The Macy’s 4th July Fireworks displays are one of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring fireworks shows in the world. The Display takes place in the East River and is free to view as the City celebrates the Country’s birthday. However, with over 3 million people heading to the official viewing spots, it is crazy busy and to get a good spot you need to be there several hours before the display.
There are a few ways to avoid this chaos, which we look at in detail here, but one great option is a 4th of July Fireworks Party. These take place on New York’s many rooftop observation decks and bars and offer the chance to take in the stunning fireworks and really celebrate the big day. Here we take a look at the Best 4th Of July Fireworks Partys in New York. These are not particularly cheap, but offer a lot of extras to really help your day go with a bang!
Macy’s 4th July Fireworks
The Macy’s 4th July fireworks that light up the City’s Skyline every 4th of July are one of the largest and most impressive displays in the world, easily rivaling the biggest and best New Year’s Eve Displays. Launched from 5 separate barges in the East River the Display, is set to music and last for almost 30mins. It really is staggering.
However, it can be such a pain to get a good spot in one of the many free viewing areas and to get a good sport you need to be there 4-5 hours before the display with people arriving at 9 am to stake out their front row locations. That is a long time to wait, especially in New York’s scorching summer weather!
Full Guide to Macy’s 4th July Fireworks Display here
Why Choose a Rooftop Fireworks Party?
One way to avoid the hassle of a long wait in the sun, guaranteeing a great view, and making the whole spectacle a bit more civilized is to visit one of the many Rooftop Viewing parties. These Pay-To-Enter events are held on one of New York’s many Observation Decks.
They are pretty pricey and fairly exclusive but if you can get a ticket you are in for a fantastic time. The views are varied, and we have tried to describe them below, but you will have access to the deck for an extended period of time and normally access to a bar (Open or Cash) and light snacks.
This is certainly not the cheapest way to see the free fireworks show, but it’s a lot of fun and far more civilized than sitting on a wooden dock with 3 million people in the burning sun waiting for the display.
- Location: Hudson Yards
- Hours: Entry -7-8 pm – til Midnight
- Cost: $250
- Inclusions: 2 Glasses of Champagne, a Gourmet Hotdog, and Unlimited Popcorn.
The Edge is one of New York’s newer observation decks and offers a really broad view of the City. Sitting on the banks of the Hudson, the Deck is pretty far from the Fireworks, but this does provide a fantastic panoramic view of the fireworks bursting over the New York Skyscrapers. You are not getting an uninterrupted view and you will mainly see the larger bursts erupting over the tall buildings that will partially block the view. It’s still pretty spectacular though.
There are several viewing options from the Edge. Their main deck is outdoors and offers some amazing views. There are also some great indoor areas, where if the weather is not perfect you can at least get out of the rain, or just spend some time inside with the air conditioning if the weather is scorching.
The Edge offers two glasses of champagne with their along with a Corndog, and lots of popcorn. Their Champagne bar is still open as a cash bar if you want more drinks. You will only have a couple of hours to wait until the 9:30 fireworks so you can just enjoy the stunning views, and the gorgeous sunset and then be dazzled by the distant displays.
If you are looking for something REALLY memorable, the Climb is the Edge’s Building Climb experience, here you take a rickety staircase right to the very summit of the building where you perch on an open ledge perilously close to the abyss. Fortunately, you are roped up at all times and perfectly safe. This experience is also open to 8 very lucky people who can experience the Climb during the 4th July Fireworks. This is possibly one of the most stunning vantage points imaginable and a very very special experience for those that can afford and stomach it!
2023 – Coming Soon (tickets were released June 17th in 2022)
- Location: One Vanderbilt Building
- Hours: 7 pm-midnight
- Cost: $300
- Inclusions: Open Bar – Access to all Decks (Food to Purchase)
The Summits 4th July viewing party is a really special event offering some of the best views of the fireworks out there. As the Sumit is much closer to the East River than any other deck it offers some of the best fireworks viewing in the City. There is a downside, that the best views from the Summit do not look out over the river. Most people visiting the Summit have not come to see views out over Long Island, they want the stunning views out over midtown and downtown Manhattan, and the deck has been designed to give you those views.
