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Feeling patriotic but want to do more than just watch fireworks? This is the town for it. We’ve got lots of suggestions for ways to start your celebration earlier and make the fun last longer, from enjoying some live music to watching people stuff their faces with barbecue to… well, you’ll see. (All events are on July 4 unless noted.)   

Freedom Over Texas, featuring Hunter Hayes

4-10 p.m. | Eleanor Tinsley Park 

Houston’s largest Fourth of July celebration is right in your backyard! This year will be the event’s 30th annual iteration with a lineup nothing short of outstanding, including MTV-award winning band DNCE and Grammy-nominated Hunter Hayes. With fun-for-all-ages events including teeball, games and rides, and a man-made beach, the televised event is surely one of the most exciting in the Houston area.

$8 thru July 3; $10 at the door. 18-3600 Allen Pkwy. houstontx.gov.

South County 4th of July

9 a.m. – 10 p.m. | The Woodlands

Start off your patriotic day with a 1.3 mile parade beginning and ending at The Woodlands United Methodist Church as you walk with horses, fire trucks and floats. Then, head over to Northshore Park for the “Things That Go” kids bike parade and decorating contest followed by live music from ’80s tribute band The Spicolis. Finally, finish your day off with the classic Red, Hot & Blue Festival at the Town Green Park and Waterway Square, filled with vendor booths, great food, family-friendly fun and a firework extravaganza that’ll last for more than 20 minutes.

Free. Church: 2200 Lake Woodlands; Northshore: 2505 Lake Woodlands Dr; Park and Square: 2099 Lake Robbins Dr. thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov.

No Holds Barbecue: A BBQ eating contest

3:30 p.m. | Beaver’s

Hungry and looking for something different? Head to Beaver’s and vie for the annual No Holds Barbecue Champion Belt of Jewels. Warning: Not for the faint of heart—or stomach.

From $23. 2310 Decatur St. 713-864-2328. beavershouston.com

July 4 Celebration & Street Festival in Tomball

5-10 p.m. | Tomball 

For this year’s Tomball Independence Day festival, the town will close off a portion of Route 249, whereupon fun for the whole family will ensue with bounce castles, music from a Beatles cover band and festival-style bites, all ending with a healthy dose of fireworks to close out the night. 

Free. Rte. 249, Tomball. 281-351-5484. http://www.ci.tomball.tx.us/

4th of July Celebration at Bayou Bend

Noon-5 p.m. | Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

For a more historical tribute to Independence Day, head over to Bayou Bend. Check out cool pieces of Americana, take some time to explore the grounds, indulge in activities and crafts, and listen to a reading of the Declaration of Independence that’s sure to get your inner colonist fired up. Oh, and before you leave, be sure to sign the mega-sized copy of the Declaration. 

Free. 6003 Memorial Drive. 713-639-7750. mfah.org

The Katy Freedom Celebration

July 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; 8-11 p.m. | Katy Mills Mall

Fill your day with fun at the annual Katy Freedom Celebration featuring family events and activities hosted by the Katy Fire Department and the Katy Parks & Recreation Department. Bob your head to live music as the sun goes down and watch as the sky lights up at 8 with the colorful swirls of fireworks.  

Free. 5000 Katy Mills Circle. cityofkaty.com

Memorial City Snow & Ice Celebration

5-8 p.m. | Memorial City Mall

Need to beat the heat? 20,000 pounds of snow should do the trick. Kick off your Independence Day festivities with one of Houston’s most unique events. Adults and children alike will wonder in awe at the various ice sculpture demonstrations while enjoying frozen treats and patriotic snacks.

Free. 303 Memorial City Way. memorialcity.com.

ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights: A Star-Spangled Salute

8:30 p.m. | Miller Outdoor Theater

Let your Fourth of July build to a crescendo and a blaze of colors. Enjoy patriotic tunes under the stars, featuring the soulful vocals of Ryan Shaw and favorites such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture as the Houston Symphony transports you to a world of musical bliss. The performance will be conducted by none other than Steven Reineke, the music director of the largest independent pop orchestra in the United States, the New York Pops.

Free. 6000 Hermann Park Drive. 281-373-3386. milleroutdoortheatre.com

Independence Day Fireworks Spectacular

7-11 p.m. | CityCentre

Experience a summer evening of leisure, dining, fireworks, and live music performed by the People’s Choice Band, even as you stroll explore CityCentre’s various boutiques and dine at its many eateries. Then, don’t miss the signature Independence Day fireworks, which begin at 9:30 p.m. and light up the sky for 15 minutes. (Note: Parking is available at the venue, however if you want to catch an Uber, you may use the code “CCJuly417” to receive a free ride up to $20.)

Free. 800 Town & Country Blvd. 713-629-5200. citycentrehouston.com.

Fourth of July Celebration at Kemah Boardwalk

9:30 p.m. | Kemah Boardwalk

Experience a wonderland of games, rides and live music with friends and family at this perennially popular waterside destination while waiting for a truly magical fireworks blast to light up Galveston Bay.

Free. 215 Kipp Ave. 877-285-3624. kemahboardwalk.com.

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