Macy's is gearing up for its annual July 4th fireworks. On Monday, July 4, 2016, fireworks will light up the sky over the East River, and the show promises to be bigger than ever as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. Spectators should be able to catch the show from many neighborhoods in downtown Manhattan as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
Fireworks will take to the sky along the East River near Midtown and the South Street Seaport. More than 56,000 are scheduled to burst forth at a rate of 2,200 per minute and all will be synchronized to a soundtrack of patriotic standards. New-in-2016 effects will include pyro-writing, where fireworks will spell out U-S-A.
If you're hoping to watch Macy's 4th of July Fireworks live, it's never too early to start planning your viewing strategy. Tickets for paid viewing options like Fourth of July Fireworks cruises are already on sale and going fast. Of course, you don't need to spend a penny to see the sparklers, but there are some important things to know before you go like when it starts! We've got the scoop on how to find the best places to watch the fireworks in person.
And don't forget, there are fireworks almost daily in NYC during the summer, from Coney Island to Central Park. Read our roundup on where else to see cool displays this summer.
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Macy's 40th annual Fourth of July Fireworks will take place on the East River. The show usually begins around 9:25pm and lasts approximately 25 minutes. In the event of rain, the start time could be delayed.
Of course you need to claim your viewing spot long before sundown. Be prepared to stand or sit on the ground: The New York Police Department won't allow you into viewing areas with backpacks, lawn chairs, or other large items, and they often search other types of bags.
If you're not up for fighting for a great spot, you can always watch Macy's fireworks live on NBC from your couch. Wherever you are, you can tune into 1010 WINS-AM radio to hear the synchronized patriotic fireworks soundtrack.
Best Viewing Locations
There will be a double barge at the Brooklyn Bridge and four other barges between 23rd and 37th Streets.
The Macy's website only lists official access points in Manhattan, but recommends finding spots in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens with unobstructed views of the sky above the East River. Here are Macy's recommendations, as well as our own.
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Fireworks seen from South Street Seaport. Photo by Jane Kratochvil/courtesy of the Seaport District.
Official Viewing Sites
Manhattan's FDR Drive between Houston Street and Midtown East, with entry points at Houston, 23rd, 34th and 42nd Streets. Access to the highway will open at approximately 7pm.
The elevated portion of the FDR Drive in lower Manhattan, with entry points at Broad Street's ground level, Old Slip's upper level, and Pearl and Frankfort Streets.
Parts of the South Street Seaport are also designated viewing areas: the FDR via Dover Street, plus limited views from Fulton Street and Peck Slip. Arrive early as the Seaport is planing a daylong celebration.
Fireworks from Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Anthony Quintano via Flickr.
Although not listed on Macy's site, Brooklyn Bridge Park will be open for fireworks viewing. Enter at Old Fulton and Furman Streets, Joralemon and Furman Streets, and Old Dock Street. The entrance at Atlantic Avenue and Pier 6 will be closed at 4pm. Take note: Most park attractions close at 4pm, including the Pier 2 Pop-Up Pool, Jane's Carousel, and the playgrounds, so if you had visions of playing until showtime, that's unlikely. The NYPD will also be checking all bags and chairs aren't allowed.
If you have an elderly or a person with a disability in your party, Macy's has set aside a few areas for spectators with special needs. In Manhattan, head to the FDR southbound lane at 16th Street and Avenue C or the top of the ramp at 34th Street, as well as Vietnam Memorial Park. In Brooklyn, enter Brooklyn Bridge Park at Furman and Old Fulton Streets near Pier 1. In Queens: Center Boulevard from 48th to 49th Avenues.
Our Recommendations for Unofficial Viewing Sites
The Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Last year's entry points were Columbia Heights and Pineapple Street, Montague Street and Pierrepont Place, and Remsen Street and Montague Terrace.
Roosevelt Island's Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park will be hosting a Family Fireworks Celebration from 5-10:30pm. While the event is free, advance registration is required and opens on Monday, June 27. Visit the website for more details and to pre-register.
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Fireworks seen from East River Park in lower Manhattan. Photo by Gary Burke via Flickr.
Although they've never been listed as official Macy's viewing locations, you should also be able to see the fireworks from the below as long as these parks stay open on the evening of July 4th.
Take note: it's possible some or all of these parks will decide to close. Remember, the police have the power to shutter any street or green space at any moment! So if you attempt to watch from an unofficial site, be prepared for possible disappointment. And wherever you go to see the fireworks, expect huge crowds, unless, of course, you have access to a private rooftop. And if so, can we come?
Because this information sometimes changes at the last minute, make sure you check Macy's website before heading out the door, or you can call the store's dedicated fireworks hotline at 212-494-4495. Many streets will also be closed to traffic, so whatever you do, don't drive!
Where Not to Go
The East Side of Manhattan above Midtown won't offer views unless you're up very high.
According to Macy's, Hunters Point South Park in Queens is not a viewing area, so we assume that means it will be closed to the public.
Battery Park won't offer views of Macy's fireworks, though you should be able to see Liberty State Park's Freedom and Fireworks Festival near the Statue of Liberty.
Paid Viewing Options
If you feel like splurging, consider hopping on a boat. We rounded up some of the most family-friendly Fourth of July Fireworks cruises sailing out of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and New Jersey. There are also a number of venues around the city that will host viewing parties, such as the Brooklyn Grange in Long Island City, but the latter is just for those ages 21-plus, so it's only an option if you're turning the holiday into a date night.
Photo credit: Fireworks from FDR Drive. Photo by Yu-Hsin Chen via Flickr.