Celebrate Independence Day with the return of American favorites like fireworks, food festivals, parades, and baseball.
by Kara Adams
This year, the Triangle is brimming with options to celebrate Independence Day. You can start your July 4th weekend with a bang of patriotic parades and dazzling displays of fireworks and lasers — or go low-key with a picnic or outdoor happy hour. Here are 15 things to do for Fourth of July in Raleigh and nearby.
Head to Durham Summer Food & Wine Festival
Eat and drink your way through the Bull City for Durham Summer Wine & Food Festival, a celebration of the Triangle’s diverse cuisine offerings, great music, and craft beverage makers. One ticket gets you discounted meals at participating venues like The Honeysuckle at Lakewood, Durham Food Hall, and Bull City Burgers & Brewery, plus access to live entertainment.
July 4 | In-person; full weekend pass starting at $80, day pass starting at $50; various locations; details here
Host a July 4th-Themed Happy Hour
Make an array of red, white, and blue cocktails to go with your barbeque fairs. Try a Watermelon Basil Mezcal as a new way to incorporate watermelon into your Independence Day, or sip on a Harvest Moon Sangria as you watch the fireworks. For 10 refreshing summer cocktail recipes, head here.
Head to the Childrens’ Independence Day Parade in Durham
Decorate your bike, wagon, or stroller and join in on the fun at the annual Childrens’ Parade at Durham Central Park. Your child will feel like American royalty as they parade through the park and wave at the spectators. Cool off with free popsicles after the parade and stick around for fire truck tours and a jam session with DJ Pittipat
July 4 | 9:30a.m. – 11:30 a.m.; In-person; Free; 501 Foster Street, Durham; details here
Head to Festival for the Eno
The 42nd Annual EnoFest in Durham is back for 2021, complete with food booths, environmental exhibits, live music, and artisan vendors. The independence day celebration supports the Eno River Association in their conservation efforts for the Eno River basin. Volunteers are also needed and receive free admission to the festivities.
July 4 | In-person; tickets from $18; West Point on the Eno – Durham City Park, 5101 N Roxboro Road, Durham; details here
Visit A Small North Carolina Waterfront Town
If you’re looking for a way to beat the heat this fourth of July, head to one of Eastern North Carolina’s charming waterfront towns for a change of scenery and a dip in the ocean. Take a break from the usual 4th of July staples this year and try some seafood for a change as you explore all the coastline has to offer. Lucky for us in the Raleigh area, you can be at the beach in just a few hours and enjoy a complete change of scenery — ocean sunsets, fish fare, and an overall change of pace. We’ve rounded up five lesser-known towns on the water in Eastern North Carolina that are perfect for Independence Day weekend with history, classic summer and ocean fair, and the blue of the ocean.
See Fireworks at Koka Booth
Celebrate the birthday of the United States at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre with patriotic performances from the Cary Town Band and North Carolina Symphony, followed by a dazzling fireworks display over Symphony Lake. Concession stands and food trucks will be open for all the classic Fourth of July needs, from hot dogs and hamburgers, to sweet treats like cotton candy and a variety of alcoholic beverages.
July 4th | 5:30 p.m.; In-person; free general admission, tables available for purchase; 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary; details here
Pack a Patriotic a Picnic
Pack your favorite snacks and check out one of these scenic picnic destinations for a peaceful way to spend your 4th of July afternoon. Spread a blanket out at scenic Yates Mill, or people watch in the sunshine at Moore square for a chance of pace. If you’re not in the mood to prepare the basket yourself, support one of these local restaurants offering handheld options like sandwiches and snacks on-the-go.
Watch Air Force One at the Alamo Drafthouse
If you’re trying to beat the heat this year, spend the afternoon cooling off in the air conditioning at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for a special July 4th showing of Air Force One. Try a local brew, an adult milkshake, or a savory snack from their creative menu as you watch Harrison Ford save the day in this classic American thriller.
July 4 | 2 p.m.; in-person, $9, 2116-D New Bern Ave, Raleigh; details here
Watch the Fireworks over Carter-Finley Stadium
The City of Raleigh’s annual firework show over Carter-Finley Stadium is bigger than ever this year with an impressive $24,000 budget. Fill up on hotdogs and hamburgers beforehand, because this year’s show will take place from various parking lots surrounding the stadium, including the PNC Arena lots, North Carolina State Fairgrounds Bunn Field lots, and of course, the Carter-Finley Stadium lots.
July 4 | Gates open at 6, show from 9:30 – 10 p.m.; free parking; details here
Cheer on the Durham Bulls
Turn your night into a homerun with a trip to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for their 4th of July game against the Gwinnett Stripers. End the night with a stadium hotdog as you watch the post-game fireworks with Wool E. Bull. What better way to celebrate Independence Day than with America’s favorite pastime?
July 4th | 6:05 p.m.; tickets starting at $17; 409 Blackwell St, Durham; tickets here
Take the Kids to Goatstravaganza
At Spring Haven Farm, you can experience some old-fashioned activities such as potato sack races, a giant game of tug of war, tie-dye stations, face painting, kid’s sprinklers, giant bubbles, and a tractor train ride offering a full tour of the farm’s many animals. From baby goats decked out on patriotic gear to fluffy highland cows, this will surely be the cutest 4th of July yet. For refreshments, Spring Haven has booked multiple food trucks, Durty Bull Brewing Company, and will be selling watermelon and lemonade to keep the family hydrated for a day of fun on the farm.
July 4 | 10a.m. – 6p.m.; In-person; $14; 5306 Homer Ruffin Rd, Chapel Hill; details here
Take a Hike
Spend the day appreciating the beauty of nature and the American landscape as you trek through one of North Carolina’s scenic river walks, greenways, or trails like this one around the Haw River. Take a stroll down memory lane as you walk one of these historic trails, or try one of the trails around Jordan Lake State Recreation Area with refreshing water access that will make all the effort worth it.
See a Laser Light Show
Not a fan of loud fireworks? View this innovative laser light show display over Durham County Memorial Stadium from the comfort of your car, or bring lawn chairs to recline in the parking lot and enjoy the show. Listen to the accompanying music score or play your own patriotic favorites.
July 3 & 4 | 9 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.; 750 Stadium Drive, Durham; free, but registration required: details here
Attend the Flag Raising at Apex Olde Fashioned Fourth of July
Rise and shine for the annual flag raising in honor of the holiday, led by the Apex American Legion, followed by a decorated car procession through downtown Apex. Register to show your car off in the “Drive Through Red, White & Blue”, or decorate your child’s preferred mode of transportation, be it a stroller, wagon, or tricycle for the children’s Parade of Wheels. Finish your morning off with live music from Bach to Rock and a Splash Down at the Apex Fire Department.
July 3 | 10 a.m.; downtown Apex; details here
Stream a Fireworks Show
If you’re not quite ready for the crowds, check out Wake Forest’s Fireworks Spectacular, happening both in-person and via Facebook livestream via Facebook. The virtual stream will feature forwards from Talbot the Town Crier, Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty and more, as well as the best views of the fireworks, and the full closing performance by the Band of Oz. July 3 | in-person or virtual; 9:30 pm; 1150 Forestville Road, Wake Forest; details here