A meteor shower including the Milky Way and a tree line of pine and spruce trees.

How To Celebrate July Fourth Without Fireworks

With fire bans and wildfire risk on the rise, consider swapping the Roman Candles for these eco-conscious Independence Day traditions.

Over the past few summers, the U.S. has seen record-breaking heat, extended droughts, and some of the most destructive wildfires in our nation’s history. The situation has been so touchy that many states and counties have instituted wholesale bans on open sources of ignition, including fireworks—just in time for the Fourth of July.

Even if fireworks are allowed in your area, there are other reasons to consider a change of tradition. That’s because fireworks don’t just produce showers of sparks. They also rain small bits of trash and toxic chemicals, which often end up in water sources that both people and wildlife rely on. Even smaller devices like sparklers and smoke bombs can release noxious chemicals and waste.   

Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to create a bright, celebratory atmosphere—and even a few explosions—without gunpowder or dangerous chemicals. Here are a seven options for how to celebrate our great nation outdoors, without burning it down.

Group of friends under lights having a celebration at the beach
  • String Up Some LED Lights
    LEDs create a chill vibe and provide a central focal point when it’s too muggy to build a fire. Plant a branch in the middle of camp and hang small bulbs to create a light tree, string fairy lights throughout camp, or set a few collapsible solar lanterns on a stump for a cozy campfire substitute.
  • Pop a Bottle of Champagne
    The Fourth might be an American holiday, but you can thank the French for the original celebratory explosion. Pop a bottle of bubbly at your next Fourth of July campout, then raise a toast. Always be careful when packing glass in or out of the backcountry; if you’re on the trail, consider a boxed or carbonated, canned alternative, maybe even Miller High Life (aka “the champagne of beer”).
  • Concoct the Perfect Playlist
    Looking for more of a laid-back Independence Day experience? Set out some portable Bluetooth speakers and ask your most musically inclined friend to build a playlist. You can also have each guest create and share their own party playlists. That way everyone’s guaranteed to hear some of their favorite tunes.  
  • Have a Super-Soaker Fight
    Sure, we all have nostalgic memories of shooting our siblings with Roman Candles as kids. But here’s a way better, way cooler alternative: Hit your friends with a blast from the biggest water gun you can find, instead. Better yet, hand out a few and declare war.
  • Watch an Asteroid Shower
    Still miss fireworks? Seek out the natural kind. Grab a hammock, some blankets, and a camp chair that leans way back, and lay out under the stars to watch meteors enter the atmosphere in a blaze of glory. The Perseids become visible starting in mid-July, and the alpha Capricornids shower peaks near the end of the month.
  • Fire a Biodegradable Confetti Cannons
    Eco-friendly party poppers provide all the fun of confetti but with hardly any cleanup. Available online, they’re essentially a handheld tube filled with bits of rice paper, a plant-based starch that dissolves in water. (Be sure to pack out the tubes.)
  • Play Some Live Music
    Nothing says party like a late-night jam sesh. If you’re car-camping, bring a guitar or fiddle (and your most musical friends). If you’re backpacking or hiking, consider more durable instruments like a plastic recorder, kazoo, penny whistle, or harmonica.  

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.