Pig roasts, improv marathons, Revolutionary War tours and urban foraging. There's no shortage of things to do in the city this Independence Day weekend. Here's our shortlist of happenings around NYC.
For the Athletic
The July 4th Marathon This weekend, strap on some red, white and blue laces and take to the trails of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for the first annual July 4th Marathon. Unlike its 26.2-mile counterparts, this race is free and open to all, although prospective runners are encouraged to sign up and give a $10 donation to cover race expenses. And if (really) long distances aren’t your stride, the event also features a marathon relay, a half-marathon, and a 10K race. Complete with patriotic prizes and scenic surroundings, this event is one for the record books. Race begins at 9 A.M. on Monday at the main parade grounds of Van Cortlandt Park. In the Bronx.
For the Audiophile
Independence Fest With over ten bands on deck to play, this all-day music festival will tune you up perfectly for Independence Day. Featured performers include soulful rock/reggae band Paul Josephs and the Metro Sonics, the bilingual rock group New Madrid, the Boston-based rock/indie pop band Jet Black Sunrise and the acoustic rock singer/songwriter Alex Miller. Doors open on Saturday at 1 P.M. at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn and the festival runs till 1 A.M., with tickets selling for $8 in advance and $12 at the door. The event is open to all ages -- in fact, some of the bands feature teenagers -- and attendees can leave and return to the venue at their leisure (with a full schedule like this, a snack break or two seems inevitable). In Brooklyn.
Absolute NYC's Independence Ball Ring in Independence Day with what Absolute NYC calls a “Goth Extravaganza.” The Cleveland-based band Lestat will join the D.C. band Ego Likeness, the electronic goth rock group The Spiderlillies and the electro industrial New York Band Jōb to play music live, while DJs Jason of Alchemy and Xtine of Shadowlands crank out goth, death rock, synth, and new wave tunes. General admission is $13 per person ($10 with a flyer or print-out) and is limited to those 21 years of age and older. Doors open on Sunday at 10 P.M. at The Fortune Cookie Lounge. In Manhattan.
For the Cinephile
Easy Rider in Bryant Park Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) have America on their minds, so what better way to spend a day all about America than by joining them in their jaunt across the U.S. of A. in the iconic 1960s film “Easy Rider.” The film, which is the Fourth of July installation of the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, captures a changing American landscape -- highways, drugs, and rock music -- in the era of free love. The lawn opens at 5 P.M. and the film will begin between 8 and 9 P.M. on Monday. Attendees to this free event are encouraged to bring blankets and snacks. In Manhattan.
For the Foodie and the Competitive Eater
Annual Pig Roast BBQ Block Party Nothing says Fourth of July quite like a good, old-fashioned barbecue, and the folks over at The Iron Horse NYC are serving up just that. This year they’re bringing back their Pig Roast BBQ Block Party, which will feature free fare of burgers, hot dogs and, of course, roasted pig. Diners are also welcome to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project. The grills will be going from 12 to 9 P.M. on Monday on Cliff St. in the financial district. In Manhattan.
Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest A classic American eat, the hot dog is sure to make its way onto plenty of plates this Independence Day. But few can claim such a feat as feasting on nearly 70 of these bun-hugged eats in one sitting, much less doing so in 10 minutes. Since 1916, Nathan’s has challenged eaters everywhere to chew out the competition in its International Hot Dog Eating Contest. This year’s contestants -- all of whom have qualified for this final food fight -- hail from across the country and, for the first time, from China. Also for the first time, female eaters will compete in their own round for a $20,000 prize, a belt and the glory of a full belly. Reigning champion Joey Chestnut is seeking his fifth consecutive title -- he holds the world record at 68 hot dogs consumed in 10 minutes. Celebrity Nick Cannon will be giving out hot dogs courtesy of event sponsor Pepto Bismol, and attendees can enjoy other giveaways, a jumbo-tron view of the competition and the company of thousands of other competitive eating enthusiasts. The competition commences at 12 P.M. on Monday on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Ave. at Coney Island and will be broadcast live on ESPN. In Brooklyn.
For History Buffs and Early Birds
9th Annual Nighttime Walking Tour of Revolutionary War New York Enjoy Independence Day early-bird style with a hearty dose of Revolutionary War history. Veteran walking tour guide James S. Kaplan will lead the way for this early morning event, sharing New York-specific tales of the Revolutionary War (and sights of a summer sunrise from Trinity Church). Tickets, which must be bought in advance, are $20 for the general public and $15 for members of the Fraunces Tavern Museum. Make sure to charge your camera and set your alarm, because this four-hour tour takes off at 2 A.M. (yes, A.M.) on Monday. In Manhattan.
