Fireworks explode over Sarasota Bay during the Fourth of July.
Fireworks, parades and parties are all part of the fun taking place on the Fourth of July. At many of these events, bands will rock the crowds ahead of the patriotic pyrotechnics with vendors selling such American classics as cheeseburgers and cold beers. You’ll find plenty of activities for children, too.
From beaches to ballparks, here are the best spots to celebrate Independence Day, including fireworks celebrations on Saturday and Sunday, in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties.
Sarasota Powerboat Grand Pix Festival (here's our complete guide) again closes with a bang, actually a bunch of bangs. The Grand Prix organizers at Suncoast Charities for Children, in partnership with Marina Jack, helped raise the money to produce the Bayfront Fireworks that illuminate the sky off the waters of downtown Sarasota. For an extra-special experience, make a reservation at Marina Jack.
9 p.m. Monday; Marina Jack; 2 Marina Plaza; Sarasota; 941-365-4232; marinajacks.com
All-American Barbecue at Selby
Watch the fireworks in style at Selby Gardens with live music by blues singer Lauren Mitchell and a menu of such American classics as burgers (including a portobello burger), barbecue pork sandwiches, chicken fingers with fries and kosher hot dogs. Beer, wine and cocktails are also available. Regular ticket prices do not include food or open bar but the $150 VIP ticket includes valet parking, open bar and catering by Michael’s on East in Selby’s indoor VIP area.
6 p.m. Monday; Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota; $25 (members), $35 (non-members), $150 (VIP), free for children age 3 and younger; 941-366-5731; selby.org
Siesta Key Fireworks Celebration
For the 26th year the Siesta Key Chamber has produced its own fireworks show with our most famous beach again a great spot to watch red, white and blue explosions.
9 p.m. Monday; Siesta Beach, 948 Beach Road, Sarasota; 941-349-3800; siestakeychamber.com
Office Bar SRQ Rooftop Party
View practically every fireworks show in the area from the top floor of the Office Bar SRQ’s parking deck, which puts you about 600 feet above Sarasota Bay. Office Bar is taking up the whole top floor so there will plenty of space in the shade, or under shelter if it rains a little. The Beer Box will be pouring Florida craft brews along with a small wet bar and burgers and hot dogs from Evie’s Catering & Events. Bringing a lawn chair is suggested. No outside food or beverage permitted.
6-10 p.m. Monday; Office Bar SRQ, 1989 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota; no cover charge; 941-955-3843; eviesonline.com/officebarsrq
Freedom Festival Parade
For the 14th year the Freedom Festival Parade will bring family fun to Longboat Key on Independence Day morning with floats and other festivities starting at Town Hall and proceeding down Bay Isles Road.
9-11 a.m. Monday; Longboat Key Town Hall, Town of Longboat Key, 941-316-1999; longboatkey.org
Venice’s Fourth of July Fireworks
Fireworks will be shot from the South Jetty, which will be closed, and can be viewed on area beaches from Caspersen to Nokomis.
9 p.m. Monday; Venice South Jetty; 941-486-2626; venicegov.com
North Port Freedom Festival
Watch a fireworks spectacular choreographed to music at the North Port Freedom Festival, one of the city’s signature events since 2004. There will be live music, an array of food/vendor booths, family activity area, obstacle course, giant slides and a gladiator joust.
6 p.m. Monday; North Port High School, 6400 W. Price Blvd., North Port; free; 941-429-7275; cityofnorthport.com
Celebrate the nation’s birthday at the Anna Maria Island Privateers Parade. HT ARCHIVE
Celebrate Independence Day on July 2 when the Charlotte Stone Crabs play at the Bradenton Marauders’ McKechnie Field, where there will be post-game fireworks presented by Bright House Networks and Budweiser. There will also be a patriotic-themed jersey auction and free shirt giveaway for the first 1,500 fans to enter the ballpark. Live pre-game music by Gator Creek Band with gates opening at 4:30 p.m.
