Did you know that Travel & Leisure put Boulder in their Top 5 cities to spend the July 4th holiday in, not once, but twice? I didn’t until I started doing some research on the subject, but, growing up here, it doesn’t surprise me one iota. Boulder loves all the things traditionally connected to July 4th celebrations: beer, outdoor activities, and a festival atmosphere. It’s all here, and celebrating our country is one more happy excuse to do those things Boulder always loves.
There are so many things to do in Boulder for the 4th of July; I’d have to create a whole new website just for that. But there are a few traditions that no Boulderite would consider doing without this year, so allow me to describe only a few, if not all, of the elaborate festivities we all have planned across the county for our yearly patriotic celebrations. From fireworks to festive beverages to athletic events, Boulder has it all and more for Independence Day.
The fireworks at Folsom Field, otherwise known as Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast, is the traditional go-to for Boulder when it comes to enjoying fireworks. Anyone like me who grew up in Boulder knows what a good time the Folsom Stadium celebrations are: there’s music and other entertainment, there’s a huge crowd to hobnob with, and of course there’s the enormous fireworks display, close up, that feels as though the sparks are dropping on your upturned, awestruck face (don’t worry, they’re not).
Festivities at Folsom begin at 8pm (with doors opening at 7:45), but of course they wait till after dark to start the fireworks. This time of the year in Boulder CO, that tends to be around 9:30. Yep, that late. Hey, it’s a holiday, and it’s so worth it.
A Comprehensive View: of course, being nestled in close to the mountains as Boulder is, there are many places to go sit on your picnic blanket for free in a high place and view not only Boulder’s fireworks, but Longmont’s, Lafayette’s, and even all the way out to Broomfield and Denver, if you can find the right spot. Just know that often Boulder officials close roads or are otherwise quite on guard when it comes to folx traipsing around in the foothills. And of course, know where you’re going and don’t trespass on private land.
If you’re more interested in skipping Boulder proper and going north into other places in Boulder County, know that there’s another huge and spectacular fireworks display up in Longmont, at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. Longmont knows how to have down home country style outdoor celebrations, and July 4th is no different—plus, it’s a different scene than the Folsom stadium: more parking, close by viewing areas, and more. And their fireworks are awesome—some of the best you’ll experience.
When it comes to fireworks from home, it’s a good idea (and common courtesy) to check on the people and animals around you that may not have a good reaction to those noises and flashes. And of course, in Boulder’s normally arid climate and dry wildfire-prone summers (though maybe not so much this year), you’ll want to check and make sure what’s legal to do on your own. Be mindful (as Boulderites are so good at), use your best judgment, and if there’s any question, go see the pros do it instead.
Picnicking & Other Outdoor Fun
It’s pretty much par for the course (see what I did there) to spend quality time outside in Boulder on July 4th—way too many options to list here, but there are a few I couldn’t pass up sharing with you, in case you needed some outdoorsy ideas for this Thursday’s holiday:
The Louisville Slugger Independence Day Tournament is happening again this year, all weekend including the 4th. What’s that, you ask? Why, it’s an enormous (80 team!) tournament of young women’s softball, and it’s happening all over Boulder’s diamonds: both the ones at Stazio and at Mapleton. This should be the most exciting women’s athletics to experience since the recent World Cup, and it’s right here in Boulder. Who are you rooting for?
The Four on the 4th 4K event is happening again up at Gunbarrel’s Avery brewery, and it’s a fabulous way to begin your 4th of July. In its 12th year, the Four on the 4th is a uniquely Boulder way to celebrate—footrace and free Avery beer afterwards? What’s not to like?
The Boulder Reservoir is open on the 4th, for swimming and sunning and anything else you like to do on our excuse for a beach.
Chautauqua is of course another popular spot for fireworks fans, but it’s also just a beautiful place to go enjoy the beauty that is Boulder’s outdoors. If there’s a better way to celebrate this country, I’m not sure what it could be.
Except that I hear Arapahoe Basin, for one, will be open for skiing (!) on the 4th of July, so…
The Boulder Concert Band is on the Green this July 4th; Chautauqua green, that is! You do not want to miss Colonel Thomas H. Palmatier, Army band veteran, with the stellar Boulder Concert Band and a rousing concert outside on the green to celebrate the USA. This fandango begins at 9am, so it’s a fantastic way to begin your holiday.
However! There are many choices for amazing music the day after the holiday, that is, on July 5th; including but not limited to: The Dead & Company up at Folsom Field, The 29th Street LOVE the Tunes weekend-ly outdoor festival, and the Colorado Music Festival’s patriotic selections that form the concert called “Revolution & Freedom.” You don’t need to limit your celebrations of revolution and freedom to only the 4th, after all, and why would you?
Mountain Sun is open on the 4th for regular hours! And what could be nicer than to eat their tasty and award winning food while enjoying their also award winning selection of beers of all kinds, while either people watching on their patio, or socializing inside?
If you’re more of a nomad for your holiday, you could start there and then move on along the Boulder Beer Trail , which will span the length and breadth of the city, with breweries, bars, distilleries, and all the rest, whether you’re looping NoBo, Gunbarrel, or staying central. Do check ahead of time for everyone’s holiday hours before you embark, however.
At the Avery Brewery 4K event, their beer is gratis, too, as mentioned above, don’t forget…
How to Get Everywhere
Of course, it’s highly recommended to not drive pretty much ever in Boulder, but especially on July 4th. But Boulder is well set up for all the festivities with none of the parking. Here’s some good choices for transportation to and from any events you’re interested in (and helps your carbon footprint to boot):
Folsom Field will have a free shuttle to its holiday festivities, starting down at 29th street mall. But the HOP bus (which loops all over Boulder, including right at the stadium) will be free all day and night on the 4th, so you can’t beat that either.
Getting down to Gunbarrel and Avery brewery is easy by bus too—RTD’s 205 goes right by there. Just know it’ll be on a holiday schedule. But then, who’s in a hurry on a holiday, am I right? If you’re going to Longmont, there’s the Bolt bus. And there’s also the Park-To-Park shuttle, which treks frequently between Pearl Street Mall and Chautauqua, so definitely look at that if you’re going up to that area.
What are you planning on doing July 4th? Let us know in the comments.