A picnic blanket spread out over freshly cut grass. Sounds of cheering from a passing parade. The boom, crackle and flash of fireworks in the night sky. Is there anything better than a day spent with family and friends on the Fourth of July? Many cities have their own Independence Day traditions, but when it comes to celebrating our American freedom, towns and cities across Tennessee go all out. Here are a few ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in the form of small-town parades and big city festivals in Tennessee.
If you’re a fan of parades, you won’t want to miss Gatlinburg’s First Independence Day Parade in the Nation. It kicks off at 12:01 a.m. on July 4, but arrive early to save your seat because this small-town tradition captures big-time attention. Named one of the “Top Ten Parades to See in the U.S.” by National Geographic Traveler magazine, this mile-long midnight parade attracts approximately 80,000 spectators every year. Enjoy the show and then catch some sleep because festivities kick back up around noon with the annual River Raft Regatta and fireworks at 10 p.m.
Journey into the past when you visit Tennessee’s oldest town during Jonesborough Days. This three-day Fourth of July celebration, known for its community patriotism and nostalgic atmosphere, is packed with activities and entertainment for all ages including crafts, children’s games, delicious food, live music and a parade. Get an in-depth look at life during the Civil War at the Civil War Encampment, and don’t miss the Celtic and Native American villages. Finally, settle into your lawn chair for the evening’s finale — Jonesborough’s 30-minute fireworks display.
Knoxville celebrates Independence Day with The Festival on the 4th , a popular tradition that attracts thousands of people to World’s Fair Park every year. It all takes place 4-10 p.m. July 4. Head over to the Festival Lawn for Lego building with Bricks for Kids and miniature golf with Holes to Go. Stop by the Home Federal Bank Family Fun Stage to check out the live entertainment. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra performs a free concert starting at 8 p.m. and fireworks go off around 9:30 p.m. Please note this is an alcohol-free event, and no personal tents or pets are allowed.
If you’re looking to kick off your patriotic party before July 4, you can find Clarksville’s 12th Annual Independence Day Celebration 5-10 p.m. July 3 in Liberty Park. It’s a great time for the whole family. Activities include a bike parade, cornhole, sack races, the “Most Patriotic Person” contest and performances by local musicians. Beer and food from local vendors will also be available for purchase. After your day of fun and games, enjoy the largest fireworks display in the city starting at 9:30 p.m.
One of the nation’s largest July Fourth events happens right here in Tennessee. Every year Let Freedom Sing! Music City attracts thousands to downtown Nashville with food trucks, a family fun zone and all-day live performances by an amazing lineup of popular musicians. The fireworks at this event are amazing; more than 60,000 shells, mines and comets will launch into the night sky, making it one of the largest firework displays in the country. To top it all off, the Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony will perform live to a synchronized fireworks spectacular.
Hendersonville’s Freedom Festival celebrates Independence Day on July 3 in Drakes Creek Park. Bring your family and friends to enjoy tasty food from local vendors, a kids zone with fun and games, and live entertainment including music and a talent show. The activities start at 5 p.m. and fireworks launch at 9 p.m. The festival is also Hendersonville’s largest fundraiser for education — all proceeds go toward providing grants for nearby schools. Have fun and support a great cause in this beautiful Tennessee town.
The family-friendly Freedom Festival kicks off with a children’s parade through downtown McKenzie at 10 a.m. Local Boy Scouts lead a ceremonial posting of the colors to start off the night’s festivities at 6:30 p.m.. You’ll find music and other entertainment, “Most Patriotic” contests, and an array of food options, from hamburgers and hot dogs to ice cream and fried Oreos.
For one of the best fireworks shows in Memphis, make your way to the riverfront or a nearby rooftop. Mud Island River Park offers games, food and music starting at 6 p.m. You can even rent a canoe or kayak and spend some time on the water. Tom Lee Park, which offers half-court basketball, lawn games and sports equipment rentals, is also a good spot for watching the fireworks. Please note picnics are welcome in all parks, but no alcohol is permitted. If you’re looking for a place to have a drink and toast to the USA, head to the The Peabody Hotel for great food and drinks, and a fantastic view of the fireworks from the rooftop.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll love how Discovery Park of America celebrates Independence Day. Come enjoy a reading of the Declaration of Independence, a Liberty Bell ceremony and patriotic music for $10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the park is free after 5 p.m. and there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Take a jump in the bounce house, treat yourself to ice cream, or kick back and listen to the live tunes. Fireworks begin at dusk, and the party continues until 10 p.m.
A picnic in the park, a midnight parade or a phenomenal music festival — however you choose to observe July Fourth, you can’t go wrong when you spend the day in Tennessee. Please celebrate responsibly.