Macy's is gearing up for its annual July 4th fireworks in New York City. On Tuesday, July 4, 2017, fireworks will light up the sky over the East River, and the show promises to be bigger than ever as it celebrates its 41st anniversary. Spectators should be able to catch the show from many neighborhoods in Midtown Manhattan as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens, but there are some important changes afoot this year.
The fireworks will take to the sky along the East River near Midtown. More than 60,000 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-2017 effects will include never-before-featured shells like color-changing chrysanthemums and happy faces in an eye-popping array of colors.
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. We've got the scoop on how to find the best places to watch, when to go, and what to bring.
And don't forget, there are frequent fireworks shows in NYC during the summer, from Coney Island to Central Park. Read our roundup of where else to see cool displays this summer.
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Macy's 41st Annual 4th 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 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 five barges between 24th and 41st Streets. Please note, there will not be a barge near the Brooklyn Bridge as in years' past and Brooklyn Bridge Park is no longer a recommended viewing spot.
Macy's official 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. Find Macy's recommendations, as well as our own, below.
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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.
If you have an elderly individual 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. In Queens, enter Center Boulevard from 48th to 49th Avenues.
Brooklyn and Queens viewers can peep the fireworks from anywhere with an unobstructed view of the East River.
Note, too, that access viewing areas in all boroughs will be closed as areas fill with spectators.
Our Recommendations for Unofficial Viewing Sites
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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.
Brooklyn Bridge Park has posted a warning that the fireworks will not be visible from its green space, but it's possible that the Brooklyn Heights Promenade will remain a decent view. Last year's entry points were Columbia Heights and Pineapple Street, Montague Street and Pierrepont Place, and Remsen Street and Montague Terrace. Still, you're probably better off on the other side of Brooklyn toward Williamsburg.
Roosevelt Island is not a viewing point according to organizers, but its Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is hosting a Family Fireworks Celebration from 5-10:30pm. While the event is FREE, advance registration is required and opens on Wednesday, June 28. Visit the website for more details and to pre-register.
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.
Because this information sometimes changes at the last minute, make sure you check Macy's website before heading out the door, or 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
Contrary to years' past, the South Street Seaport will not offer a view of this year's fireworks show. The southernmost barge will be stationed at 24th Street and too far north to see from Lower Manhattan.
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 Fourth of July Fireworks Festival near the Statue of Liberty.
Brooklyn Bridge Park has said the Macy's 2017 fireworks will not be visible.
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, but many are just for those ages 21-plus, so it's only an option if you're turning the holiday into a date night. You can also take the kids to some pre-bedtime fun on the holiday, from Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest to an afternoon Fourth of July-themed day of activities in Prospect Park. Check our NYC event calendar for more happening in NYC on July 4, and chime in on Facebook to tell us from where you'll be seeing the show!
Photo credit: Fireworks from FDR Drive. Photo by Yu-Hsin Chen via Flickr.