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The 4th of July is one of the biggest national holidays in the United States. This is the day that the country celebrates its birthday and that means a big party in the Big Apple. Don’t expect a piece of cake and some balloons, but rather parades, shows, lavish parties and spectacular fireworks. On perhaps the most important day of the year for Americans, New York offers you a ‘star-spangled’ programme.
The 4th of July, or Independence Day, celebrates American Independence. On 4 July 1776, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence which was written by Thomas Jefferson (who would later become President). This is the day when the 13 British colonies became independent from Great Britain and the United States was born. In 1776, advisor John Adams wrote a letter to his wife in which he predicted that Independence Day would be celebrated across the country for all eternity with parades, shows, sports events and bonfires. And he was right!
Although most festivities take place at night, there is still plenty to do in the daytime. A great way to follow in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers (the founders of American Independence) is to take a historic walk through Lower Manhattan. On this walk you will learn what role New York City played during the American Revolution. The stroll takes you to the spot where the first American President George Washington was sworn in and the place where the Declaration of Independence was first read to New Yorkers. Or hop on the subway to Coney Island to attend the infamous annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. What started out as a joke among friends who wanted to prove their patriotism has grown into an event that is watched by millions of people and draws thousands to Coney Island. The current record is held by Joey Chestnut from San Jose: he devoured 69 hot dogs (including the buns) in 10 minutes…
And then there is the highlight of the day: it wouldn’t be the 4th of July without the traditional fireworks display that has been set off since the bicentennial in 1976. For years the event took place along the Hudson River, but last year it was moved to the Brooklyn Bridge. One of the best spots to view the fireworks is from Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Here you can find a front row seat and enjoy a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline. As it gets very busy, we recommend arriving around 5 o’clock in the afternoon to stake out a spot. The fireworks begin at 9 o’clock at night, but it’s easy to kill time with a picnic blanket on the grass and a pizza from Grimaldi’s.
334 Furman Street, Brooklyn, New York City
You can also finish the 4th of July ‘Manhattan-style’. Throughout the city you will find parties at the most spectacular rooftop bars. Leave the busy streets behind and sip a cocktail as you enjoy the view. The Bentley Hotel on 62nd Street is a guaranteed success, with fabulous views of the fireworks and the skyline. It is quite pricey but you will get to party like a true New Yorker. Another iconic location is the rooftop terrace of the Gansevoort Hotel in the trendy Meatpacking District. The hotel features a wrap-around balcony with a 360-degree view of the city.