Like the rest of our summer standbys, the Fourth of July looks different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Austin’s traditional fireworks show at Vic Mathias Shores and the accompanying concert from Austin Symphony, typically a draw for 100,000 people, were canceled June 12 out of concern about spreading COVID-19, the disease linked to the coronavirus. Celebrations in Round Rock and Bastrop also have been canceled this year.
In Georgetown, officials said they canceled their fireworks partly because they worried that residents from nearby cities where fireworks had already been called off would come to Georgetown and increase the risk of unsafe overcrowding at city parks.
As COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations have surged in the state, threatening to overwhelm health care capacity in the Austin area, Texas bars are again closed, gatherings of more than 100 people are locally banned and city and county park facilities are closed for the holiday weekend. In Austin, Barton Springs and Deep Eddy pools are closed until further notice.
Here are a few ways for Central Texans to celebrate Independence Day in a safer, socially distanced manner.
To enjoy cultural events this year, you’ll likely have to turn your eyes to a screen instead of a stage. Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic, a Texas tradition for decades, is taking the party online this year for a combined live stream and concert-film event. It kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday from luck.stream and williepicnic.com. Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 day of show, via the williepicnic.com website.
Fireworks in the area
Even though Austin’s annual fireworks show was called off, some surrounding cities are still planning to go ahead with their sparkling spectacles. Most listed below specifically ask for spectators to maintain social distance for safety. These shows are subject to change, so check websites for the most up-to-date details. All are on July 4 unless otherwise noted.
• Buda: After live music starting at 7 p.m., Doc’s Drive-in Theatre will shoot off fireworks between its screens at 9 p.m. That will be followed by a screening of "The Sandlot." (docsdriveintheatre.com)
The annual Red, White & Buda celebrations won’t include a morning parade but the city will put on two fireworks shows on Saturday: one at the Buda Sportsplex and one at City Park, both between 9:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
No parking will be available to view the fireworks at City Park and Buda Sportsplex, both of which will be closed to the public. Viewers can watch the fireworks from home or where they can practice social distancing, city officials say.
• Dripping Springs: The annual Fire in the Sky celebration is still planned, but spectators will not be allowed into Dripping Springs Sports and Recreation Park. Instead, they are encouraged to watch the 9:30 p.m. show in nearby parking lots from their cars. (facebook.com/events/2577458895904185)
• Kyle: Fireworks will be launched from Plum Creek Golf Course around 9 p.m. Viewers are asked to remain in or around their vehicles. KTSW 89.9 will play music to go with the show. (cityofkyle.com/recreation/independence-day-celebration-fireworks-show)
Parking on paved parking lots around the intersection of Kohler’s Crossing and Kyle Parkway are the safest locations for viewing, city officials say.
• Lakeway: UPDATE: This fireworks show has now been canceled. EARLIER: Fireworks will go off around 9:30 p.m. from "an elevated location in the Rough Hollow area." The city says it will be visible from several area points. (lakeway-tx.gov/718/July-4th-Celebration)
• Lago Vista: A fireworks show is set to begin around dusk. Viewing access to the Bar K Park is restricted. Alternate viewing areas include Vista Village Shopping Center and the end of the Lago Vista Golf Course's Driving Range, according to the city website. (lagovistatexas.org)
• Liberty Hill: The city canceled their Independence Day spectacular, but the fireworks show will still take place at 9:30 p.m. July 3, shooting from the grassy field in between the Intermediate and Junior High schools. Spectators will be able to see from their cars but cannot enter the field. (experiencelhtx.com/independence-day-spectacular)
• Pflugerville: The Pfirecracker Pfestival show at Typhoon Texas starts at 9:30 p.m. Spectators must stay in their vehicles. Alternate viewing spots are at Hendrickson High School, Stone Hill Town Center and Costco. (pfirecrackerpfestival.com)
• Round Rock: After a Granger Smith concert at 8 p.m. at the Dell Diamond, there will be fireworks at around 9:30 p.m. The Dell Diamond website contains safety and social distancing information, and ticket prices vary. (milb.com/round-rock/fans/granger-smith)
Fireworks are illegal to possess or use in Austin, Kyle, Georgetown, New Braunfels and in most cities in the Austin metro area unless a permit has been issued by local fire officials for professional display.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article contained information for the fireworks show in New Braunfels, which has now been postponed by the city.