4:30 p.m. (gates) 6:30 p.m. (game) Saturday; McKechnie Field, 1611 9th St. W., Bradenton; $6-$10; 941-747-3031; bradentonmarauders.com
Anna Maria Island Privateers’ Fourth of July Parade
If you planned on attending the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Parade, which has been canceled, consider a trip to Anna Maria Island. The Anna Marie Island Privateers will once again host their annual Fourth of July parade to celebrate the birth of our nation and the non-profit’s mission statement of “pirates for kids and community.” The parade goes the entire seven-mile length of Anna Mari Island and is open to everyone: businesses, groups, families or individuals who would like to show their patriotism. There's no parade entrance fee although donations are always accepted. Please note that this is a non-walking parade so every entry must be on wheels. Attendees are invited to bring a chair and an American flag and set on the parade route, which is expected to draw 20,000 watchers with over 850 participants. The parade goes from Coquina Beach starting at 10 a.m. and will continue along Gulf Drive to Anna Maria City Pier. The after party will be at The Ugly Grouper, 5704 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
10 a.m. Monday; Coquina Beach, 2650 Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach; 941-209-2212; amiprivateers.org
Sandbar Fireworks Extravaganza
This Monday’s fireworks celebration at Sandbar marks the 30th year the restaurant has hosted its Sandbar Fireworks Extravaganza. While it’s of course free to view the display from any of the surrounding beaches for spectacular dining and VIP options call the restaurant. The Beach House, part of the Chiles Restaurant Group, will again suspends its fireworks this year “with the best interest of our community’s environmental protection in mind, we have decided once again to cancel our July 3 fireworks display to protect the rare and endangered shore birds on the beach nearby,” reads the statement issued by Chiles.
8 p.m. Monday; Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria; 941-778-8709; sandbar.groupersandwich.com
Palmetto Fourth Festival
Palmetto knows how to party on the Fourth of July, once again bringing a free concert to its city and blasting off fireworks to be enjoyed on both sides of the Manatee River. That’s right, Bradenton, thank Palmetto for the patriotic pyrotechnics. Smash Mouth, the laid-back California band who gave us the catchy 1990s hits “Walkin’ on the Sun,” “All Star,” and covered The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” for the soundtrack “Shrek” plays Sutton Park at 7 p.m. The park opens at 4 p.m. with an opening performance and mayor’s Pledge of Allegiance. Fireworks are at 9:30 p.m.
4 p.m. Monday; Sutton Park, 6th St. W., Palmetto; free; 941-723-4988; palmettofl.org
Hundreds of people participated last year in the Freedom Swim. HT ARCHIVE
Charlotte Stone Crabs
Following the final out of the Bradenton Marauders at Charlotte Stone Crabs there will be a post-game fireworks show illuminating the skies above Charlotte Sports Park presented by Florida Cancer Specialists. Stone Crabs players will wear patriotic jerseys for Independence Day and the jerseys will be be auctioned off during the game.
5 p.m. (gate) 6 p.m. (first pitch) Sunday; Charlotte Sports Park; 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte; $10-$12 941-206-4487; stonecrabsbaseball.com
Fishermen’s Village July 4th Celebration
Fishermen’s Village will host its annual Fourth of July Celebration starting with the popular Freedom Swim beginning at 2 p.m. on the north side of the southbound U.S. 41 bridge and ending at Harpoon Harry’s. (Call 941-661-5622 for more Freedom Swim details.) The Green Hibiscus Trolley will provide transportation between Fishermen’s Village and the swim starting point. Other festivities at Fishermen’s Village include a lineup of music acts performing at noon and continuing through 9 p.m. Harpoon Harry’s will be offering children’s crafts, treats and face painting, bathing suit and Hula Hoop contests. Viewing of annual fireworks display over Charlotte Harbor begins at 9 p.m.
12-10 p.m. Monday; Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda; free admission and free parking; 941-639-8721; fishermensvillage.wordpress.com
Englewood Firecracker Festival
Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary is throwing its annual block party and fireworks show starting at 10 a.m. on Dearborn Street with burgers, hot dogs and such from local restaurants and vendors plus beer, frozen daiquiris and margaritas. Over 60 craft vendors will be lining the streets plus a kids’ zone with water slides and bounce houses. Three bands will also be performing and locals will know about the “chicken sheet bingo.”
10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday; Pioneer Park, 300 W. Dearborn Street, Englewood; free; lemonbaysunriserotary.info