Nothing says summer more than July 4, whether you celebrate with friends at a backyard barbecue or whether you attend a giant festival filled with thousands of people. Either way, this holiday is filled with family fun.

While you can certainly set off some fireworks in your driveway or watch while other people do (as long as you live in an area where it’s legal), if you really want to see the big booms, heading out to a fireworks show is the way to go. Some fireworks shows are preceded by a day full of activities, by a baseball game and some are just straight-up fireworks after dark. Check out the list of what’s going on in Pierce County this year.

Tacoma Fireworks
Waiting for the fireworks at dusk at the Tacoma Freedom Fair. Photo credit: Kristin Kendle

Freedom Fair

By numbers, Tacoma’s Freedom Fair is the largest July 4 celebration in the state! The event stretches for almost a mile along Ruston Way and brings in a bit of everything. Vendor booths line the way, featuring artists and craftspeople and snacks alike. Food booths and trucks are plentiful – grab a meal, or snack your way through the day with ears of corn and chocolate-dipped strawberries and elephant ears. There are several live entertainment stages, and while usually there’s a car show, in 2018 there will not be. Pull up a chair in a beer garden while you listen to a band, or kick back on a stretch of beach and take a break. Mid-day, there’s an air show right over the water, so there’s not a bad view anywhere. And at 10:00 p.m., fireworks fill the sky, also above the water. You can enjoy a great view anywhere along the shore, and many even find a spot on the hillsides and sidewalks leading up from the Waterfront too. The festival is free, but asks for donations to keep it that way. You can find donation boxes at the entrances. Parking is at a premium so it’s best to take one of the provided shuttles in, or park in a surrounding neighborhood and walk down. The event starts around 11:00 a.m. and goes all day long until the fireworks at dark.

Freedom Fair Airshow
Like jets, vintage planes and other aircraft? Freedom Fair has an airshow, but also don’t miss Gig Harbor Wings and Wheels. Photo courtesy: Freedom Fair

Gig Harbor Wings and Wheels

Now in its eighth year, Wings and Wheels is under the Tacoma Freedom Fair umbrella, but is a separate event. In fact, it doesn’t take place on July 4, but it serves as a bonus way to jump into the spirit of summer – especially if you love air shows and aviation. The event takes place on June 30 and July 1, 2018, at the Tacoma Narrows Airport. Expect just what the event name suggests – airplanes and cars. Throughout the day, there will be aerobatic performances and fly-overs, but also planes on display and a car show with more than 200 cars. Even if your family isn’t all thrilled at the wings and wheels, no worries. There’s plenty else to do, too. Vendor booths, food, a beer garden and kids activities round things out. On Saturday, the gates open at 4:00 p.m. and from 5:10 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. there will be live flying and a jet car race. Saturday night is also bike night. Arrive via bike (from unicycles all the way up to motorcycles count) and you’ll get discounted entry and free parking. Sunday, gates open at 11:00 p.m. and the day features activities all day long until 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $10-$50 and parking is $10.

Summer Sounds at Skansie

Summer Sounds at Skansie is a series of concerts at Skansie Brothers Park on the Gig Harbor waterfront that goes from June until August. On July 3, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. get into the July 4 spirit with the 133rd Army Band. It’s free. It’s fun. Bring a chair or towel and a snack and enjoy the atmosphere.

Cheney Stadium fireworks
Fireworks after Cheney Stadium games happen every Friday night home game, but also on July 3. Photo courtesy: Red Williamson/Tacoma Rainiers.

July 3 Extravaganza at Cheney Stadium

Tacoma Rainiers home games on Friday nights always end with fireworks, but one special game each season serves up some extra fireworks – the July 3 Fireworks Extravaganza at Cheney Stadium are bigger, better and brighter than other fireworks displays. This year’s July 3 game is against the Reno Aces and the game starts at 7:05 p.m. Enjoy the game and then stay for the fireworks, which take place about 10 to 15 minutes after the game ends. Two nights of fireworks is always better than one.

Steilacoom’s 4th of July Parade and Celebration

The event Steilacoom is most well known for takes place on the 4th of July. Each year, the Steilacoom Chamber of Commerce presents the Grand Old 4th of July Celebration in conjunction with the Town of Steilacoom. The parade will be filled with activities and events such as the kid’s bike parade, a street fair, live music, a beer garden, many great food vendors, a blessing your pets, and much more. Every year, this event ends with a bang — literally — as the Fireworks Presentation Committee treats us all to a spectacular fireworks extravaganza over Puget Sound.

JBLM Freedom Fest

JBLM’s Freedom Fest brings on not one, but two days of July 4 celebrations. On July 3, from 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., the event is open only to DOD ID card holders and their guests. July 4, from 11:00 a.m. until the fireworks at dark, the gates open to the public. Both days include carnival rides, food, live music and roving entertainment, games and plenty of family fun, but each day has something different, too. July 3 has a Classy Chassis car show. July 4 features America’s First Corps Band and country star David Lee Murphy from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. July 4 also has the Kids’ World Stage with live entertainment just for the younger set all day.

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