at The website gives a rundown of events and includes tips for viewing, street closures, public viewing entry points in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and transportation information. For updates and event information, text SPARK to 62297 or call the Macy’s Fireworks Hotline at 212-494-4495.

During the day, historic lower Manhattan is where it’s happening with tons of activities including walking tours, special displays at museums, musical performances and free events. The whole family will enjoy the 50-gun salute at Castle Clinton in Battery Park or a reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of Federal Hall. Both events are free and start at noon. Learn more at

Or hop a subway in the morning to Coney Island in Brooklyn to watch the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hotdog Eating Contest. Details and schedule at ( The contest will be broadcast at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN 2. However you decide to spend the holiday, you’ll find plenty of choices for Independence Day fun in New York City.

Photo credit: Anthony Quintano


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