My favorite way to celebrate our great nation's birthday is to draw my name in the air with a sparkler and go to bed really early, but I understand that others might be more inclined to party like it's 1776. If you're in the latter camp, don't worry: The Triangle has more than a few options for your beer-drinking, flag-waving pleasure.
For fireworks, check out The 'Works in Raleigh, a free, all-day celebration along Fayetteville Street and at the Red Hat Amphitheater that starts at noon, features music, eating contests and children's activities, and culminates with a fireworks display above the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. In Cary, Koka Booth Amphitheatre serves up the N.C. Symphony's free outdoor concert of patriotic favorites that begins at 7:30 p.m. and ends in fireworks. In Durham, DBAP presents an Independence Day Fireworks Extravaganza following the Durham Bulls' 6 p.m. game against the Norfolk Tides; the gates are open to the public after the seventh inning. Up the block at Diamond View Park, The Art of Cool Project presents a free concert from 5–8 p.m. with The Beast+Big Band and Apple Juice Kid. And in Chapel Hill, there's a 9:30 p.m. fireworks display at UNC's Kenan Stadium; gates open at 7 p.m., with music and activities before the show.
Daytime events include the 34th annual Festival for the Eno from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with live music, local arts and crafts and more. (The festival continues on Saturday.) Downtown Apex hosts a carnival spectacular at the Apex Olde-Fashioned Fourth of July, beginning at 9 a.m. and ending with a firehouse splash down. And the Carrboro July 4th Celebration begins on the Weaver Street Market lawn at 9:30 a.m. and ends with face painters, food and live music on the Town Hall Commons.
Then again, you could always just take it easy with a cold beer and some burgers on the grill. That, after all, is the American way. —Emma D. Miller