Macy’s 4th of July fireworks show makes a triumphant return to the skies over in New York City in 2022. An annual unforgettable highlight of the summer, on July 4, 2022, the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks explode in the sky over the East River in Midtown Manhattan, with more than 48,000 shells lighting up the night sky.
Spectators should be able to see the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks from many neighborhoods in Midtown Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens. If you’re hoping to watch Macy’s 4th of July fireworks live, it’s never too early to start planning your viewing strategy. Looking for more free summer fireworks displays in NYC? Check out our roundup of where to see sparklers all season long here and bookmark our Guide to Summer Fun for NYC Kids for all our top summer picks.
Sign up for our FREE newsletters to get posts like this delivered to your inbox.
While you don’t need to spend a penny to see the sparklers, there are some important things to know before you go. We’ve got the scoop on how to find the best places to watch the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks in NYC, when to go, and what to bring.
What You Need to Know About Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks
The 46th annual Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display takes place over the East River with five barges centered in Midtown Manhattan. The show usually begins around 9:25pm and lasts approximately 25 minutes. In the event of rain, the start time could be delayed.
The Macy’s 4th of July fireworks celebration includes myriad pyrotechnic effects from Pyro Spectaculars by Souza. Among the highlights of the multi-colored spectacle are fireworks in 30 different colors and shapes, including brand new effects like mushrooms, snake shells, tri-color interlocking rings, and blinking, smiling faces. More than 1,900 shells and effects fly per minute. The planned highlight is Macy’s Golden Mile: Thousands of golden-hued shells illuminate the night sky, simultaneously creating a mile-long cascade of metallic splendor soaring more than 1,000 feet in the air.
If your little one isn’t a fan of fireworks in general, try to find a viewing spot that’s not in the middle of the action, with an easy exit plan in case you need it.
Of course, you need to claim your viewing spot long before sundown. Be prepared to stand or sit on the ground: The New York Police Department won’t allow you into viewing areas with backpacks, lawn chairs, or other large items, and it often searches bags.
If you’re not up for fighting for a great spot, you can always watch the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks live on NBC from your couch. Wherever you are, tune into 1010 WINS-AM radio to hear the synchronized soundtrack. This year is an ode to America’s music with a curated selection of genre-spanning tunes, plus patriotic classics like The Star-Spangled Banner, Born in the USA, and Lift Every Voice and Sing. My Country Tis of Thee and America the Beautiful accompany the Golden Mile finale.
Five barges line the East River for Macy’s 4th of July fireworks show.
Best Viewing Locations for Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks in NYC
This year, there will be five barges, with a viewing area concentrated around the East River in Midtown.
Macy’s promises the official viewing sites will be added to its website as the July 4th holiday approaches. Entry is controlled by the NYPD. In past years, authorized access points have been located at East 23rd Street, East 34th Street, and East 42nd Streets, with special needs/ADA access available at the 34th Street entrance.
Take note: It’s possible some or all of these viewing locations will close. Remember, the police have the power to shutter any street or green space at any moment! So if you attempt to watch from an unofficial site, be prepared for possible disappointment. And, wherever you go to see the fireworks, expect huge crowds, unless, of course, you have access to a private rooftop.
Because this information sometimes changes at the last minute, make sure you check the Macy’s website before heading out the door or call the store’s dedicated fireworks hotline at 212-494-4495. Many streets will also be closed to traffic, so whatever you do, don’t drive!
Paid Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Viewing Options
If you feel like splurging, consider hopping on a boat. We rounded up some of the most family-friendly 4th of July fireworks cruises sailing out of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and New Jersey. There are also a number of venues around the city that host viewing parties, but many are just for those ages 21-plus, so it’s only an option if you’re turning the holiday into a date night.
More Fun Things To Do on the Fourth of July in NYC
You can also take the kids to some pre-bedtime fun on the holiday, from Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island to an afternoon of old-fashioned Independence Day fun during Historic Richmond Town’s celebration. Check our NYC event calendar for more happenings in NYC on July 4, 2022.
A version of this post was published in 2018; it is updated annually.