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Chicago July 4th Weekend: Fireworks, Arm Wrestling, Rooftop Bash and More (7/1-7/4)

07/01/2011 03:50 pm ET | Updated Aug 28, 2011

Budget cutbacks have led to the cancellation of Chicago’s city-run fireworks shows this year, including those at the Taste of Chicago. It's disappointing, but when you consider that our city is saving some major bucks and there are plenty of other ways to get your party on around the city this weekend, it’s not so bad. Here’s this year’s guide to where to find the best fireworks and 4th of July bashes.

Friday

Wrigleyville Block Party
Those looking for a good party this weekend should stop by the Wrigleyville Block Party. In addition to some sweet cover bands, tasty food options and plenty of beer to go around, visitors to this street fest can play video games, climb in a photo booth or catch baseball action on a few flat-screen TVs.
Where: On Clark St. between Addison and Waveland
When: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Fri-Sun
Price: FREE

Country and Americana Music Day at the Taste
Country music fans shouldn’t miss the Taste of Chicago this Friday when the fest features a great variety of country shows. Headliners include Loretta Lynn, who goes on at 5 p.m., followed by Court Yard Hounds, a band which features Dixie Chicks Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson.
Where: Grant Park at Michigan Ave. and Congress Dr.; 312-744-3315
When: 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Friday
Price: FREE

Movie in the Park: “Inception”
Figure out whether you’re awake or just dreaming at a free screening of “Inception” through the Chicago Park District’s Movies in the Park Program. Show up at Margate Park around 8 or 8:30 to get good seats for the show, which starts at dusk.
Where: 4921 N. Marine Dr.; 312-742-7522
When: Friday at dusk (around 8:45 or 9 p.m.)
Price: FREE

Go Figure at Smart Museum
Just because it’s a weekend typically reserved for booze, brats and fireworks doesn’t mean you can’t sneak in a little culture. Check out “Go Figure,” the latest exhibit at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum opening this Thursday. Featuring studies of the human form through artwork from Nick Cave, Martin Ramirez, Clare Rojas, Leon Golub, Sylvia Sleigh and more, this exhibit is sure to be captivating.
Where: 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.; 773-702-0200
When: Debuts June 30; Museum open Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sat. – Sun. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Price: FREE

Saturday

Navy Pier Fireworks
For a stellar fireworks show right in the heart of the city, head to Navy Pier on the 4th. The show starts at 9 p.m., but you’ll want to get there plenty early to get a good view. Another option is coming on the night of Saturday, July 2 for the weekend’s first show. Either way, expect large crowds and have a backup plan in case the Pier is full when you get there.
Where: 600 E. Grand Ave.; 312-595-7437
When: 10:15 p.m. Saturday, 9 p.m. Monday
Price: FREE

Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers
If you want to watch some ladies kick some ass this weekend, get your tix to the Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers big “Red, White and Bruised” bout at Joe’s Bar. The bout will feature 17 wrestlers who will compete for the sash and the crown, with plenty of theatrics, costumes and sweat along the way.
Where: 940 W. Weed St.; 773-809-4782
When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Price: $25 per person

Sunday

EPIC Sky’s July 3rd Bash
Celebrate the holiday in style at the rooftop lounge at EPIC. Stop by for a special grill menu featuring brats, burgers, chicken and tasty traditional sides. Additionally, John Daly cocktails will be on special for just $5 each.
When: 3 – 11 p.m. Sunday
Where: 112 W. Hubbard St.; 312-222-4940

Monday

Fireworks Dinner Cruise
If you don’t want to mess with the crowds on Navy Pier, book a dinner cruise for the 4th on Spirit Cruises. In addition to some of the best views of the fireworks, you’ll also get a buffet dinner and get to groove on the dance floor.
Where: Leaves from Navy Pier at 600 E. Grand Ave.; 866-273-2469
When: Boarding at 6:30 p.m., Cruise is from 7 – 10 p.m. Monday
Price: $119.90 per person

Evanston Fireworks
Just north of the city, you’ll find another great fireworks display at Evanston’s Clark Street Beach. It may not be as big as Navy Pier’s show, but it does have music. Just tune your radio to 90.5 FM and enjoy your sensory overload of big booms, flashes of light and sweeping musical scores. Come by a little early to catch a twilight concert from the Palatine Concert Band from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Where: Sheridan Rd. and Church St.; 847-637-5236
When: 9:15 p.m. Monday
Price: FREE

Tinley Park July 4th Celebration
Southsiders should head to this community celebration in Tinley Park. The events begin in the afternoon with live jazz and polka music, bingo, a horseshoe tournament and more. Beer and food tents will be open to keep visitors refueled and refreshed all day. Don’t forget a blanket or some chairs for the fireworks display at the end of the night.
Where: McCarthy Park, 16801 S. 80th Ave., Tinley Park; 708-342-4200
When: 4 – 9:30 p.m. Monday
Price: FREE

New Music Mondays
If you're already planning to hit the Taste or Navy Pier on the 4th, you might as well stop by Millennium Park for New Music Mondays, where Lollapalooza vets Mucca Pazza and local electronica group Cave will be playing in the beautiful Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
Where: 201 E. Randolph St.; 312-742-1168
When: 6:30 p.m. Monday
Price: FREE

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