We're not only Texas proud, we're America proud, and there's no better way to celebrate our great nation than with Independence Day (and weekend) celebrations throughout Houston and surrounding areas. With opportunities all over Harris County, there's something for everybody. Happy Birthday, America!
Friday, July 1
Red, White & Zoo at the Houston Zoo
We're not the only ones who swelter in the heat. Come see the Houston Zoo animals in the cooler evening hours. Visitors can make a flag, march in a parade, and look for red, white and blue animals. 5 to 8 p.m. July 1, Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-533-6500 or visit houstonzoo.org/cool-nights. Free to $16.
CityCentre July 4 Weekend Celebration
Everything's bigger at CityCentre, and especially with this four-day extravaganza, offering a different musical act on each day. It kicks off with the Motown and classic rock sounds of Soul Infinity. 7 to 10 p.m. July 1. CityCentre, 800 West Sam Houston Parkway North. For information, call 713-629-5200 or visit citycentrehouston.com/events/detail/july-four-fireworks-spectacular. Free.
4th of July Jazz Celebration
Celebrate our country's birthday through patriotic and uplifting music, courtesy of Joe Burlison and his "A List" band. 8:30 p.m. July 1, Dosey Doe Coffee House, 25911 I-45 North, The Woodlands. For information, call 281-367-3774 or visit doseydoe.com. $15 to $20.
Texas Family Musicals: American Pride
Moody Gardens hosts Texas Family Musicals with four days of classic theater. Performances of American Pride are at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. July 1-3; 2:30 and 7 p.m. July 4. Moody Gardens Convention Center, 7 Hope Boulevard, Galveston. For information, call 855-667-1221 or visit texasfamilymusicals.com. $17.50 to $35.
Bands on the Sand
The oh-so-private Palm Beach at Moody Gardens has been celebrating all summer with Bands on the Sand and ending each show with fireworks over the pyramids and Offatts Bayou. Come celebrate Independence Day weekend with the Intercoastal Pirates on July 1 and the Space Monkeys on July 2. 6 to 10 p.m. July 1 and 2, Palm Beach at Moody Gardens, One Hope Boulevard, Galveston. For information, call 800-582-4673 or visit moodygardens.org. Free to $15.
The Kemah Boardwalk celebrates with fireworks at 9:30 p.m. every Friday night through the end of July. Watch the pyrotechnics sparkle over Galveston Bay, then stay for late-night specials. Kemah Boardwalk, 2155 Kipp Avenue, Kemah. For information, call 877-285-3624 or visit kemahboardwalk.com. Free.
Saturday, July 2
Red, White & 'Que Fest at Armadillo Palace
Goode's Armadillo Palace has undergone a makeover, so come celebrate with dancing and live music by The Guzzlers, beer tastings courtesy of Buffalo Bayou Brewery, plus tasty cocktails. They'll be cooking up an entire half cow on the rotisserie and, while you wait, enjoy complimentary tacos and passed appetizers. 4 to 10 p.m. July 2, Goode's Armadillo Palace, 5015 Kirby. For information, call 713-526-9700 or visit thearmadillopalace.com. $15.
Houston Dynamo: Armed Forces Appreciation Night
The Houston Dynamo celebrates Armed Forces Appreciation Night beginning with a pre-game flyover by the U.S. Coast Guard. There's a special "Red, White and BBQ" event catered by Dickey's BBQ, and it's free for the first 100 military members with valid ID; everybody else pays just $10. For this Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union match, they're offering a special "buy one give one ticket" special, where you can purchase a ticket to the game and have another ticket donated to a military member or veteran. Representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines will have giveaway items at interactive stations outside the stadium. Stay after for the fireworks with patriotic-themed music. 7:45 p.m. July 2. BBVA Compass Stadium, 2200 Texas. For information, call 713-547-3000 or visit houstondynamo.com. $28 to $136
CityCentre July 4 Weekend Celebration
The four-day extravaganza at CityCentre, offering a different musical act on each day, continues with the classic rock and country sounds of Cypress Republic Band. 7 to 10 p.m. July 2. CityCentre, 800 West Sam Houston Parkway North. For information, call 713-629-5200 or visit citycentrehouston.com/events/detail/july-four-fireworks-spectacular. Free.
