Your Guide to the Fourth

Fourth of July weekend, Chicagoan’s hearts will once again swell with American pride as fireworks burst in the skyline over Lake Michigan and throughout the city’s neighborhoods. From festivals to parades, pyrotechnic displays, and sightseeing with one of the many tours, you’ll find plenty of patriotic things to do across Chicagoland for the Fourth of July. Gray Line Chicago has your guide to the Fourth.

Chicago Fireworks

Navy Pier
Since 2011, the Navy Pier fireworks has been one of the top things to do in Chicago for the Fourth of July. Grab a spot on a nearby beach or rooftop bar and enjoy the blasts and booms choreographed with patriotic music. It’s free and begins at dusk around 9:30 p.m.

For one of the largest displays outside the city, head to the village of Itasca for a 25-minute long show. Get there at 4 p.m. for picnic-style food, live music, and beer from the Itasca Brewing Company. The sky lights up at 9:45 p.m. It’s free and takes place at Hamilton Lakes Office Campus.

The rockets red glare gets an extra pop for the first 10,000 pyrotech maniacs who show up for Skokie’s firework’s show. They get special glasses to view the show in 3D. Get there by noon for the parade on Oakton Street and move along with the crowds to Niles West High School for live music from the Goo Roos and Mike & Joe. The fireworks show begin at dusk and is free.

Chicago Festivals for the Fourth of July

Northwest Fourth-Fest
This huge celebration at Hoffman Estates begins on July 4 and runs through July 7. It comes complete with a parade, concerts, carnival rides, pop-up water park, food vendors and a craft beer garden. The Fourth’s computerized fireworks display at 9:30 the highlight of the festival.

Lake Forest Festival and Fireworks
Liverpool Legends, the Beatles cover band, and country band Bella Cain rock the crowds on July 4 at this music and fireworks festival at Deerpath Community Park. The gates open at 5 p.m. and the bands start at 6 p.m. After “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” sparks light up the night sky beginning at 9:40 p.m. The cost is $20, and Lake Bluff and Lake Forest residents get a 5$ discount. There is no charge for kids age 5 and under.

Independence Day Salute
Celebrate America’s birthday with rousing patriotic anthems and military marches at the Grant Park Music Festival’s Independence Day Salute. Christopher Bell and the Grant Park Orchestra will perform Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and more. The special salute on July 4 is a part of the summer-long Grant Park Music Festival. Attend at Jay Pritzker Pavilion 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. Tickets are required.

Chicago Fourth of July Parades

Downers Grove
What’s more American than a patriotic parade? Downers Grove kicks off their Independence Day celebration with one beginning at Main and Grant Streets at 2:45 p.m. Hang around until dark for the fireworks display beginning at 9:30 p.m. The free event is presented by the City of Darien and the Village of Woodridge.

Highland Park
Highland Park’s celebration will be extra festive this year as the city celebrates its 150th anniversary. It all starts with a parade beginning at 10 a.m. on July 4 down St. Johns Avenue. The party continues with Fourth Fest 11:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. in Sunset Woods Park. Stay for the Bitter Jester Music Festival taking place in Wolters Field at 4 p.m. and a grand finale fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. All events are free.

Glenview’s Independence Day Parade begins at 11:20 a.m. on July 4 down Harlem Avenue and promises plenty of patriotic entrants. Head to Gallery Park at 5 p.m. for DJ tunes and then hang around for a free twilight concert by the North Shore Concert Band at 7 p.m. Fireworks follows at dusk.

Chicago Tours

There’s no better way to experience the Windy City than a guided tour. Gray Line Chicago offers a variety of ways to see the city sights.

A comprehensive tour of Chicago that combines our Scenic North Side Tour (link) and the Historic South Side Tour (link), allowing you to see everything the city has to offer from fascinating architecture to beautiful parks. Secluded stops include the Lincoln Park Conservatory and Museum Campus.

Land & River Architecture Tour
This tour covers all the sights of Chicago’s Historic Southside. You’ll pass the starting point of Historic Route 66 as the journey continues along Lake Michigan on South Lake Shore Drive past President Obama’s home, Jackson Park, the Museum of Science & Industry, and more. The tour also includes a 90-minute Architecture River Cruise.

And if you’ve got a big group, we can help with your transportation too! From trolleys, minibuses, and full motor coaches to private SUVs and sprinter vans. Visit our sister site,, to get a quote.

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