Where to watch the 4th of July fireworks

People’s patriotic playground: Coney Island celebrates America’s birthday with its own dazzling Fourth of July fireworks display.
Brooklyn Paper
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It’s going to be a blast!

Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show will return to the East River again this year, launching from barges parked on the East River just off Newtown Creek — the border between Brooklyn and Queens. This year’s pyrotechnics, which will start at 9:25 pm, promise to be the best yet, with new shells blasting pinwheels, hearts, and swirling fountains in 25 colors into the sky. But it will be distant viewing for those in Brooklyn Heights and points south!

The best option for watching the fireworks is to have a friend in Greenpoint or Williamsburg who has rooftop access and is willing to invite you over. But if you do not have those connections, you need to make a plan to catch the patriotic explosives show! So we have charted some of the best spots to catch the show, whether you are on a champagne or picnic blanket budget.

Why wait?

Get well ahead of the crowds by celebrating the Fourth of July four days early! The Fort Hamilton Parkway Army Base in Bay Ridge will hold its own Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, June 30, featuring food vendors and a concert of local bands, including Raine Torae, Heshima Moja, and the Best Kept Secret playing rock, salsa, and rhythm and blues, followed by a fireworks display. Admission is free, but you have to sign up in advance at, and show a United States ID card at the gate.

Fort Hamilton Sports Field (enter at 101st Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway in Bay Ridge, (718) 630–4771, June 30, 5:30–10 pm. Free.

Free parking

Going to a public park is definitely the cheapest option — it doesn’t cost a dime to head down to the waterfront and lay down a blanket anywhere you can see the sky. But you have to set out early! If you have not staked out a spot by 5 pm, some other enterprising picnicker may have nabbed it.

The best spot in Brooklyn to watch the fireworks may be the pier at Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, which stretches far into the water. The park itself also offers plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the show, and has easy access to nearby restaurants and bars if you want a break or to carry out some food.

Transmitter Park (Greenpoint Avenue between West Street and the water in Greenpoint). Free.

A few blocks to the south, East River State Park and Bushwick Inlet Park have plenty of green space, although the views are best down closest to the water. One advantage to this particular green oasis: a public bathroom beneath the raised viewing area at Kent Avenue and N. Ninth Street.

East River State Park and Bushwick Inlet Park (Kent Avenue between N. Seventh and N. 10th streets in Williamsburg). Free.

You may be tempted to visit the new Domino Park on the south edge of Williamsburg to view the fireworks, but the high-rise buildings at N. Fifth Street, a few blocks north, will probably make it hard to see the action.

Let’s get high

Rooftop bars and restaurants offer a guaranteed view of the fireworks, in plenty of comfort.

Aussie restaurant and bar Northern Territory has an excellent rooftop view of the explosive action, and will throw an all-afternoon party for America’s birthday starting at 4 pm. Admission costs $60, and it is cash only, first-come, first-served. A dee-jay will provide music, and there are likely to be jello shots and other events, but you will have to buy your own food and drinks.

Northern Territory [12 Franklin St. at Meserole Avenue in Greenpoint, (347) 689–4065,]. $60.

The top of the William Vale hotel is the highest you’re going to get, with an “IndepenDan­ce!” party happening across its 22nd and 23rd floors, both of which offer amazing views of the East River. The $100 admission price will get you a buffet meal with sliders, wings, dumplings, and other snacks, and disk jockeys from the Babel group spinning from 5 pm to midnight. Note: the website currently offers a $150 ticket, but that won’t get you anything extra.

Babel presents IndepenDance at the William Vale [111 N. 12th St. at Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 307–7100,]. July 4 at 5 pm. $100 (table reservation $500 per person).

Ship shape

Why bother to peer around buildings when you can just get on the water? Ferry service on the East River will shut down after 2 pm on July 4, but you can still reserve a spot on a party boat, which will sail the East River for an unobstructed view of the celebration.

The cheapest option is to get on a fishing boat. The Marilyn Jean IV usually takes people on fishing expeditions, but on July 4 it will take up to 110 customers on a trip to the East River. It’s a simple ship, so pack your own cooler with food and drinks (no hard liquor), and prepare for a five-hour trip, with music provided by the radio simulcast of the Macy’s show.

Marilyn Jean IV (2150 Emmons Ave. between E. 21st and Dooley streets in Sheepshead Bay, (917) 650–3212, Boarding at 5 pm, leaves at 6 pm. $65 ($45 kids). [Editor’s note: Never mind, it’s sold out now]

For a wilder party, the Pink Lady party yacht will offer a full buffet dinner, a DJ, and a cash bar to those setting out to see the fireworks.

Pink Lady Fireworks Dinner Cruise at Pier 7 [2100 Emmons Ave. between E. 21st and Dooley streets in Sheepshead Bay,]. 5–11 pm. $175 ($129 kids).

Setting out from Sunset Park’s Army Terminal is the more family-friendly Independence Day Fireworks Cruise aboard the JP2 yacht. It also has a buffet and a cash bar.

Independence Day Fireworks Cruise at Brooklyn Army Terminal Pier 8 [140 58th St. at First Avenue in Sunset Park, 7:30–11 pm (boarding at 6:30 pm). $125.

Barge and in charge!

Split the difference between land and sea at the Greenpoint bar Brooklyn Barge! Floating just a short distance near the barges launching fireworks, it is in prime position for Independence Day viewing, and they know it! Tickets start at $180 for communal seating at the barge’s land-locked bar, which includes a meal of hot dogs, hamburgers, and others snacks, and go up to $1,390 for a reserved table for six (that’s $232 apiece) on board the barge itself, along with a meal of steak, shrimp, and potato salad.

The Brooklyn Barge [97 West St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (929) 337–7212,]. $180–$1,390.

Coney calling!

You can also go for the home-grown fireworks alternative at the People’s Playground! Coney Island will launch fireworks after every Cyclones game next week (July 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6), but the biggest and best show will happen on July 4 at 9 pm. The best viewing is from the Boardwalk, anywhere between W. Eighth and W. 21st streets, but you can see the action from any spot in Coney Island with a view of the sky — including the rooftop bars at Kitchen 21, Wahlburgers, and Tom’s Diner. On Independence Day, we recommend catching the Cyclones game against the Aberdeen Ironbirds, where all tickets are just $10 and you can watch the fireworks from your seat!

Brooklyn Cyclones vs Aberdeen IronBirds at MCU Park [1904 Surf Ave. at W. 17th Street in Coney Island, (718) 449–8497,]. July 4 at 6 pm. $10.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Updated 5:40 pm, July 9, 2018
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