There’s no more festive place to be on Independence Day weekend in New York City than Coney Island (Brooklyn). First off, those seeking an early kick-off to the holiday can watch fireworks two nights early—Friday, July 2 starting around 9 pm—in the regular Friday night fireworks show (runs June 18 through Labor Day). On Sunday the 4th, the main event is the Annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, featuring the American Joey Chesnut in hot pursuit of his fourth consecutive title. Get a lowdown on this year’s contest on the NileGuidance blog, and catch the action itself from 10 am-1 pm at Nathan’s, located on 1310 Surf Avenue at Coney Island Avenue (it will also be broadcast on ESPN starting at noon).
If you’re seeking a mini-escape from the city, and want to listen to some great music, you can head to Governors Island on Sunday for a free concert on Water Taxi Beach by the indie-folk duo She & Him (a collaboration between guitarist Matt Ward and singer-actress Zooey Deschanel of 500 Days of Summer fame). Get there early and enjoy some sun on the beach (it opens at 10 am); the concert goes from 4-6 pm.
Finally, the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks is the country’s largest Independence Day celebration, boasting no fewer than 40,000 fireworks set off over the Hudson River from six barges docked between 24th and 50th Streets. The show begins around 9:20 pm, and features live musical performances (the marquee act this year is the floppy-haired heartthrob Justin Bieber). If you’re willing to brave the crushing crowds, you can watch the show from viewing points along Twelfth Avenue; entrances at Eleventh Avenue open at 4:30 pm.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone!