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The holiday weekend beckons, and Coloradans are eager to break out the brews and firework displays for some classic Fourth of July festivities. Even with COVID-19 vaccines flowing and glimpses of normal summertime life beginning to return, however, Independence Day celebrations are still going to look a bit different this year—or at the very least, they’ll need to look different than last.
In the early summer of 2020, as COVID cases escalated and quarantine wore on, Denverites seemed desperate for any opportunity to let off steam—or rather, smoke—as the city’s skies lit up nearly every night with illegal fireworks, drawing so many as 484 complaints about illegal fireworks to the Denver Police Department on one weekend in June alone (the department received only 15 calls on that same weekend in 2019).
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Airborne fireworks of any kind are still illegal in Colorado. And in Denver, any product that has to be lit (even sparklers) are banned. So, it’s important to leave the pyrotechnics to the pros this year—especially in the wake of Colorado’s historic extreme-heat warnings and the worst drought conditions the American West has seen in over two decades.
Luckily, you can still get your dose of awe at dozens of professionally produced firework extravaganzas along the Front Range this year. We’ve compiled eight of the best here. (For a complete list, check out this map.) Head out to one (or two, or three). You’ll have a blast and save your neighborhood pets ample heartache.
Start the Weekend Right with July 2 Fireworks in Glendale
Where: Creekside Park, 4400 E Virginia Ave, Glendale
Schedule: The show begins at dusk on Friday, July 2, around 9:15 p.m. Nearby streets will be closed from 7:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.
How to watch: No tickets needed—show up to the park with a blanket and late-night snacks.
What’s special: Who said the Fourth of July has to be celebrated on July 4th? Before the weekend has even begun, enjoy the nostalgia of a small-town suburbia show with big pizzazz.
Catch a Friday or Saturday Night Baseball Game at Coors Field
Where: Coors Field, 2001 Blake St, Denver
Schedule: Friday, July 2 at 6:10 p.m or Saturday, July 3 at 7:10 p.m.; the fireworks go off soon after the ninth inning concludes.
How to watch: Tickets for the games start at $50
What’s special: Denverites have options with a doubleheader—two nights, two shows, and (hopefully) two wins over the Diamondbacks. And you know what they say: Baseball and the Fourth of July go together like apple and pie.
Catch a Sunday Night Soccer Game in Commerce City
Where: DICK’s Sporting Goods Park, 600 Victory Way, Commerce City
Schedule: July 4, kickoff is at 7 p.m.; the fireworks will start after the game, around 9 p.m.
How to watch: Tickets for the game start at $35
What’s special: It’s the biggest firework extravaganza in all of the Centennial State. Plus, Sunday will be the first time the stadium accommodates a full-capacity crowd since March of last year. It’s the perfect atmosphere for the Rapids to upset the conference leaders from Seattle.
Bask in the ‘Big Boom Bash’ in Lakewood
Where: Jeffco Stadium, 500 Kipling St, Lakewood
Schedule: The show begins at dusk on July 3, around 9:15 p.m.
How to watch: The stadium itself is closed to the public, so pull up to one of the green spaces or parking lots in a 1.5-mile radius—like Addenbrooke Park or O’Kane Park for quality views.
What’s special: The light show is synced to MIX 100 music, so you’ll feel the rhythm of the night in your bones.
Marvel at Fireworks Framed by the Foothills in Golden
Where: Lions Park, 1300 10th St, Golden
Schedule: Live music and food truck fun starts July 4 at 3 p.m.; the fireworks show kicks off later in the evening, likely soon after 9 p.m.
How to watch: On the grass, while sipping on a lager from Golden City Brewery and lapping up a gelato bar from Hip Pop
What’s special: Local, award-winning bands will be playing rock and “modern outlaw country.” The special prize in the raffle is a sleek football autographed by none other than Denver Broncos star linebacker Bradley Chubb.
Enjoy Afternoon Festivities in Thornton
Where: Carpenter Park, 108th Ave & Colorado Blvd, Thornton
Schedule: The fireworks show starts at 9:30 p.m. on July 4, but the jamboree begins at 4 p.m.
How to watch: In and around the park, but leave your grill, drone, and vape pen at home—they’re not allowed.
What’s special: Food? Check. Beer garden? Check. Parachutists?! Also, check. Plus, a performance by the Thornton Community Band to bring home the feeling of neighborhood camaraderie.
Picnic in Style in Broomfield
Where: Broomfield County Commons Park, 13200 Sheridan Blvd, Broomfield
Schedule: Activities for the whole family (face paints, balloon animals, beer garden) open up on July 4 at 5 p.m.; the live music (a pop a capella group and an ’80s tribute band) starts at 6 p.m.; the fireworks display commences at 9:30 p.m.
How to watch: Show up on two wheels for the bike parade, and don’t forget your classic gingham.
What’s special: The range of concessions—Hawaiian-style shave ice, hot dogs, fajitas, kettle corn, Texas BBQ, and artisanal personal pizza is truly mouth-watering.
Drive in and Turn Out in Larimer County
Where: The Ranch Events Complex, 5280 Arena Circle, Loveland
Schedule: The event center opens for vehicles at 6 p.m. on July 4; the firework show starts around 9:15 p.m. and runs for 20 minutes
How to watch: Pack your family and friends into your Subaru and don’t wait until the last minute—there are 6,000 spots inside the complex. (But if you miss out, there are parking lots adjacent to the Ranch as well.)
What’s special: Weather permitting, Fort Collins is organizing early-morning hot air balloon launches from three parks in town.