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Best free 4th of July concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area

Fireworks over the water
Fireworks over the water
Photo: Vastateparksstaff (CC 2.0 license)

Dozens of towns throughout the San Francisco Bay Area are staging events to commemorate the nation's 238th birthday. The earliest ones take place on Thursday, July 3. The vast majority take place on Friday, the Fourth of July and a few more take place on Saturday, July 5, so the whole family can come along.

An old fashioned Fourth

Old fashioned parades featuring marching bands, drum majorettes, elaborate floats and small town mayors waving from convertibles are all part of the lineup. There are tug o' war games, 5k fun runs, pie-eating contests, canine beauty contests and face painting galore. Food and music are a big part of the day no matter where you join in the fun.

Traditional county fairs

Big county fairs are another way to celebrate. In San Rafael, the Marin County Fair has several great concerts lined up between July 2 and July 6, 2014. A daily ticket for any of the five days from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. runs $15 to $17. And in Pleasanton, the Alameda County Fair has an Independence Day extravaganza with a Red, White & Blues music lineup from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. that's free with admission to the fair, priced at $8 and up. The fireworks display follows after dark.

Big name performers

In some cities where the onstage live entertainment features well-known talent, tickets generally attract charges from $3 to $8. Elsewhere, big names such as Judy Collins performing with the Santa Rosa Symphony at Weill Hall, Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, has ticket prices from $25.

And in Mountain View, the Shoreline Amphitheater is the venue for a rousing concert by the San Francisco Symphony concluding with fireworks in an annual event that attracts crowds. Tickets run $20 and up.

The best is free

The best free concert in the Bay Area is in Richmond. The Oakland East Bay Symphony performs on the eve of Independence Day, Thursday, July 3, 2014. The evening begins at 6:30 with the Oaktown Jazz Workshops and other groups. At 8:00 p.m. the patriotic program begins, including Sousa marches, "Cowboy Overture" by John Williams, a Disney medley, music from the "House of Cards" by composer Jeff Beal, "The Sound of Music" classic tunes, "America, The Beautiful" and "The Star Spangled Banner," with plenty of audience sing-along. At 9:15, the skies light up to the accompaniment of great, rousing Americana finished off with Music from "Frozen" after the booms cease. The event is sponsored by Target and it's free to the public, at the Craneway Pavilion at 1414 Harbour Way South in the Marina district by the Richmond Waterfront.