There are as many takes on what Independence Day means as there are people celebrating it. If we’re sticking to just the facts, we’re celebrating the Second Continental Congress adopting the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
We could emphasize separation, but what we really gained was a new union. Especially in the last year, our neighbors, friends, families, even volunteers and trusted public servants have gotten us through. This weekend, celebrate that spirit with these community celebrations, ranging from family-friendly fireworks displays to quirky Austin contests.
H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks
Let’s start with the obvious: H-E-B’s annual July 4 concert and fireworks with the Austin Symphony. The two institutions are coming together for their 44th season of patriotic music and celebration. It’s straightforward, crowded-in-a-good-way, and downtown. If you decide to leave afterward, for a friend’s barbecue or a nightcap, great. If you decide to stay, there are vendors selling food and drink, and other handmade souvenirs. The free event starts at 8 pm at Vic Mathias Shores (formerly Auditorium Shores). No tickets required, just show up!
Dreamland 4th of July Fireworks Show
This holiday is the perfect excuse to take a drive and enjoy a summer night outside. If you head to Dreamland, there’s enough going on there to keep you busy all day. Take a half-hour drive from the center of Austin for a day of pickleball, mini golf, lawn games, and a splash pad to keep cool. Stay for an hour of bingo at 5 pm, and enjoy the “reverse happy hour” from 6-11 pm. Dreamland has plenty of local food and drink from brands around Dripping Springs (including 50 beers and 40 wines from Central Texas). The main event is introduced with a concert of covers by high-energy brass band Time of Night starting around 7:30 pm and ending just before the fireworks start at 10 pm. Admission is free and nothing requires a reservation except the pickleball courts.
Sugar Land Skeeters @ Round Rock Express
America’s pastime thrives on the Fourth of July, from the local park to the MLB. Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express, is hosting a special game versus the Sugar Land Skeeters that includes an Independence Day celebration and a postgame fireworks show. The stadium is giving away miniature American flags to the first 7,000 fans, so you know it’ll be big. Come early for H-E-B’s Sunday Kids Day, so they can ride the train and run the bases, and make your way up from your seats to Home Run Dugout for some unique augmented reality baseball attached to the Bullpen Bar. The game starts at 6:05 pm. Tickets are for sale online at mpvtickets.com, and reservations for Home Run Dugout can be made over the phone or email (512-238-2226 or email@example.com).
Weekend events at the National Museum of the Pacific War
If history is an essential part of your Independence Day celebrations, consider a visit to the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg. The National Museum of the Pacific War is hosting free events all weekend. Friday brings music by the Dirty River Jazz Band and local wine tastings in the courtyard. On Saturday, the museum puts on a living history demonstration with a Q&A, photo opportunities, and, most importantly, a flamethrower. Watch the city parade on Sunday and see museum staff ride by in uniform on a World War II amphibious transport vehicle. All events are free. For more information on times and programming, visit pacificwarmuseum.org.
Weekend features at The Blue Starlite
The summer holiday doesn’t mean you have to squeeze through crowds, carry a cooler, or search in vain for parking. Get your gang in the car and head to The Blue Starlite drive-in, with two Austin locations and one in Round Rock. Independence Day, the alien encounter film starring Jeff Goldblum and featuring absolutely no attachment to the reality of the holiday, is the main attraction, with other showings of The Sandlot, Jurassic Park, Dirty Dancing and Twister. Some showings are just for cars, some just for hatchbacks, and some are walk-in: no car needed. Make sure you check which experience you sign up for, and note that schedules are different for different locations. Tickets are for sale at bluestarlitedrivein.com.
Hill Country Galleria Independence Day Festival
The annual festival by the Hill Country Galleria is back on, with live music, rides for the kids, over 75 artisan vendors, and the obligatory fireworks show. Best of all, there will be live music from five Austin-native bands: Fastball, Vallejo, The Deer, White Ghost Shivers, and School of Rock. The huge open-air mall is building the celebration around its lawn, but guests have plenty to do at the many retail shops and restaurants. If a day without shopping sounds amazing (we get it) there are 50 acres of green space to enjoy, and your pets are invited, too. Events start at 4 pm and end around 10 pm. Admission and parking are free.
Fireworks viewings from paddle board rentals
This one’s for those who want to see the fireworks from a new perspective. Rowers on a kayak, canoe, or paddle board can hear the music from the H-E-B-Austin Symphony concert from the stillness of the water and get a little upper body workout along the way. EpicSUP is coordinating rentals outside its regular hours on July 4. Since parking is very limited, consider walking over on the beautiful Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. Reserve your floating rental ($65-200) and read the schedule on Eventbrite. If a tour is more your speed, Austin Paddle Shack is bringing paddlers to see the bats fly, and then heading over to the holiday festivities at Vic Mathias Shores. Call 512-580-9401 to make a reservation.
Red, White, & BOOM! at Typhoon Texas
Dreading the heat this weekend? Don’t sweat it. The City of Pflugerville is partnering with the waterpark Typhoon Texas for its three days of festivities. Along with the standard waterpark fare — slides, a wave pool, a lazy river — there will be live entertainment, vendors, and carnival-themed activities. Saturday offers hot air balloon rides to season pass holders, and a fireworks show to all. Sunday’s pyrotechnics will be longer, and both shows will be synced with patriotic music on the radio. Purchase tickets and read the FAQ on typhoontexas.com.
Haymaker’s Pickled Egg Eating Contest
Maybe you just can’t envision the Fourth of July without tons of pickled eggs. You know, maybe. If that’s you, or if you love a challenge, sign up for Haymaker’s habañero-pickled eggs eating contest. They are made in-house and the whole thing only lasts five minutes. Plus, eggs are way more elegant and sustainable than shoving hot dogs down the hatch. The winner walks away with $250 and an understandably huge ego. Every entrant gets a commemorative T-shirt and a drink for their $20 fee, which goes to Helping Hand Home along with a portion of the night’s sales. There are also tons of sandwiches and poutine, which is prize enough. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up and see if you can beat 17 eggs. Good luck!
PCRA Rodeo and Independence Day events in Belton
We think there could be more Texas in most holiday plans. Luckily, the city of Belton is picking up the slack with the PRCA rodeo and wrapping up with a Saturday parade and creekside festival, followed by Sunday concerts and fireworks. The rodeo (by the biggest and oldest rodeo sanctioning body in the world) is scheduled for July 1-3, so this is the perfect excuse for a weekend rodeo that doesn’t run into anything you already agreed to on Sunday. Check the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce website for a full rundown of everything going on this weekend, and buy your rodeo tickets ($14-20) at beltoncountyexpo.com.