July 4: Fireworks Over the Matanzas in St. Augustine

Fireworks Over The Matanzas begin at 9:30 p.m. July 4 in downtown St. Augustine.

Fireworks Over The Matanzas begin at 9:30 p.m. July 4 in downtown St. Augustine. Photo by Mark Cubbedge

Park ‘n Ride Shuttle debuts on July 4th weekend with free transportation to and from downtown (see shuttle information below in the story.)

IF YOU GO

  • Monday, July 4
  • MUSIC6 to 8 p.m. All Star Orchestra performs in the Plaza de la Constitucion, between King Street and Cathedral Place
  • FIREWORKS9:30 p.m. over the water near St. Augustine’s bayfront

From the City of St. Augustine

Holidays are built around traditions and few holidays have more great family traditions than the Fourth of July: Great food, outdoor band concerts, a day with friends and family, and of course, fireworks! They all come together in a grand celebration, and there’s no better place to celebrate the nation’s Independence Day than in the Nation’s Oldest City and no better way than Fireworks Over The Matanzas.

First, there’s music

Starting at 6 p.m. Monday, July 5 one of the region’s most popular big bands, The All Star Orchestra, returns to the Plaza de la Constitución (click here for a map) for a two-hour show filled with big band and swing music along with all the traditional patriotic favorites. The All Star Orchestra’s performance from the Plaza’s Gazebo runs from 6 to 8 p.m. The concert is FREE and those attending should bring lounge chairs for seating.

Then there’s fireworks!

Fireworks Over The Matanzas, the highlight of St. Augustine’s traditional July 4th activities, has become synonymous with celebrating Independence Day in the Nation’s Oldest City.

The spectacular aerial display of pyrotechnics high over Matanzas Bay begins at 9:30 p.m.

The 20-minute display is tightly choreographed to a stirring soundtrack of great popular and patriotic music delivered over an extensive sound system transforming the entire Bayfront between the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and the Bridge of Lions into a theatre of sight and sound (click here for a map).

For over two decades Fireworks Over The Matanzas has been produced by Fireworks by Santore, a company based in nearby Flagler County, that’s been in the fireworks business for over 125 years. Fireworks Over The Matanzas is just one of more than 250 shows produced by Fireworks by Santore annually including shows for Daytona International Speedway, Sea World Orlando, Walt Disney World and a large number of corporate and private events all across the country.

This year’s Fireworks Over The Matanzas will include over 5,000 individual shells ranging in size from 1″ to 12″ in diameter. Some will explode as low as 100 feet above Matanzas Bay, others as high as 2,000 feet and everywhere in between. In addition to St. Augustine, Santore crews will be firing shows in 40 other locations on July 4th to celebrate our nation’s birthday.

Enjoy downtown after the show

Many visitors attending Fireworks Over The Matanzas remain downtown at the conclusion of the show for a late dinner or to visit the shops that have learned the value of extended hours on July 4th. Given the choice between spending time strolling downtown with friends and family or waiting in traffic, more and more people are taking their time for departure.

Keep it safe and legal

Those attending Fireworks Over The Matanzas should remember two important safety rules that will be strictly enforced:

  • Alcohol is prohibited on public property, including parks, streets and sidewalks; and
  • Possession of fireworks that explode or leave the ground is illegal and those found with such fireworks will have prohibited fireworks confiscated and be subject to $100 citation or arrest.

Simply put: Have a great time with friends and family, but keep it safe and legal!

Personnel from the St. Augustine Fire Department and the St. Johns County Emergency Medical Services will patrol the downtown throughout the evening, staging out of an area at the corner of S. Castillo Dr. and Cuna St. That same area will also be equipped with a “cool zone trailer,” a facility allowing those feeling overwhelmed by the heat to rest for a few minutes, often a good way to avoid heat exhaustion (click here for map).

Park ‘n Ride Shuttle is best way to beat the parking challenge

The July 4th weekend will feature a Park ‘n Ride Shuttle, offering free transportation service to and from the downtown area, and over 400 additional, free, parking spaces to accommodate what is St. Augustine’s busiest single day of the year.

