Navy Pier plans lots of fun but no fireworks on July 4th

Navy Pier is set to celebrate Independence Day this year with a full weekend of family-friendly programming and activities, including live music, dance performances and more as part of its nonprofit mission to provide the community with access to free arts and cultural programs.

However, the Pier will not host a fireworks show on Saturday, July 3 or Sunday, July 4 due to the previously unknown status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago this summer and its impact on the Pier’s ability to successfully plan for the large-scale celebration in advance.

Navy Pier, which annually serves as the go-to destination for Independence Day festivities in the Midwest, will forgo its signature 15-minute fireworks display for the second consecutive year due to limited preparation time and resources needed to accommodate the high volume of guests anticipated over the holiday weekend. Planning for this celebration would have needed to begin in March to procure necessary regional and federal security resources and develop a comprehensive plan to safeguard the wellbeing of the more than 100,000 guests who visit the Pier that day in anticipation of the only formal fireworks show in the city. Given the short lead time following the recent announcement of Illinois and Chicago’s respective Phase 5 reopening plans, the Pier was unable to begin preparations in time to ensure a successful celebration this year.

“Navy Pier is committed to delivering safe, quality experiences, and an event of this nature typically requires months of advanced planning, which we were not able to implement this year due to uncertain timelines related to COVID-19 cases and restrictions in Illinois and Chicago,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “As a result, we have made the difficult decision to forgo our Fourth of July fireworks tradition once again. However, we look forward to welcoming guests throughout the weekend for family-friendly festivities and other treasured Pier-wide experiences in dining, boating, shopping, free entertainment and more.” 

The Pier did not host a Fourth of July fireworks show in 2020 due to public health and safety concerns related to the ongoing pandemic at the time. However, last year’s celebration still saw thousands of guests enjoying free programming along the lakefront, in addition to authentic Chicago cuisine, lake and river cruises, and more. Additional Pier-wide experiences this year include the iconic Centennial Wheel, two new rides and other Pier Park attractions, which were not open last summer.

Also new this year, Sable at Navy Pier offers guests the unique opportunity to extend their visit with an overnight stay in the 223-room hotel, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with unparalleled views of the city and lake.

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Guests are also encouraged to stop by the Navy Pier Beer Garden and Wave Wall Platform for live tunes all weekend. The holiday lineup includes performances by popular local artists and bands, such as Fernando Jones & My Band!, Nathan Graham, OSTON, The Shades and Creedence Revived. The full schedule of events is outlined below.


2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.Live on the Lake!Fernando Jones & My Band!Navy Pier Beer Garden
3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.Wave Wall MovesMeadows Dance CollectiveWave Wall Platform
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.Wave Wall WaxDJ Duane PowellWave Wall Platform
5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.Live on the Lake!Nathan GrahamNavy Pier Beer Garden
9 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.Live on the Lake!Sixteen CandlesNavy Pier Beer Garden


1 p.m. – 2 p.m.Live on the Lake!OSTONNavy Pier Beer Garden
3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.Live on the Lake!The ShadesNavy Pier Beer Garden
6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.Live on the Lake!Creedence RevivedNavy Pier Beer Garden

As in years past, Navy Pier will enforce a heightened level of security measures across the Pier throughout the weekend, including its Youth Escort Policy, which mandates that guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. Guests may be asked to present a valid government-issued ID upon entering Navy Pier premises. Parents and/or legal guardians are responsible for the safety and conduct of minors within their party. In addition, large bags and backpacks are discouraged at the Pier; all bags are subject to inspection. Bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, skate shoes, coolers, outside alcohol, fireworks and weapons of any kind are strictly prohibited on the Pier. As always, guests are advised to remain vigilant of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity to Navy Pier security and/or the Chicago Police Department.

In the event that Navy Pier reaches its capacity limits, gates will close to the public and entry will not be permitted. Guests with tickets and/or reservations to on-site experiences are encouraged to arrive early. For important updates throughout the Fourth of July weekend, follow Navy Pier on Twitter at @NavyPier or visit the Navy Pier website.

Navy Pier will resume its ongoing Summer Fireworks series on Wednesday, July 7 and every Wednesday and Saturday thereafter through Labor Day weekend.

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