This however means the view looking out over the East River is less accessible. We don’t want to be too much of a downer on this, you are still getting some of the best views anywhere of the fireworks, but it’s just not quite as perfect as if the deck had been facing the other way, you are kind of looking sideways on the fireworks rather than head-on. There are a few spots that do look out over the show directly, but it’s fair to say these will be popular.
The Summit is a multi-level observation deck that does offer 360° views of sorts. The experience is usually one-way, so once you have passed a section you are not allowed back, but as visitors to the party will be staying in the attraction for quite some time. You can move freely around all decks. This is especially useful as the open bar is on the top deck.
We love the open bar concept and think this works far better than just a couple of free drinks on a $300+ entry ticket. And really love having access to all the decks and the ability to just wander around and explore the Summit rather than the usual one-way trip. It’s a little disappointing not to have food, but they have countered this by having some REALLY good catering offering food to purchase from Blue Smoke BBQ.
Overall this is a really enticing offering. The view is just the best out there and the open bar is a real highlight. There is so much to see and do at the summit it’s great to have pen access for once. Overall this might just be the TOP party in the City on the 4th of July.
SUMMIT 2023 – Coming Soon (tickets were released June 21st in 2022)
Top Of The Rock – Awaiting Confirmation
- Location: Rockefeller Center
- Hours: None
- Cost: $
The Top Of the Rck boasts an enviable position and has great fireworks opportunities, but they have not hosted viewing parties in the last couple of years. We are hoping they return in 2023.
2023 – Coming Soon
Empire State Building – $500
- Location: 34th and 5th Avenue
- Hours: 7:30-9:30 (guests can remain after the Fireworks Display)
- Cost: $500
- Inclusions: Open Bar(2 hours), hors d’oeuvres from STATE Grill and Bar, Live DJ music performance, Simulcast of Display Music
The Empire State Building is a little further from the display than the Summit, but due to certain quirks of the city’s layout, and the full panoramic nature of the building, you actually get better views. Basically, there are fewer buildings in the way and one side of the building faces in the perfect direction. The 86th floor is also outdoors so you are not constrained by windows, a particular bug bare of ours, but there is the annoying fencing around the Deck, which is an eyesore to some.
There is a premium Open Bar and some fantastic hors d’oeuvres from STATE Grill and Bar, with an independence day theme. There is musical entertainment, which adds to the atmosphere, and the Accompanying music from the display is simulcast onto the deck.
Overall it’s a fantastic event, with limited numbers and everything you could desire. The big issue is the cost. $500 is a big ticket price, but the party is the Rolls-Royce standard.
2023 – Coming Soon
One World Observatory – $350
- Location: One World Trade Center
- Hours: 8 pm – 11 pm
- Cost: $350
- Inclusions: Open Bar, Food Carts, Summertime Treats.
The One World Observatory’s view is a little mixed. The Immense height of the tower means you are getting fantastic near-perfect views of the display. The downside is, you really are pretty far away. As you can see in the above photo, the area of the river visible in the top right, is exactly the part of the river the barge’s let off the fireworks, so you are going to get a really fantastic show, it’s just from afar.
You will really appreciate the scale of the display from this vantage point, but overall fireworks are better viewed up close, preferably close enough to feel the bursts. With the Glass windows and distant vantage point, the One World Observatory feels a little like watching them on tv.
Apart from this, it is a really good party. With an excellent Open bar and lots of food options. The deck is a really nice place to spend a few hours enjoying drinks and summertime foods. The bar closes at 11 pm, but the deck stays open a little longer so you can linger and take in the stunning views.
