Fourth of July Chicago/Suburbs 2012: Fireworks, Cruises, Fests, Parades and More.

Fourth of July Chicago/Suburbs 2012: Fireworks, Cruises, Fests, Parades and More.

Chicago, Tuesday, June 26, 2012. With the 4th of July falling on a Wednesday, this year, the question is when to celebrate? For some, the answer is to celebrate all week.  Some of the popular annual fests including Naperville’s Ribfest kick off this weekend and continue through Tuesday, July 3.  Others start on the 4th of July and go through the following weekend (July 9) like Arlington Heights’ Frontier Days. Barrington’s 4th of July Festival starts Friday and goes through July 4 while the popular Lisle’s Eyes to the Skies Balloon Festival starts Wednesday, June 27 and runs through this weekend (July 1).

This week Show Me Chicago is posting two events calendars for the holiday period which runs Wednesday, July 27 through Sunday, July 8, 2012. Today’s calendar features fireworks and activities related to 4th of July celebrations. Thurrsday’s calender will look at events for the upcoming weekend of June 28 through July 1, 2012.


The City of Chicago’s fireworks will take place Wednesday, July 4 at Navy Pier. The FREE display will feature a spectacular show of pyrotechnics along the downtown lakefront at the Pier. Beginning at 9p.m., the show will last approximately 15-minutes, and include a mix of patriotic music in the background. 600 E. Grand. PLEASE NOTE: The Chicago Police and Fire Departments will likely cut off public admittance to Navy Pier at some point once they reach capacity.  It is expected that this may be as early as 6p.m. Also expect rolling street closures when the lakefront and beaches reach capacity. Grand Avenue and Illinois Streets from Navy Pier to Columbus will be closed at some point to vehicular traffic.  In other words, expect traffic headaches. CTA will expand service by adding extra buses to transport people–so that or walking may be the way to go.

The Chicago White Sox will have a Fireworks display at the Cell following the Wednesday, July 4, game against the Texas Rangers. The game starts at 6:10p.m.

Arlington Park Racecourse offers a day at the track followed by what may be one of the best fireworks displays in the Chicago area on Wednesday, July 4.  The races step off at 3p.m.  The day includes family activities and the rock band, “How Far to Austin” playing live on the band stage in the Park throughout the day. The celebration cumulates with a 30-plus minute Fireworks display at dusk that is synchronized to a mixture of patriotic and popular music. Gates open at 1p.m.

Many other Fireworks displays will take place on the 3rd and 4th of July. Check out CBS Local for a list of more celebrations.


Looking for a new angle from which to view the Navy Pier Fireworks. Here are some ideas. A hot ticket is a seat on Navy Pier’s giant Ferris Wheel.  Fireworks can also be viewed from the beer garden on the far end of Navy Pier or grab a seat at the many waterside restaurants on the south side of the pier–get there early (before 5:30p.m.) if you expect to get a seat or even get on the Pier as once it reaches capacity it will be closed to the public. The Fireworks can also be viewed from Lake Shore Drive and Millennium or Grant Park.  Another option is to take a cruise on Lake Michigan from one of the many ships docked at Navy Pier. Although, not inexpensive, a cruise offers food, beverages, entertainment and a wonderful vantage point to view the fireworks.

Mystic Blue Cruises is offering a special fireworks cruise on July 4.  The cruise includes a dinner buffet, an open bar, views of the fireworks and interactive DJs dancing. Board 7:00p.m. Dock 10:30p.m.  877 299 7783.

Odyssey’s July 4th Fireworks cruise features a two-course plated dinner plus an elegant dessert station, live entertainment, dancing, an open bar and a close-up view of the Navy Pier fireworks display. Board 6:30p.m. Dock 10:30p.m.  866 305 2469.

Another cruise ship, the Spirit of Chicago offers a dinner buffet an open bar, DJ and a view of the Navy Pier Fireworks.  Board 7:00p.m. Dock 10:30p.m.  866 273 2469.

Seadog – Lakefront Fireworks Cruise.
Every seat on the Seadog fireworks cruise has spectacular open panoramic views of the world famous Chicago skyline, which are paired with a narrated tour and extended speedboat cruise on this 60-minute ride. Wednesday, July 4 at 9:00 p.m.

Wendella Boats – July 4th Fireworks Cruise.
Experience the awe-inspiring fireworks display while enjoying traditional American music on a two-hour boat tour that takes riders on a trip through the Chicago Locks to see the city from the lake, along with a mini river tour. Wednesday, July 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Navy Pier Fireworks Kayak Paddles.
One-of-a-kind views will surround you as you kayak through the city on guided twilight tours. See the brilliant colors of the fireworks display as they shimmer off the water’s reflection. Choose from a 45-minute paddle with Urban Kayak, a 90-minute paddle from Wateriders or a three-hour paddle offered by Kayak Chicago.

Shoreline Sightseeing – Architecture Fireworks Cruise.
This dramatic, nighttime cruise takes riders down all three branches of the historic Chicago River for a glittering view of the city’s iconic skyscrapers. The evening ends with a front-row seat for Navy Pier’s spectacular fireworks display from the mouth of the Chicago River. Wednesday, July 4 at 8:30 p.m.


Grant Park Music Festival – Millennium Park (FREE). Wednesday, July 4, 6:30 p.m.
The Grant Park Music Festival’s Free Independence Day Celebration features the Grant Park Orchestra with Christopher Bell, Conductor; and Paul Corona, Baritone.
Here’s the musical line-up:
Bernstein, Candide: Overture
Gould, Amber Waves
Williams, Olympic Fanfare and Theme
Copland, Old American Songs
Grofé, Mississippi Suite
Gershwin, Girl Crazy:  Overture
Wendell, Sea to Shining Sea
Tchaikovsky, 1812 Overture
Sousa, The Stars and Stripes Forever.

The Ravinia Festival, Wednesday, July 4, 5p.m.

Pack a picnic or buy your meal at Ravinia Festival where you can celebrate a patriotic Independence Day with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing American Favorites and still have time to see the fireworks at many surrounding North Shore locations following the performance. Ravinia Festival Grounds, Green Bay Rd. just north of Lake-Cook in Highland Park. Show, 5p.m. Tickets start at $22.


Although the City of Chicago does not have an official 4th of July parade, many neighborhoods and communities have annual celebrations. Below is a sampling of some of the area’s most popular parades. Check community websites for other parades.


As many as 140 entrants are expected to wind their way from Central Park Avenue East to Ashland Avenue, beginning at 2p.m. Wednesday at Evanston’s annual 4th of July parade.


Glenview’s Parade starts at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church to Johns Park.  In the evening the community has a concert and fireworks 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Glenview Park Golf Club, 800 Shermer Road.


The Parade steps off at 10 a.m. Wednesday beginning at Benton and River streets. Entertainment and fireworks 6-10 p.m. at Illinois Math & Science Academy, 1500 W. Sullivan Road.

Downers Grove.

The Downers Grove Parade steps off Wednesday from Main St. and Warren St. at 12:45p.m.


Chicago History Museum – Happy Fourth of July Annual Event (FREE).
Celebrate the nation’s independence with time-honored traditions and festivities for the entire family. Join the fun at the Museum’s 53rd annual celebration with patriotic musical performances, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and a children’s costume parade led by the World’s Tallest Uncle Sam. Admission is free to this outdoor event on Uihlein Plaza. 1601 N. Clark.  Wednesday, July 4 from 10a.m. to noon.

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  • Great post! Saves me the trouble of looking it up!

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