Sunday, July 3
Round Top Music Festival 2016: Patriotic Concert
Perhaps the high point of the five-week music festival, predicted to sell-out, is the Patriotic Concert conducted by Perry So. Hear favorites like the "Star Spangled Banner," the "National Emblem March," "Stars and Stripes Forever," and more. 3 to 4:30 p.m. July 3. Round Top Festival Institute, 248 Jaster Road, Round Top. For information, call 979-249-3129 or visit festivalhill.org. $10 to $45.
CityCentre July 4 Weekend Celebration
The four-day extravaganza at CityCentre, offering a different musical act on each day, continues with the inspirational sounds of Sunday Night Live. 7 to 10 p.m. July 3. CityCentre, 800 West Sam Houston Parkway North. For information, call 713-629-5200 or visit citycentrehouston.com/events/detail/july-four-fireworks-spectacular. Free.
Houston Symphony: Star-Spangled Salute
Come out to The Woodlands for this longstanding tradition (more than 25 years), featuring a selection of patriotic favorites by the Houston Symphony and Principal POPS Conductor Designate Steven Reineke. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and the Pavilion always has great preconcert activities for children. 8 p.m. July 3, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands. For information, call 281-363-3300 or visit woodlandscenter.org. Free.
41st Annual Independence Day Celebration
This one's a two-parter, beginning on Sunday and continuing on Monday. On July 3, enjoy food and game booths, plus free carnival rides, a dance and a hay ride. Musical guests are Chris Brade Band, Jerome Batiste and the Zydeko Players. Come back the next day for a concert and fireworks. 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. July 3. Stafford Centre, 10505 Cash, Stafford. For information, call 281-208-6900 or visit staffordcentre.com. Free.
Monday, July 4
27th Annual Katy Freedom Celebration
Come early to Katy Mills Mall for tours of the City of Katy Fire Station, the Katy Heritage Museum and the VFW Museum, plus a luncheon and auction at the VFW Hall. Come back for the pyrotechnics at 9 p.m., courtesy of PyroTex, though they can be seen for miles around. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., returning at 9 p.m. July 4. Katy Mills Mall, 5000 Katy Mills Circle, Katy. For information, call 281-391-4840 or visit cityofkaty.com. Free.
Spend Independence Day at Independence Plaza
If you haven't visited Independence Plaza yet at Space Center Houston, the Fourth of July offers a great opportunity to enter the shuttle replica Independence, mounted on the historic NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft. Explore both spaces and view artifacts from actual flown missions, though timed access tickets are used to enter the shuttle. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 4. Space Center Houston, 1601 Nasa Parkway. For information, call 281-244-2100 or visit spacecenter.org. $19.95 to $31.
Bellaire July 4th Parade & Festival
The kickoff parade at the Bellaire Triangle is limited to the first 75 entrants and will be led by children with decorated bikes, strollers and wagons. It ends at Bellaire Town Square, which will have carnival games, a petting zoo, moon jumps and even a mini Ferris wheel. 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 4. Bellaire Town Square, 7001 Fifth Street, Bellaire. For information, call 713-662-8280 or visit bellairetx.gov/879/July-4th-Parade-and-Festival. Free to watch and attend; rides and food are extra.
H-E-B Fireworks on the Brazos
Celebrate national Independence Day at Washington on the Brazos, the place "Where Texas Became Texas." The annual celebration includes live music by the Cody Bryan Band beginning at 7 p.m., followed by a 9:30 p.m. fireworks show. Sponsor H-E-B will be on hand to give away sodas, plus there are plenty of festival foods and crafts for purchase. No alcohol; state park rules apply. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 4. Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site, 23400 Park Road 12, Washington (between Brenham and Navasota). For information, call 936-878-2214 or visit wheretexasbecametexas.org. Admission is free, but fees apply to access Independence Hall, the Star of the Republic Museum and Barrington Living History Farm.
