Forgive us, but we’re pretty excited about this Fourth of July weekend. First: The fireworks are back over the East River for a second consecutive year after a five-year hiatus, which is hopefully a sign of permanency. Second: It’s a long weekend, and those are never a bad thing. Third: The weather is actually supposed to be nice and summer-y, for maybe the first time so far this summer! And finally: Did we mention it’s a long weekend? Because it is.
And so while watching the fireworks is a time-honored tradition we hold dear, they’re but a small portion to what the weekend has to offer. With everything from festivals to live music happening around town over the next few days, there’s no shortage of fun to be had. Plus, all that celebration is a great kickoff for the massive hangover that will undoubtedly follow your Independence Day celebrations. While Hangover Independence Day might not be an official holiday, that splitting headache that appears like clockwork the next day really says otherwise. But with a little planning, and lots of the activities we outline below, you’ll barely notice how bad your head hurts. Promise!
The 44th Annual International African Arts Festival
This four-day community festival is a fusion of arts and culture right here in Brooklyn. Since 1971, the festival has honored African heritage by transforming a city park into a cultural haven that celebrates both tradition and contemporary expression. You can expect to see hip-hop veteran Talib Kweli take the stage, amongst other musical performances throughout the festival.
7/2-5 in Commodore Barry Park on Flushing Avenue
Governors Club Funk-N-Cue
What do a view of Lower Manhattan, a pulled pork sandwich, and George Clinton have in common? You can find them all on Governors Island this Fourth of July weekend. George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic will be performing at the outdoor bar, along with the Fonky Kong band. So dance your heart out will chowing down on some BBQ, in what is bond to be the funkiest kickoff to the holiday weekend.
7/3 at Governors Club on Ferry Line Road
Fourth of July Roller Skating Party in Prospect Park
Freedom rings to the tunes of DJ Dhundee and the sound of your skates gliding across the roller rink. With an evening of complimentary skating, there’s no better way to commemorate 239 years of freedom than with this free event.
7/3 LeFrak Center at Prospect Park
Nathan’s 2015 Hot Dog Eating Contest
A time-honored Coney Island tradition, Nathan’s hot dog eating contest promises competitive gluttony at its unkosher finest.
7/4 Nathan’s Famous, Coney Island
Brooklyn Cyclones vs. Williamsport Crosscutters
Coney Island is the place to be this weekend. There, we said it! If you take a closer look at this list, you’ll see that all signs point to Coney. From beach parties to fireworks, the place is teeming with stuff to do—including a baseball game! So after watching that hot dog eating contest, snag a frank of your own, sit back, and watch America’s favorite pastime.
7/4 MCU Park on Coney Island at 1904 Surf Avenue
No Yard? No Deck? Have a BBQ in a Brooklyn Park
We’re pretty sure that our Founding Fathers were fighting for our inalienable rights to cram copious amounts of carbs, meat, and beer down our throats. If not, well, we’re doing it anyway. A cookout is just as synonymous to the Fourth of July as fireworks. So head over to one of the many Brooklyn parks that allow outdoor cooking and throw some steaks, or vegan-friendly burgers on the grill. Just make sure to stake out a spot early—like, pre-dawn hours early—or you’ll be out of luck. Bonus: If you grill in Prospect Park, make sure to check out some of the many monuments scattered throughout which honor the famed Revolutionary War’s Battle of Brooklyn. Spoiler: We lost the battle, but won the war.
Pop-Up Pool at Brooklyn Bridge Park
OK, while this isn’t a Fourth of July exclusive, it’s a Fourth of July must. We’re banking on some sunshiny weather this weekend, and what better way to take in the rays than laying poolside with a tall glass of lemonade. We recommend going on the 5th, when hopefully everyone’s had their fill of the area and will want to try someplace else. That might be wishful thinking, but if eternal, blind optimism isn’t an American tradition, than what is?
Until Labor Day Weekend at Pier 2 at Brooklyn Bridge Park
Films at Nitehawk Cinema
Whatever you do, don’t get in the water. Watch a movie instead. Nitehawk Cinema combines the screening of classics like JAWS, Without a Stitch, and Smokey and the Bandit with some of our favorite Independence Day-themed foods in an evening of fun that protects you from the madness of Fourth of July crowds. We apologize now for the JAWS theme song you will undoubtedly have stuck in your head for the next week. And even though Nitehawk isn’t showing Independence Day (too on the nose, we guess), never forget that this weekend is also a time to celebrate the greatest American who ever lived: Jeff Goldblum.
7/4 at Nitehawk Cinema on 136 Metropolitan Avenue
Fifth Annual Independence Day Beach Celebration
America has come a long—and arduous, to put it frankly—way since a bunch of pasty white dudes decided to declare independence from Great Britain. So rather than just celebrate all those pasty white dudes, we should actually celebrate diversity and culture. And what better way than with a beach party hosted by Salsa Salsa Dance Studio? Its Salsa Salsa’s fifth annual beach party, and it’s all about paying homage to the stars and stripes, and of course, drinking and dancing. America, fuck yeah.
7/4 on the Coney Island Boardwalk, in front of the Parachute Drop