Let freedom ring, so they say. Don't let this Independence Day morph the land of the free into the land of the couch potatoes. The city at large has many parties, gatherings and celebrations to make your head spin for this midweek Fourth of July.
So whether you are looking for a good old fashion county fair with hot dogs and funnel cakes, a rocking country music concert, a patriotic parade, a beach bash, smashing fireworks or an artsy day, we've amassed what's going on around town for your planning convenience. All you have to do is decided where you want to be and with whom.
For history buffs: Fourth of July at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
Some may say decorative arts isn't for everyone — though I don't believe that for a second. But an Americana-themed festival engulfed by the stunning formal gardens at Bayou Bend certainly is. Music, performers, costumed reenactors reliving 1776 alongside arts and crafts — like making your own flag, painting with watercolors, signing a giant Declaration of Independence and a hidden flag scavenger hunt — summon life as it was when Betsy Ross was around and the Revolutionary War raged.
The gardens' canopy offer plenty of shade, but if it gets too hot, partake in a tour of Ima Hogg's former residence.
Houston tradition: Freedom Over Texas at Eleanor Tinsley Park
Mayor Annise Parker's official fete is also the largest in the city, bringing in more than 120,000 patriots last year. There's lots to do and see in the many zones setup around Eleanor Tinsley Park, including the Bud Light Texas Volleyball Championship Series Finals. Test your agility and strength in fun interactive games and check out some of the armored vehicles and M-60 tanks.
Of course, many will flock to Freedom Over Texas to hear the headliners — country heartthrob Billy Currington (yeah, he's hot) and babe Sara Evans.
Admission is $8. Before midnight Tuesday, Reliant customers can claim two free tickets, and non-customers can get 50 percent off admission.
For Foodies: Burgers, Bourbon & Brew Bus Crawl
Leave the driving to The Wave, a jitney shuttle service that's not quite a bus, not as fancy as a limo but much lovelier than a cab. The first stop is Branch Water Tavern for executive chef David Grossman's burger of repute, prepared with Akaushi beef, white cheddar and bacon, accompanied by a specialty cocktail mixed with Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co.'s hibiscus-infused summer brew — it's pink.
Travel to the brewery for a behind-the-scenes tour, followed by a fireworks viewing party on the lot of The Wave, with food truck Fusion Tacos, a DJ and cash bar — party safe.
Two local institutions: Houston Symphony's ExxonMobil Star-Spangled Salute at Miller Outdoor Theatre
A musical soiree courtesy of two Houston institutions, the almost 100-year-old Houston Symphony Orchestra performs with Simon & Garfunkel tribute artists Jonathan Beedle and AJ Swearingen at the city's favorite al fresco amphitheater, Miller Outdoor Theatre. Stay to the end for Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, booming cannons included, and a fierce fireworks display.
Nature fest: Red, White and Bluefest over Oyster Creek Park in Sugar Land
Stuff your face with BBQ sandwiches, sausage on sticks, hot dogs, nachos, cotton candy, pickles, sugary funnel cakes and snow cones (for purchase) complemented by music on two stages, including 1980s tunes from Thunderpants and country band Rhythm of the Road. Performances by Anjali Indian Cultural Dance, an African tribal group, Tropical Rhythms Tahitian Dance and a Chinese traditional Lion Dance troupe, and a fireworks display round out the outdoor party.
Family affair: Red Hot & Blue Festival at Waterway Square and Town Green Park in The Woodlands
The family-friendly festivities begin at 9 a.m. with a parade along Market Street. Cool off with Splash Day at all the pools in The Woodlands from noon to 4 p.m., and catch the "Things That Go" bike parade at 5:30 p.m. at Northshore Park. At 6 p.m., two entertainment stages at Town Green Park and Waterway Square usher in performances by The Fondue Monks, The Fab 5, Coldshot and Soulshine, with a hotdog and watermelon eating contest in between.
Fireworks will light up the skies at approximately 9:25 p.m.
For those with deeper pockets, Landry's is offering a four-course dinner cruise for $85.99 per person.
Indoor fun: Fort Bend Symphony presents "Freedom Rings" and Fireworks at Stafford Centre
Maybe an outdoor event isn't your cup of tea — or mug o' beer. Try a pops-style concert as the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra intones Sousa favorites, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, Armed Forces Salute, You're a Grand Old Flag and God Bless the USA. The City of Stafford will host fireworks behind the Stafford Centre following the musicale.
Get out of town: Galveston Independence Day Parade & Fireworks
Floats, decorated military vehicles and performers will sashay down Seawall Boulevard between 28th and 45th Streets. A 20-minute beachfront fireworks display begins at 9:15 p.m. If you are in the area, Kemah Boardwalk's Star-Spangled Sky Fireworks Celebration and the Spirit of Volunteerism's Independence Day Parade are also worth a look.
Street party: Tomball's July 4th Celebration
Live music, food and activities for the whole family will close off a segment of Highway 249 Business, north of FM 2920. The Bottle Rockers will perform at 5:30 p.m., The Posse at 7:30 p.m. Water games, a bounce house, pony rides, petting zoo, face painting, hay rides — what more do you want? Right, a fireworks display at 9:15 p.m.
Stadium bash: Pearland Celebration of Freedom at Pearland High School Football Stadium
A Texas-sized carnival, this family-friendly gathering includes face painting, inflatables, jugglers and strolling magicians. Drywater will cover Top 40, R&B and country music, and the evening culminates with a 20-minute pyrotechnics show.
By the dawn's early light: Friendswood Fourth of July Celebration "Sounds of Freedom"
It's an all day thing, kind of, that gets underway early. Kicking off the celebration at 10 a.m. is the Grand Parade, starting on the corner of FM 518 and Heritage Drive. More than 50 booths, rides, games, food and live entertainment will invade Stevenson Park until 3:30 p.m. New games include a rock wall, bungee trampoline, water slide, obstacle course, a moon walk and a dunk tank.
Take a break until the evening. Then, park at Clear Brook High School and take the shuttle to Centennial park to hear The Big Time Band at 7:30 p.m. Fireworks blow up at 9:20 p.m.
More events around town
Here are more to consider: The 23rd Annual Katy Freedom Celebration, LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch's BIG Backyard Barbecue, CityCentre's Fourth of July Music & Fireworks, Towne Lake's 4th of July Celebration, Kingwood's July 4th Festival and Fireworks, Missouri City's festival, Rosenberg's Family Fourth Celebration, Seabrook's July 4th Kids Parade and Webster's Fourth of July Celebration.