Declaration of Independence OutLOUD: South/North Shores We may hold its truths to be self-evident, but it’s not every day that we read the Declaration of Independence out loud. This weekend, Staten Island OutLOUD is conducting two free, outdoor readings of this all-important document. History hounds of all ages will revel in the richness of the Declaration’s liberating lines. Readings begin at 3 P.M. on Saturday at Staten Island’s South and Sunday at Staten Island’s North Shores. Attendees are strongly encouraged to bring lawn chairs. In Staten Island.
For the Indecisive
Red Hook Ramblers Celebrate Independence Day with Live Music for Summer-Themed Silent Films by Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and Harold Lloyd If you can’t pick between comedy and cinema, sound and silence, you no longer have to settle (at least not this weekend) for just one. On Sunday, the Jalopy Theater & School of Music is hosting a screening of three summer-themed silent movies overlaid with the live, original scores of Brooklyn-based jazz ensemble The Red Hook Ramblers. Laugh out loud at Charlie Chaplin’s “A Day’s Pleasure” (1919), Fatty Arbuckle’s “Coney Island” (1917) and Harold Lloyd’s “A Jazzed Honeymoon” (1919). The evening begins at 8 P.M. on Sunday and tickets are available for $10 each. In Brooklyn.
For the Lover of Slapstick
The First Annual Indie-Pendance Day There are marathons and there are marathons. Student Driver, the host of Indie Road, is hosting its first annual indie improv marathon at the People’s Improv Theater called Indie-Pendance Day, in which anyone paying $20 for a festival pass can exercise his or her right to laugh for 12 hours straight. (That price also includes two free drinks.) Tickets for individual shows are available at the door for $5 each. Doors open at 12 P.M. on Sunday. In Manhattan.
For the Old-Fashioned
The Liberty Belle Spectacular Leave your blue jeans behind for this vintage Fourth of July rooftop extravaganza. Presented by Dances of Vice, The Salon, Wit’s End and Champagne Riot, this evening of burlesque, blues and more is taking you back to the America of the 1920s to 1950s. Live performances by the vaudeville duo Gelber & Manning and the Star Spangled Orchestra, Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co., and Hawaiian steel guitar swing group The Moonlighters will keep partygoers going on the East and West Terraces of The Empire Hotel Rooftop. Doors open on Monday at 5 P.M., and tickets are either $20 in advance (with reserved admission times) or $25 at the door. This event is restricted to the over 21 set. In Manhattan.
For the Patriotic
The 35th Annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks The Macy’s fireworks extravaganza has become a fixture for Fourth of July revelers. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the atmospheric attraction and the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, which will be honored during the show. The fireworks fugue, which can be viewed both along the West Side of Manhattan and on television, will be accompanied by a 25-minute synchronized music score featuring patriotic and pop tunes. This stellar show hits the skyline at approximately 9:20 P.M., at which time Nick Lachey will host a live broadcast on NBC, complete with performances by Beyoncé and Brad Paisley. In Manhattan (or anywhere the television is on!)
Independence Day Celebration St. Paul’s Church is taking on the Fourth of July in traditional style, complete with music, speeches, refreshments and more. The historical implications of this Independence Day celebration will be amplified by the bells of St. Paul’s, which is a national historic site itself. If a single day of revolutionary reveling simply is not enough, St. Paul’s is also offering a long line-up of activities this summer -- from demonstrations to reenactments to discussions -- that celebrate America’s past. Festivities begin on Monday at 10:30 A.M. In Mount Vernon, New York.
Forest Park Foraging Channel your inner hunter-gatherer this Fourth of July with naturalist Steve “Wildman” Brill and a tour through Forest Park in Kew Gardens. Participants will hunt for black raspberries, day lily flowers, and other herbs and vegetables in the woodlands, thickets and cultivated area of the park. This four-hour flora find will take off on Monday at 11:45 A.M. from the stone wall at Union Turnpike and Park Lane. Reservations must be made within 24 hours of the tour by calling (914) 835-2153. Suggested donations are $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12 years of age. Don’t forget to read packing and other guidelines before signing up. In Queens.
For the Whole Family
July 4th Weekend at Prospect Park Prospect Park has put together a host of patriotic activities for the whole family to enjoy this Independence Day. From “Eagle as Icon” to “Declare Independence,” kids can learn about their country’s past and and celebrate its independence through interactive crafts and story-telling. Participants in the “Freedom Strut” will also learn about another watershed moment in United States history, that of the abolition of slavery in New York State. All three events are free. Check the park's Web site to get times and schedules. In Brooklyn.