Denver After Dark: best fireworks shows
Here’s where to find the brightest, fieriest events on the Fourth of July.
Editor’s note: Throughout the summer, RED’s Denver After Dark series will look at fun nocturnal activities in and around the Mile High City.
Americans first celebrated Independence Day with a huge stash of fireworks way back in 1777 — and the tradition stuck.
But as cities and towns across the U.S. prepare to light up the skies, the best option for Denverites is to visit a professional fireworks display.
“It’s both a safer option and much more fun (than individuals shooting fireworks),” said Scott Heiss, an affiliate professor in Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Fire and Emergency Response Administration program. “These events are organized by certified professionals who must pass all kinds of rigorous safety tests — and they also really know how to put on a show.”
Although you might not guess by all the whiz-bang noises ringing across the city, almost all consumer fireworks are illegal in Colorado. The state permits only devices that are nonaerial and nonexplosive. And there are good reasons for that.
“Consumer fireworks are just a bad fit for Colorado,” said Heiss, “because they present an extreme fire danger in our dry, semi-arid climate.” Every year, he explained, most fire departments get inundated with calls due to errant fireworks that all too often destroy property and cause serious injuries.
Nobody needs that — so this Fourth of July weekend, check out one of these spectacular events instead.
Mile High Fireworks Guide
Colorado Rockies Post-Game Fireworks
July 1 (game time 6:10 p.m.) and July 2 (game time 7:10 p.m.)
Hands down, this is one of the best fireworks-related experiences in the state. On each evening, following a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, fans in the Rockpile and the left-field bleachers will be invited down onto the field. And from that vantage point, the incredible view of the setting sun is worth the price of admission alone. Once the action starts — beautifully framing the neon Rockies sign — you’ll be mesmerized.
Glendale Fireworks Celebration
Infinity Park Stadium
July 1, 6:30 p.m. (fireworks start at 9:15 p.m.)
Take a seat at one of the most established shows in metro Denver — an event so large that satellite events have cropped up just to gaze upon its fiery magic. You’ll arrive at the stadium to find a caravan of mouthwatering food trucks, plus an entertaining program of movie shorts on a jumbo screen. Then, you just need to decide whether to sit back in the stands or lie back on the field itself as the organized sky chaos begins.
July 3, 6 p.m. (fireworks start at 9:15 p.m.)
After a Covid hiatus, this great Mile High tradition is back. Join thousands of Denverites who’ll bring along blankets and goodies (but no alcohol, please), then park themselves on the lawn ready for an evening of sensory overload. Expect to be moved by the Colorado Symphony, wowed by the rainbow-colored light show on the City and County Building and then bowled over by a spectacular fireworks finale. In short: a perfect evening out.
Parker Stars and Stripes Celebration
Salisbury Park, Parker
July 4, 6 p.m. (show starts at 9:30 p.m.)
Fancy a different kind of Fourth of July experience? This family-focused event features all the usual attractions, except that it culminates with a 12-minute light show featuring 150 drones. Buzzing at 400 feet in the air, the shining mini-squadron will put on a choreographed display set to patriotic music. The whole thing is said to be visible from 2 miles away, but the best spot to gaze up in wonderment will be right there in the park.
4th of July Spectacular
Aurora Municipal Center
July 4, 6 p.m. (fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.)
Now in its 21st year, this veteran show gets all the basics right. Each year, thousands of happy spectators roll up to the Great Lawn, where there’s no shortage of viewing spots. Then, they follow their noses to a selection of food trucks and take in all kinds of fun activities for all ages. There are also ample boogie opportunities, thanks to an eclectic mix of live musical performances. And the big payoff is a fireworks finale that is widely recognized as one of the best displays in Colorado.
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Great American Picnic
Broomfield County Commons Park
July 4, 5 p.m. (fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.)
Sure, this event has all the usual staples you’d expect at a big fireworks party. There are food vendors and a beer garden for mom and dad, face-painting and inflatables for the kids and plenty of musical entertainment. But the real highlight (scoring a solid 10 on the cute-o-meter) is Broomfield’s annual Bicycle Parade, which brings out a cavalcade of local children on patriotically decorated bicycles, tricycles and scooters. Bonus: The fireworks are so good that more than 10,000 people come back for more every year.