Fireworks, picnic blankets, barbecues and more -- there's plenty of fun to be had for the whole family this Fourth of July weekend. Read on for our top picks for dazzling light displays and great, family-friendly celebrations being held throughout the Puget Sound this year (or see our full calendar). And most importantly -- we hope that your family has a safe and happy Fourth of July.
Family Fourth at Lake Union. After meeting its fundraising goal for 2011, the Family Fourth at Lake Union is truly one celebration that is "by the people and for the people." (And really -- what would a Seattle Fourth of July be without this classic celebration!) Taking place at Gas Works Park, the annual patriotic party offers a playfield with free activities until 8 p.m., including euro-bungee trampolines, climbing walls, kick ball, kite making, inflatables, and more. Food and beverages are available for purchase throughout the day, The Dusty 45s will be playing some family-friendly tunes and let's not forget the star of the show -- the fireworks display will begin at 10 p.m. and will be synchronized to a musical score with an encore to follow.
Free/ Gasworks Park / More info
Note: Starbucks will also be hosting a Lake Union cleanup party on July 5 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; morning pastries, snacks, lunch and beverages will be provided for volunteers. Learn more at starbucks.com/seattle.
Tukwila's Family 4th at the Fort. Head out with the family for a fun evening at Fort Dent Park's annual July 4th celebration. Beginning at 6 p.m. and ending with fireworks at 10 p.m., this festival offers kid-friendly activities such as inflatable bouncers and slides, a giant truck transformed into a game theater, along with a live performance from The Not-Its! at 6:30 p.m. Food and drinks will be served up by a variety of vendors, barbecues are allowed in designated areas and picnic dinners are always welcome.
Free / Fort Dent Park / More info
Fabulous Fourth of July. From noon-10 p.m., Renton's Fabulous Fourth of July celebration features free kids' activities in the KidZone throughout the day, live performances in a grass ampitheatre, food and beverages from local restaurants such as Ivar's and Kid Valley and a 20-minute firework display from a barge on Lake Washington that begins at 10 p.m.
Free / Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park / More info
Bellevue Family Fourth. Known for being the Eastside's largest Fourth of July celebration, Bellevue Family Fourth offers a family fun zone from 2-8:30 p.m. with storytellers, inflatables, interactive games and a climbing wall, along with picnic games from 3-4:40 including hula hooping, sack races and a bean bag toss. Food and beverages will be available throughout the day and the main stage will feature a variety of live music and performances. Fireworks begin at 10:05 p.m. and will be synchronized to music from the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra.
Free/ Bellevue Downtown Park / More info
Celebrate Kirkland! Check out the annual community parade at noon, where local businesses and neighborhoods compete based on different themes. And if your tots (and pets) want to take to the streets as well, be sure to enter them in the earlier kids' parade at 11:30 a.m., with face painting and hat and flag making beginning at 10 a.m. This patriotic fest also features a Rotary Duck Dash, food from local vendors and live music -- along with a fireworks show that begins at 10:15 p.m. in Marina Park.
Free/ Downtown Kirkland / More info
Fourth on the Plateau. Now in its fifth year of celebrating the Fourth, this festival begins at 6 p.m. and offers up a Kid Zone packed with games and activities for all ages, food and beverages from local vendors and live local bands, including the Pop Offs and Dance Factory. The fireworks display begins at 10:15 p.m
Free/ Commons Park / More info
Freedom Fair. Taking place from 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. along the Ruston Way promenade in downtown Tacoma, this year's Freedom Fair has plenty of fun for everyone: A custom car show, beach pole vaulting competitions, an afternoon airshow, paddle boat races, a remote control car race track and plenty of live music, local vendors and food booths. Fireworks begin at 10:10 p.m. and will be synchronized to a soundtrack broadcast on several of the main stages.
Suggested donations of $1-10/ Ruston Way promenade, downtown Tacoma / More info
Red, White & Blues Luau. Head out to Celebration Park for a full evening of family fun. Open to the public at 6 p.m., this year's Fourth of July luau will offer loads of kid-friendly activities and family games, a hot dog-eating contest, live bands (including a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band) and a fireworks finale at 10:15 p.m. that is professionally choreographed by Entertainment Fireworks, Inc.
Free / Celebration Park / More info
Artesian Family Festival & Thunder Valley Fireworks Show. Beginning with a "Heart of the Champion"-themed parade at 11 a.m. at Tumwater City Hall, this fun festival picks up again at 6 p.m. in the evening at the Tumwater Valley Golf Course. There will be food and beverages offered by local vendors, live music from local bands, skydivers and oodles of activities and games for kids. And last but not least, the show-stopping fireworks begin at 10:15 p.m.
Free/ Tumwater City Hall, Tumwater Valley Golf Course / More info
Colors of Freedom Festival. Jam-packed with a variety of family-friendly events, the Colors of Freedom Festival takes place from 1-11 p.m. at the Legion Memorial Park bluff that overlooks Port Gardner Bay. Besides a stunning fireworks display at 10:20 p.m., the festival will feature live music, a food fair, various kid-friendly activities and much more. And if you're interested in getting the party started a little earlier in the morning, be sure to check out the Colors of Freedom Parade (11 a.m.; downtown Everett) for giant puppets, marching bands, drill teams, stilt walkers and clowns. (Shuttles are available for both events from Everett Station.)
Free / Legion Memorial Park, Downtown Everett / More info
An Edmonds Kind of Fourth. Beginning at 10 a.m. with a fun run, the Edmonds Fourth of July festival includes a children's parade at 11 a.m. and a main parade at noon, a Firefighters Waterball Competition, kid-friendly activities and live entertainment. The fireworks begin at 10 p.m. -- though there's plenty of fun throughout the day.
Free / Downtown Edmonds / More info
Stanwood's Fourth of July Fireworks. Enjoy an ice cream social and a mini parade at 11 a.m. in the Josephine Sunset Home parking lot and come back in the evening at 8 p.m. for live entertainment and fireworks in Heritage Park. Lawn chairs and picnic dinners are welcome; fireworks begin between 10-10:30 p.m.
Free / Josephine Sunset Home, Heritage Park / More info