The Fourth of July is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776. But nowadays it’s a day of fireworks, grilled food being eaten in bulk, rooftops, and warm weather.

For a bit of background, you can read my guide to all US holidays here! So what is the best way to celebrate in this big city? Here is everything you need to know.

Fireworks

First things first, we’ll start with the end. The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks are what the whole day builds to, and you shouldn’t miss them if you’re in town. They launch from the East River and start at 8pm and keep going until 10pm.

If you can find yourself a rooftop that can see the East River (at all), then you’re in prime position, because all of the public viewing areas get VERY busy. If you do want to watch from one of them, I would recommend getting there as absolutely early as you can because it’s no fun having to sit on top of other people.

Parades

Did you know that since 1911, the small town of Travis has thrown an Independence Day parade, and it is one of the oldest celebrations of July 4th in the United States?

It’s true!

Rain or shine, it’s the 109th parade!

The ceremony starts at noon in front of P.S. 26 (4108 Victory Blvd) between Wild and Melvin Avenues, and the parade starts at 12:30, right after.

Eating Contests

Another tradition of the 4th of July is Nathan’s Famous Hotdog Eating Contest.

For those of you who aren’t familiar:

Last Fourth of July, Joey Chestbut won the annual Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest for the 11th time by downing a Coney Island record 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

It’s insane to say the least, but if it’s what you’re into, well it’s just a spectacular sight! He gains about 24 pounds (11kg) in 10 minutes. Like. What!?

Something completely different

If you’re looking to do something completely different (especially if you’ve got a family and kids), why not check out Staten Island’s Historic Richmond Town?

Have yourself an old-fashioned summer holiday at Staten Island’s Historic Richmond Town, a village and museum complex. Try your hand at churning ice cream (it’s harder than it looks!), taste red, white and blue pies baked in a brick oven, chat with artisans such as a blacksmith and tinsmith and make a Victorian paper pinwheel for the patriotic parade.