Fifty-three thousand voices sing the “Star Spangled Banner” in unison. A rainbow of fireworks explodes with the backdrop of the Flatiron Mountains.
It’s no wonder Travel + Leisure has named Boulder one of America’s Best Towns for July 4th multiple times.
Boulder knows how to party, and it shows its patriotism in its own way on July 4. Here are the seven best ways to experience Independence Day in and around Boulder, if you’re lucky enough to be visiting during this holiday.
1. Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast
This fireworks display at the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field is hands down the best way to celebrate the Fourth in Northern Colorado. Starting at 8 p.m., people file into the giant football stadium for a free tradition that Boulder has celebrated since 1941. First, there’s a sing-along with live music. Then comes the school’s mascot, a live buffalo named Ralphie. She does a tour of the field to kick off the main event: fireworks that light up the sky when the sun sets. This year, it’s around 9:35 p.m.
For 2019, the live performers are School of Rock, Card Catalog and Pro-Leisure.
Other entertainment in the past has included park rangers, a skip rope team, a marching band and live music.
Although the stadium’s capacity is 53,000, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a seat; that’s how popular Ralphie’s party is. Parking is another project entirely. Parking is free downtown and on campus on the Fourth, but the best bet is to take advantage of the free transportation via wkre.com. Bus rides to the event are free. So come early, take public transportation and stay late.
After the fireworks display, stroll down University Hill to the Pearl Street Mall to grab a late bite to eat at one of our favorite late-night dining destinations.
2. Pearl Street
Start the day on Pearl Street. From 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m. on July 4, kids can ride the Tebo Train for free up and down the mall. Meet outside the Wells Fargo building on the mall for regular pick-ups throughout the morning. You can take a free bus ride on the Hop from this event to Folsom, if you want to do both Pearl Street and Ralphie’s bash.
Or if you’d rather stay downtown, the George Nelson Band is playing at License No. 1, the speakeasy-style bar below the Hotel Boulderado, starting at 9 p.m.
3. Superior’s Fourth of July Parade and Festival
Head east of Boulder if you want to do the Fourth with a small-town flair. The town of Superior has a parade and pancake breakfast 7 a.m.-noon on July 4 at Community Park, 1350 Coalton Road. This event, hosted by the town’s chamber of commerce, is free and family-friendly. In addition to pancakes, you’ll find live music, games, a kickball tournament, vendor booths and more. The parade theme for 2019 is “Land That I Love.”
The day begins with The Superior Downhill Mile, which claims to be the “fastest street mile in the United States.” The parade begins at 8:30 a.m.
4. Longmont’s Concert in the Park
Northeast of Boulder, the city of Longmont will celebrate the Fourth of July with a free concert in the park. The show, from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Thompson Park, 420 Bross St., will feature the Longmont Symphony Orchestra’s patriotic music — and even cannons to accent the “1812 Overture.”
Pack a picnic, bring your family and play games. Kick it up a notch and enroll in the picnic contest. Around noon, judges will award prizes to the top 10 picnics.
Also on the stage: the Longmont Youth Symphony and the Longmont Chorale.
For more information, visit Fourth of July Concert in the Park.
5. Fourth of July Twang-Fest and Barbecue
Head west for this cute community celebration. The small, mountain town of Gold Hill does Independence Day with a “Twang-Fest” and BBQ starting at noon at the Gold Hill Inn, 401 Main St. Enjoy live music and food with the locals for $20 (plus $15 more if you want to eat). This is proof that you don’t need big crowds and flashy fireworks to feel patriotic. Sometimes, a close-knit community, good food and good music do the trick. For more info, email [email protected]
Musical highlights for 2019 include Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams, Whippoorwill and Stillhouse Junkies.
6. Waneka Lake Fourth of July
The Boulder County city Lafayette does a great event and fireworks show on the banks of Waneka Lake, starting at 4:30 p.m. on July 4. The city bills this as an “old-fashioned” celebration, with live music, food, kids games (like a bungee trampoline, pony rides and a bouncy house), face painting, a beer, cider and wine garden for the grown-ups and, of course, fireworks when the sun goes down.
Food includes pizza, wieners, fried cheese and more. The musical guest is Chris Daniels and the Kings (the same music as 2018). The event is free (with extra fees for some activities) and open to the public.
Other Things to Do on the Fourth
- Noon: Fourth of July BBQ+Potluck+Games, South Boulder Recreation Center, 1360 Gillaspie Drive, Boulder
- 4 p.m.: Peak2peak plays at the Oskar Blues Boulder Taproom, 921 Pearl St., Boulder
- 4 p.m.: Boulder Collegians baseball team vs. Fort Collins Foxes, Scott Carpenter Park, 1505 30th St., Boulder
- 6 p.m.: 2019 Boulder Stroke & Stride Series, Boulder Reservoir, 5565 51st St., Boulder
- 10 p.m.: Dead & Co. Pre-Party with Shakedown Street (a Grateful Dead tribute band) at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder