Fireworks in Jacksonville, FL
The name says it all: “American Pie Fourth of July.” This family-centric Independence Day celebration in Orange Park features a patriotic parade, rides, games, arts and crafts and pie – lots of pie. Enter the pie baking contest to see how your culinary skills hold up, or just grab a few slices for your own judging. Got some pent up aggression? Take it out on a local elected official or corporate bigwig at the pie throwing station. Of course, they save the best for last. The annual fireworks show on the grounds of Mooshaven (a retirement home first built for members of the Order of the Moose in 1922) rivals any other in the Southeast. A grassy spot on the Moosehaven lawn or along the St. Johns riverbank makes for the best fireworks viewing.
Independence Day in the Nation’s Oldest City always features Big Bands and big bangs. Pick your partner and dance to Big Band and Swing music played from the Plaza de la Constitución in St. Augustine’s Historic District early evening. As dusk falls, find a spot enjoy the annual Fireworks Over the Matanzas, choreographed to popular and patriotic tunes. Favorite spots include the bayfront lawn between the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument (informally known as the Old Fort) and the Bridge of Lions; the front porch of the Tini Martini & Wine Bar, part of the historic Casablanca Inn; or the spacious balcony at A1A Aleworks.
Downtown Jacksonville’s most patriotic celebration happens each July 4 on the St. Johns River. A massive fireworks show launches from river barges docked near the Jacksonville Landing and the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront and is expertly choreographed to a patriotic soundtrack pumped over a massive audio system. Top spots for viewing the fireworks include the Jacksonville Landing courtyard or the balcony of one of its riverfront restaurants on the Northbank; Friendship Park or the patio bar of the River City Brewing Co. restaurant on the Southbank. Arrive by boat and dock along the Northbank or Southbank, or at the Metropolitan Park Marina.
In Jacksonville, the collective New Year celebration is all about the pigskin. A week’s worth of parades, parties and pageants lead up to the annual Gator Bowl Classic football game between competitors in the Big Ten Conference and the Southeastern Conference. The first kickoff was in 1946 and the winning team took home a $20,000 payout – a prize that has since grown to more than $5.4 million. Over the decades, the Gator Bowl has grown to become Northeast Florida’s favorite sports tradition. And the festivities always include a massive New Year’s Eve fireworks show. Don your favorite team’s colors and head Downtown for a tailgating party like no other.
Never does Jacksonville light up like it does each late November for the Jacksonville Light Parade. Tens of thousands of tiny, twinkling bulbs decorate dozens of vessels from the smallest private sailboats to massive corporate yachts – all competing for prizes and bragging rights. It’s a favorite local tradition that attracts crowds 200,000 strong. But the real show-stealer is the incredible fireworks display launched from multiple barges anchored in the St. Johns River, and additional stations on the Main Street and Acosta Bridges. Watch for the signature “waterfall” fireworks flowing from either side of the two major downtown bridges. Bring blankets or lawn chairs and arrive early for a great spot on either the Northbank or Southbank Riverwalks.