Independence Day is a glorious holiday that manages to bypass everything that ruins other holiday weekends. No gift-buying stress, big meals to prepare, stress to have a perfect romantic date or dressing up in fancy clothes. Just blue jeans, barbecue and fireworks. If you play your cards right around the St. Louis area, you can also enjoy live music, parades, carnival rides, shows and cotton candy.
Fair St. Louis
Venue where event is being held
Forest Park
fairsaintlouis.org

Date: July 2, 3 & 4, 2016

Fair St. Louis has been one of the biggest events in the city for as long as anyone can remember. This year, the Fair will once again be held at Forest Park — which was a new location last year, after several decades on the riverfront. This year’s headliners will be Sammy Hagar, FloRida and Lee Brice. The Forest Park location will offer all the food, music and live entertainment locals have come to expect from the Fair, plus the usual showstopping fireworks spectacles each evening.

Riverfest 2016
Frontier Park
222 S. Riverside Drive
St. Charles, MO 63301
www.historicstcharles.com

Date: July 1–4, 2016

As the city expands to the west, residents west of the Missouri river have developed their own celebration of the holiday, sometimes on a grand scale. Riverfest is a four-day festival on the riverfront in St. Charles that delivers food, carnival rides, a craft market, and live music and entertainment galore. Fireworks take place on July 3 and 4 at 9:20 p.m. Don’t miss the parade at 10 a.m. on Monday the fourth.

Fireworks On The Mississippi
Riverfront Park
Landmarks Blvd.
Alton, IL
visitalton.com

Date: July 3 at 9:00 p.m.

On the Illinois side of the river, residents can still enjoy spectacular fireworks reflected on the surface of the Mighty Mississippi. The colorful show is launched from barges on the river, and you can watch from the safety of the shore in Alton, Grafton, or anywhere in between. This popular event always draws a crowd. The show is scheduled late enough to show up well against the night sky, but early enough to bring the kids. Tip: If you decide to have dinner before the show in one of the many restaurants along the Great River Road, make reservations early.

Related: Top Friend-Date Locations In St. Louis

Webster Groves Community Days
Memorial Park
I-44 just south of the Elm Avenue exit
Webster Groves, MO 63119
webstergroves.org

Date:  July 2–4, 2016

Webster Groves Community Days is an old-fashioned neighborhood celebration that includes a carnival, barbecue, parade and fireworks. This event draws people from all over the St. Louis area who prefer to avoid the crowds at some of the bigger festivals. Don’t miss the parade on the fourth at 10 a.m. or the fireworks shows each evening at 9:30 p.m.

O’Fallon Heritage And Freedom Festival
Ozzie Smith Sports Complex
O’Fallon, MO
heritageandfreedomfest.com

Date: July 2–4, 2016

The Heritage and Freedom Festival in O’Fallon, MO offers free admission, free concerts, free parking and free shuttle service. A full-blown carnival with rides, games and food will amuse your whole family during Family Night on July 2. July 3 is Country Music Night, and for the 4th of July, you can enjoy live music for Rock ‘n Roll Night. Fireworks shows, free concerts, side shows, kids’ activities, vendors and food booths guarantee  a fantastic Independence Day experience for the whole family.

Related: Top Open Mic Comedy Shows In St. Louis

Lauren Haas is a nomadic freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Visit her blog at http://www.thesoulofajourney.com.