Christmas spirit with a bluegrass twang
We would never try to steer you away from spending your July 4th in Boston. That said, if you're looking to be a tourist, there are certainly other Independence Day celebrations that warrant an escape. Plus, if you left town, it would be easier for us to park.
WEST JEFFERSON, N.C.
Christmas in July: There isn't much about this festival that says Christmas. It will be hot. There will be outdoor food vendors. The music will be mostly bluegrass. There will, however, be plenty of red and green to remind you of December. About 20,000 people attend Christmas in July every year, so expect to be one of many feasting on treats and shopping for local crafts. Worth noting if you have kids: There are usually some solid puppet shows during the festivities. Most events free. www.christmasinjuly.info.
JUNE 26-JULY 4
Welcome America Festival: Down in Philadelphia, a city that likes to argue it has more July 4 street cred than we do, there will be Independence Day events for a full week, including parades, memorial ceremonies, and music. The climax of the Philly party will be a free concert featuring Sheryl Crow (take that Keith Lockhart!). Mayor Michael Nutter says the fireworks will look better than ever with the cityscape in the background (take that Esplanade!). It's worth arriving early, mainly because there's an ice cream festival on Penn's Landing on July 3. If you can make it there by June 29, you can catch a screening of the Philly-based film "Rocky" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Most events free. www.welcomeamerica.com.
Music City Hot Chicken Festival: Yes, Boston offers many culinary treats on July 4, but only one Independence Day celebration is dedicated to the love of poultry. As its name suggests, this festival offers visitors hot chicken in many forms. There are usually many free samples and unique recipes. The highlight is probably the amateur cooking contest, where locals try to win the title of king or queen of hot chicken. The festival provides deep fryers for all contestants. www.nashvillehotchickenfestival.com.
Canada Day: This one's technically not an Independence Day celebration, but it's the closest thing to it in Canada. The Toronto party is held in Mel Lastman Square, a peaceful spot away from traffic. The night begins with a performance by the Abrams Brothers, who are kind of like the Jonas Brothers if the Jonas Brothers played bluegrass and were from Ontario. There will also be fireworks. Canadians do those, too. www.toronto.ca/special_events.
SEPT. 28-OCT. 2
JACKSON HOLE, WYO.
Wildlife Film Festival Competition: If you're a regular Animal Planet viewer or National Geographic reader, you'll probably enjoy this celebration of natural history cinema. Not only are there films featuring furry, slimy, and endangered things, there are also speakers, museum representatives, and zoo professionals. Basically, if you want to work with animals, consider this a job fair. It's a pricey trip, but you can get early-bird rates through June. Travel packages online. www.jhfestival.org.
Events are sometimes canceled, rescheduled, or sold out; check online. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.