5th Annual Freedom for All Community March & Rally
Stand up for animal rights and learn about overpopulation in the East End at the 5th Annual Freedom for All Community March & Rally, presented by Barrio Dogs of Houston. The march begins and ends at Hidalgo Park, and Father Sal de George will be on hand to bless the animals. Enjoy free hot dogs and beverages and learn about the importance of spaying and neutering. 10 a.m. to noon July 4. Hidalgo Park, 7000 Avenue Q. For information visit barriodogs.com. Free.
Honoring Your Local Heroes — the 121st Annual Friendswood Fourth of July Celebration
Everybody loves a parade and this one, with more than 100 entries across Texas, looks to be a doozie. Setting off from Friendswood Drive at Heritage Drive, the parade ends at Stevenson Park, where participants will find rides, games, food and entertainment, courtesy of headliner the Decades. At 9:20 p.m., enjoy a fireworks display with synchronized patriotic music. 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. July 4. Stevenson Park, 1100 South Friendswood Drive (FM 518), Friendswood. For information, call 281-996-3220 or visit ci.friendswood.tx.us/July-4th-Celebration. $10 to $20.
What could be better than a parade? How about a confetti cannon! That's right, kids, the Children's Museum of Houston is throwing a 240th birthday party for the USA, beginning with a flag presentation by the Boy Scout Color Guard. Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty will be on hand, as well as the High Steppers Brass Band, and the flag-waving parade leads through Kidtropolis, USA out to the Allen Family Courtyard. Be sure to wear your red, white and blue! 1 p.m. July 4. Children's Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz. For information, call 713-522-1138 or visit cmhouston.org. Free to $12.
10th Annual July 4th Celebration at Bayou Bend
American history is alive and well at Bayou Bend, and this popular celebration includes a reading of the Declaration of Independence and birthday cake. After enjoying performers, crafts, activities and refreshments, be sure to sign the Declaration of Independence yourself. 1 to 5 p.m. July 4. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 6003 Memorial. For information, call 713-639-7750 or mfah.org/visit/bayou-bend-collection-and-gardens. Free.
Houston Astros: Military Appreciation Day presented by Whataburger
The Houston Astros look to continue their recent surge of winning baseball as they battle division rivals the Seattle Mariners, duking it out for second place in the American League West behind the Texas Rangers. Celebrate Military Appreciation Day presented by Whataburger on July 4 with patriotic tees for the first 10,000 fans, presented by Cutter. 1:10 p.m. July 4. Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford. For information, call 877-927-8767 or visit astros.com. $5 to $425.
US Family Health Plan Freedom Over Texas 2016
Don't let the name fool you. Houston's signature event (thank you, Mayor Turner) is back and bigger than ever, with country star (and former Hootie & the Blowfish lead singer) Darius Rucker. There's a ban on dogs, amphibians and reptiles (including snakes), but kids are allowed and will enjoy the children's entertainment area. There's a lot to see and do, including a beer garden, a look at professional sports teams, a salute to the military and — drum roll, please — fireworks from 9:35 to 9:52 p.m. How's that for precision? 4 to 10 p.m. July 4. Eleanor Tinsley Park, 500 Allen Parkway. For information, call 832-393-0868 or visit freedomovertexas.org. Free to $10.
Pasadena 4th Fest — Independence Day Celebration
This one is Pasadena's largest city-sponsored event, and it includes the amazing 4th Fest Car & Motorcycle Show at the Pasadena Fairgrounds, with an awards presentation at 5:30 p.m. Get your bad boy water tattoo in the 4th Fest Kidzone, check out the motorcycles and then chow down at the USMC Toys for Tots BBQ Cook-off. There's a 20-minute fireworks show near the end, but not before you hear Houston cover band The Slags live onstage. 4 to 10 p.m. July 4. Pasadena Convention Center & Fairgrounds, 7902 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena. For information, call 713-475-7048 or visit ci.pasadena.tx.us. Free.
Tomball July 4th Celebration & Street Party
What's being billed as the second-largest July 4 celebration in Harris County is going down in Tomball, with live music from Bayou Roux and the Bottle Rockers, a giant kids zone, food and beverages, and a fabulous fireworks display once the sun sets, or around 9 p.m. 5 to 10 p.m. Monday. Tomball, just north of FM 2920 at Four Corners, Business Highway 249, Tomball. For information, call 281-351-5484 or visit tomballtx.gov. Free.
