Freedom Over Texas
With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, the city made the painful decision to cancel the in-person portion of its annual Fourth of July celebration along Buffalo Bayou. But don’t worry, Houston’s still celebrating America in style with a three-hour spectacle featuring performances from the Houston Symphony and headliner Pat Green. Other musical guests in the televised special on ABC13 include Hustle Town rappers Bun B and Trae Tha Truth; award-winning Mariachi Imperial De America; and Norteño sibling trio Los Luzeros De Rioverde. There will also be virtual appearances by Lyle Lovett, former Freedom Over Texas headliner Josh Turner, and Houston’s own Grammy-winning La Mafia (which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year), as well as throwback tributes from Hunter Hayes and Sara Evans. If that’s not enough, there will be lots of fireworks—I mean c’mon, it’s Fourth of July, y’all!
July 4. Free. Online and on ABC13. More info at houstontx.gov.
Rediscover the Declaration of Independence
For the past 50 years, the National Archives in Washington has held a special reading of the Declaration of Independence from the museum’s steps on July 4. This year, the event is moving online, which means those of us in the Lone Star State can partake in this capital city tradition. The reading will take place at 3 p.m. C.T., but there are hours of free, educational activities leading up to the big event. Our favorites include a discussion with Thomas Jefferson, author of the famed document; a chance to bake your own apple pan dowdy; and a lesson in quill making (don’t worry, parents, you can download an activity guide ahead of time so you know what supplies to have ready).
Hamilton (and 1776)
Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s zeitgeist-shaping musical, Hamilton, hits Disney+ on July 3, right in time for your at-home Independence Day shindig. Based on the reviews—all of which have been, shall we say, glowing—the live-on-Broadway taping of this musical juggernaut is sure to leave you satisfied. Want to make it a day of Revolutionary War-themed American musicals? The 1972 film version of 1776—featuring William Daniels (the beloved Mr. Feeny of Boy Meets World) in the role of John Adams and Blythe Danner as Martha Jefferson—is available to stream on PlutoTV and also airs July 4 on TCM at 1:30 C.T.
July 4. $6.99, cost of Disney+ subscription (PlutoTV is free). Your TV. Stream on Disney+.
Virtual Independence Day, Bayou Bend
Bayou Bend’s annual Fourth of July festivities are going virtual this year, and they’re filled with kid-friendly activities perfect for celebrating America’s independence. Start the day off with a story-time reading of Faith Ringgold’s illustrated ode to the U.S.’s immigrant history and diversity, We Came to America, before enjoying a rendition of “America the Beautiful” from the Paragon Brass Ensemble. Watch George Washington read the Declaration of Independent over lunch, and finish your afternoon off learning to make your own watercolor fireworks.
July 4. Free. Online. More info at mfah.org.
Take a virtual tour of national landmarks
While your summer vacation plans may have been cancelled, you can still take a virtual trip to see where the U.S.’s road to independence began. Take a video tour of Independence National Historical Park’s Independence Hall, the site where the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and examine the crack in the Liberty Bell through a VR tour (you can even hear what the bell supposedly sounded like back in the old days). Round out your virtual journey through America’s early history with a stop at the historic St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia—the place where Patrick Henry gave his famous “Liberty or Death” speech, which you can watch a reenactment of here. If you’re looking for a more Texas-centric 4th of July celebration, the Alamo is hosting its own online Independence Day activities that include militia drills, firing demonstrations, and patriotic music.
Any time. Free. Online.