Here’s where to celebrate Independence Day in Chicago

From Navy Pier fireworks to an orchestra concert at Millennium Park, there are plenty of options over the holiday weekend.

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Sun-Times Media

From Navy Pier to the Museum Campus and in Millennium Park, Chicagoans — whether sprawled on blankets or perched in lawn chairs — have options to celebrate Independence Day.

Besides the big Navy Pier fireworks Thursday night — visible from plenty of spots along the lakefront, there are activities around town all weekend.


• 10:30 a.m to 1 p.m. at Millennium Park: The Grant Park orchestra will conduct an open rehearsal at Pritzker Pavilion for their “Independence Day Salute” concert the next day.

• 5 to 10 p.m. at Shedd Aquarium: The weekly jazz concert is also a prime spot for viewing Navy Pier’s weekly Wednesday night fireworks.

Cost is $19.95 for Chicago residents, $24.95 for non-residents. Museum members receive free admission to multiple sets — on the terrace and in the main foyer. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

• 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Navy Pier: The Navy Band Great Lakes Wind Ensemble.

• 9:30 p.m. at Navy Pier: Fireworks.


• 10 a.m. to noon at Chicago History Museum: The 60th anniversary of their annual Independence Day celebration will honor their former president and Chief Historian Russell Lewis, who died earlier this year. In addition to a presentation by color guard and a children’s parade, members and activists will read the entire Declaration of Independence. The event is free.

• 6:30 to 10 p.m. at Shedd Aquarium: “Fourth with the Fishes” includes events throughout the museum. Aquarist James Clark will discuss how fish use colors, including red, white and blue, for survival. Activities will include engagement with live animals.

Tickets cost $24.95 for Chicago residents, $29.95 for non-Chicago residents, and members pay $14.95. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

• 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Millennium Park: The Grant Park orchestra will perform their “Independence Day Salute” at the Pritzker Pavilion. Tickets range from $26 to $101.

The orchestra will play 15 patriotic songs and a color guard will present. Each of the armed services songs will be played.

• 9:30 p.m. at Navy Pier: Fireworks in synchronization with recorded patriotic music. Ride-hailing services will be disabled upon pier closure as no pedestrian or vehicular traffic will be permitted on the North Dock.

Navy Pier recommends using public transportation or parking at one of the pier’s three partner garages at a discounted rate of $15.

These garages are at 540 N. State St., 300 E. North Water St. and 5 S. Columbus Drive. Validation can be obtained from Navy Pier’s Guest Services Kiosk at the front entrance.

On-site parking garages are available for a rate of $45 on July 3 and 4.

It is not clear what full capacity is, but that cap tends to be reached every Independence Day — the pier’s busiest day of the year, according to spokesperson Payal Patel.

Guests will be turned away when the fire marshal determines full capacity with Navy Pier personnel. The pier will likely close its gates no later than 7:30 p.m.

In the event of closure, guests with approved advance tickets or official reservations may be allowed entry, including those with movie and theater tickets, as well as cruises.

• Navy Pier: “OffShore Rooftop & Bar” opened last month in anticipation of the holiday. Attached to the hotel that is being constructed on the third floor of the pier, Guinness World Records has labeled it the “world’s largest rooftop deck.” Tickets can be purchased online or at 312-535-6660.

Water cruises are available to take clients onto Lake Michigan to view the fireworks. Tickets for the various companies can be found through


• 10:15 p.m. at Navy Pier: As part of the biweekly and summer-long fireworks on Wednesdays and Saturdays, a 10-minute show will take place Saturday.

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