2023 – Coming Soon (tickets released June 16th in 2022)
The best viewing points are from the super tall observation decks, but most bars and venues will have some kind of party on, often as a ticketed event. Most of these will offer no view at all and is simply a weekend booze party, but some offer limited views of the display and these are the ones we focus on.
- Location: 230 Fifth Avenue
- Hours: 2 Pm – 3 Am
- Cost: $Various
- Inclusions: Entry Only
Not only is 230 Fifth one of our favorite Bars in NYC, but they also have one of the best Independence Day parties too. The Fireworks Viewing is only moderate. The Rooftop is not quite high enough to get unimpeded views, but the higher bursts rise over the surrounding buildings. The orientation is not ideal either as the display is off to the east of the building and this is the narrowest part of the deck.
You are still close enough to properly feel the booms of the airbursts and it’s a pretty impressive display, it’s just not an unobstructed view. It’s also pretty busy and prices are not cheap for a party that does not have any included drinks or food.
However, the purpose of this party is more for those who really just want to celebrate the Holiday in style. This is a Big Lively Booze up with top Entertainment, great drinks, and stunning views of the City. It’s one of our favorite bars in the City and on big occasions such as this, it really goes off. In 2022 Pitbull DJ’d the event so this should give you the kind of level this Party is at.
2023 – Coming Soon (tickets released May 6th in 2022)
- Location: Moxy Time Square
A pretty average option for Fireworks viewing and even that is probably overselling it. But it’s a nice place to spend the evening and with the roof open, you are going to catch glimpses of the barrage happening down by the river.
Awaiting more Details…
Things to Consider
These parties are great fun, but they are not cheap and they are not official so there are a few issues you need to consider.
On the whole, the weather isn’t a huge issue with these parties. There are usually inside and outside areas so whatever the gods have provided for the day, you should be fine up in your ivory tower. The one big exception would be a low cloud!
Most years, the 4th is blessed with blue skies and soaring temps. This a big problem for those queueing hours on the ground. But with Air-conditioned indoor spaces and late arrivals, the Observation Decks provide a much better solution.
If however, low cloud is forcest the Decks can actually be so high you are in the clouds and have zero visibility. The display is not going to look too great in that case and as Firework Viewing is not actually guaranteed there will be little redress. It is very unlikely, but it could happen and you would be stuck with no view and just the value-added extras. An expensive way to get drunk in a cloud.
Again, with poor visibility in the area, the more distant deck could provide a pretty poor experience. The closer you are the less likely to be affected by poor vis you will be.
We have done our best to point these out in the descriptions but the decks do not give clear and unobstructed views f the display. The Shells fire really high and from all the deck you will see the bursts rising high over the skyline, but you are not going to get the full display like you would from ground level.
Music and Sound
The Display is set to Music and apart from the Empire State Building (which pipes the music in), you are not going to hear this from the top of a City Skyscraper. To be honest, you don’t lose much, but it’s a consideration.
Also one of the joys of large Fireworks is the noise. Some of the Macy’s shells are huge, and at ground level, you feel them thump through your chest. From a distance, they are still impressive, but it’s not the same and the noise of the bursts will not tally up to the visual due to the laggy speed of sound!
The more remote location can feel a little like watching on TV
Crowds and Premium Viewing Spots
These tickets are sold as if you are going to have a private viewing deck, but in reality, they sell quite a few tickets. The decks will be crowded and near the time there will a lot of competition for the best spots.
Some people will arrive early and stake out the best spots so unless you are ready and waiting when the gates open you may be left with what you can get. It can be very frustrating to have a lot of people in front of you or just not be able to get a really good direct view when you have spent so much money.
Have Your Say
Have you attended a 4th July Rooftop Fireworks Party? Let us know how you found it in the comments below. How was the view? What was included in your package? How busy was the event? Did you think it was worth the entry fee? Whatever your thoughts just fire away in the comments below and let us know how it went. If you have any questions or think you know a great party we missed just let us know in the comments as well.