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Fourth of July Fireworks Specials: A Viewing Guide

Find out when to tune in to see pyrotechnics light up the sky in New York and Washington, D.C. — and when to catch your favorite performer.

Macy's 4th of July Spectacular Fireworks - H 2013
NBC
Macy's 2013 fireworks show.

Fireworks fans not interested in battling crowds of people to watch pyrotechnic celebrations live on the Fourth of July have a couple of ways to see the show from home.

Both New York City and Washington, D.C.’s famous fireworks shows are being broadcast nationwide.

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Check out what you need to know about each special, including when to turn in to see the main event (the fireworks) and who’s performing:

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular (8-10 p.m. on NBC; fireworks start at 9:20 p.m.)

The 38th annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks features more than 40,000 pyrotechnic shells that will be launched from barges positioned on New York City’s East River and the Brooklyn Bridge, using the landmark in the show for the first time since 1995. New York City’s famous fireworks extravaganza has moved back to the east side of Manhattan after five years over the Hudson River on Manhattan’s west side. The fireworks are set to begin at approximately 9:20 p.m. and will last for 25 minutes, accompanied by patriotic music, including Idina Menzel singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," which is celebrating its 200th anniversary. Menzel’s version of the National Anthem can also be downloaded for free through July 5. The NBC broadcast, hosted by Nick Cannon, also features performances by Ariana Grande, Hunter Hayes, Zac Brown Band, Enrique Iglesias, Miranda Lambert and Lionel Richie. An encore presentation at 10 p.m. will highlight the second hour of the special.

Pyro Spectaculars by Souza is behind the fireworks display, which will include 5,000 custom-made effects emanating from the Brooklyn Bridge and new shells like a red serpent star fish, puffy snowballs with red and blue centers and amber-colored glitter shells.

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The forecast in New York calls for heavy rain and possibly a thunderstorm on Friday, but there’s only a 30 percent chance of precipitation, mostly before 8 p.m., predicted for Friday night.

On Thursday, a Macy’s spokesman told The Associated Press the largest Fourth of July fireworks display in the nation will go on no matter what the weather is, but if there’s lightning close to the start of the show, Macy’s and New York City emergency management officials may delay the presentation until the weather passes, NBC News reported, noting that the event has never been canceled. "Since the show became an annual event in 1976, it has always taken place on July 4th," Macy’s spokesman Orlando Veras told NBC News. "Macy's fireworks can take place in the rain, as they have on numerous occasions in the past." Spectators can get up-to-date information by calling the Macy’s Fireworks Hotline at 212-494-4495.

A Capitol Fourth (8-9:30 p.m. on PBS and NPR; fireworks start at 9:10 p.m.)

Broadcast live from the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, A Capitol Fourth showcases the Washington, D.C. fireworks display over the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and will use 20 TV cameras stationed around the nation's capital to capture all of the action. The fireworks are set to start at approximately 9:10 p.m. and last for 17 minutes. The PBS special, which can also be heard on NPR, will be hosted by Dancing With the StarsTom Bergeron and will feature performances from the National Symphony Orchestra, Phillip Phillips, Jordin Sparks, The Muppets, Sara Evans, Kendall Schmidt, Patti LaBelle, Michael McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, Frankie Valli and composer John Williams, who will reportedly debut a new arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner," featuring choirs, trumpets, an orchestra and cannons.

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The forecast for Friday night in Washington calls for clear skies and winds between 9 and 14 mph, with a 40 percent chance of rain during the day. In the event of severe weather, like lightning or high winds, the show would be postponed until July 5. "We can launch in the rain, as long as there is no lightning," National Parks Service Spokeswoman Carol Johnson told NBC News, noting that the show has been delayed in the past but never canceled.