Fulshear Freedom Festival
They say everything's better in the country and, for this year's celebration, the City of Fulshear and the Fulshear Area Chamber of Commerce have lined up The Spazmatics, plus a parade, children's activities, fireworks and much more. 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 4. Downtown Fulshear, 8100 FM 359 South, Fulshear. for information, call 832-600-3221 or visit fulshearareachamber.com. Free.
City of Sugar Land's 4th Annual Star Spangled Spectacular at Constellation Field
There are a limited number of tickets to this one, which will celebrate the Sugar Land Skeeters' last game at Constellation Field before they move to their new home near Sugar Land Memorial Park. Enjoy seven innings of some good, old-fashioned baseball, patriotic entertainment and activities, and a fireworks show. Sugar Land residents had first crack at the tickets, though any remaining tickets have been opened up to the general public. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. 6 to 10 p.m. July 4. Constellation Field, 1 Stadium Drive, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-275-2885 or visit sugarlandtx.gov. Free.
Missouri City's 4th of July Celebration
Patriotism is alive and well in Missouri City, with all kinds of fun including a rock wall, face-painting, moonwalks, rides and the finest food trucks in the area. The fireworks show starts at 9:15 p.m., and the organizers have arranged for stadium seating at Thurgood Marshall High School. 6 to 9 p.m. July 4. Buffalo Run Park, 1122 Buffalo Run Boulevard, Missouri City. For information, call 281-403-8500 or missouricitytx.gov. Free.
Memorial City Fourth of July Hot Air BalloonFest
This is the first event of this type at Memorial City, but we suspect it won't be the last. Witness a 25-foot hot air balloon rise above Memorial City Mall. Enjoy arts and crafts, food trucks and live music, and even take a ride in the balloon ($10 for adults and $5 for children under 12); a portion of the proceeds benefits Memorial Assistance Ministries. 6 to 9 p.m. July 4. Memorial City Mall (near Dillard's parking lot), 303 Memorial City Way. For information, visit memorialcity.com. Free admission.
Pearland July 4th Celebration of Freedom
Patriotism is in full force with a VFW military salute, a performance of the National Anthem and the rockin' sounds of The Slags. Stadium and field seating are available, but don't miss the yard games, children's area and craft vendors. At 9 p.m., enjoy the fireworks. 6 to 10 p.m. July 4. The Rig (Pearland High School Football Stadium), 3775 South Main, Pearland. For information, call 281-412-8900 or visit pearlandparks.com. Free.
Freedom Rings 2016 featuring Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra
After a Sunday of carnival rides and games, come back on Monday as the festivities continue in Stafford with a special concert at 7 p.m., courtesy of the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra. Hear traditional marches (John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever), classics ("Oh, Susannah") and film scores (Pink Panther). At 9 p.m., the fireworks show begins. 7 to 10 p.m. July 4. Stafford Centre, 10505 Cash, Stafford. For information, call 281-208-6900 or visit staffordcentre.com. Free.
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CityCentre July 4 Weekend Celebration
The four-day extravaganza goes out with a bang, beginning with the country and rock sounds of the People's Choice Band. Then, at 9:30 p.m., enjoy a fireworks spectacular. 7 to 11 p.m. July 4. CityCentre, 800 West Sam Houston Parkway North. For information, call 713-629-5200 or visit citycentrehouston.com/events/detail/july-four-fireworks-spectacular. Free.
ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights: A Star-Spangled Salute
For those who enjoy their Independence Day with a touch of culture, no celebration would be complete without hearing Tchaikovsky’s rousing 1812 Overture, complete with actual cannon blasts, courtesy of the Houston Symphony. 8:30 p.m. July 4. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 281-373-3386 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free.
Fourth of July Celebration
The Kemah Boardwalk has been celebrating with fireworks every Friday night since mid-June (continuing through July), and it all makes for a great patriotic evening on Monday, July 4. Enjoy live music and watch the pyrotechnics sparkle over Galveston Bay, then stay for late-night specials. Kemah Boardwalk, 2155 Kipp Avenue, Kemah. For information, call 877-285-3624 or visit kemahboardwalk.com. Free.
Bill Simpson contributed to this post.