The Park ‘n Ride Shuttle will operate two routes, one on the mainland and one on Anastasia Island.  The mainland shuttle, operating on Saturday-Monday, July 2-4, from 10:00am until 1:00am (following day) will bring passengers to the Visitor Information Center, 10 S. Castillo Dr. The island shuttle, operating only on Monday, July 4, from 6:00pm until 1:00am (following day) will bring passengers to the east end of the Bridge of Lions.

Both shuttles will run continuously serving each location approximately every 20 minutes.

Mainland Route / Saturday, Sunday, Monday, July 2, 3, 4

  • 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.  (following day) July 2-4

Continuous service to and from the Visitor Information Center

  • St. Johns County Administration Building, 500 San Sebastian View*(map)
  • St. Johns County Health Department, 200 San Sebastian View*(map)
  • San Marco Ave., 301 San Marco Ave (map)

Island Route / Monday, July 4

  • 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. (following day) July 4

Continuous service to and from the east end of the Bridge of Lions

  • Anastasia Baptist Church, 1650 A1A South*(map)
  • St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 1340-C A1A South*(map)
  • R. B. Hunt Elementary School, 125 Magnolia Dr. with pick-up on Anastasia Blvd.* (map)
  • St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, 999 Anastasia Blvd.* (map)

* handicap accessible

The Park ‘n Ride Shuttle is a free service sponsored by the City of St. Augustine with the cooperation of St. Johns County Administration, St. Johns County Health Department, R. B Hunt Elementary School, Anastasia Baptist Church, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, and Old Town Trolley Tours.

Additional parking for July 4th weekend

For Saturday-Monday, July 2-4, free parking availability near the downtown will increase by over 400 spaces with the opening of a parking area just west of U.S. 1 on King St. Located at the corner of W. King St. and Hartshorn St. (click here for a map), the lot is approximately one mile, a 20 minute walk, to the Bayfront. There is no shuttle service available from the W. King St. lot.

The Historic Downtown Parking Facility located at the Visitors Information Center (click here for a map) can accommodate 1,200 vehicles. The rate is $12 per car per entry.

Parking in city owned lots and on-street is free on Sundays and on July 4th, as it is on all federal holidays, with the largest concentration of surface parking located on Granada St. behind the Lightner Building (click here for a map).

Parking in the lot at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is not free and is enforced by the National Park Service from 8:00am – 5:00pm, seven days a week, including Sundays and federal holidays.

Getting in and getting out

St. Augustine’s Old World streets are a key component of its Old World charm and a challenge when dispersing large numbers of vehicles, but the St. Augustine Police Department has refined a traffic plan that moves vehicles safely and as quickly as possible out of the downtown area following the show.

Rerouting of traffic begins at 8:30pm and will include prohibiting vehicular traffic on the Bridge of Lions, Avenida Menendez and S. Castillo Dr. in order to accommodate the vast number of pedestrians. Also there will be no access to or from the Castillo’s parking lot on July 4th from 6:00pm until approximately 11:00pm.

Following the show, King St. and W. Castillo Dr. will be dedicated to west-bound traffic out of the downtown to Ponce de Leon Blvd. (U.S. 1). Traffic signals in the downtown area, along Ponce de Leon Blvd. (U.S. 1), Anastasia Blvd., and State Roads 312, 207 and 16 will be monitored to facilitate traffic flow.

The best advice is to arrive early, explore the city, enjoy the show, and be patient during departure.

If arriving by water

The Bridge of Lions will not open for marine traffic from 8:30pm until 10:30pm. Vessels will be prohibited in an area north of the Bridge of Lions to a point approximately in line with Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Water based law enforcement will patrol Matanzas Bay and will notify vessels of the prohibited area.

Or … ride a bicycle

A growing trend in recent years has been the use of bicycles by those who live close to downtown or to take advantage of perimeter parking areas and bike the last mile to downtown.

Bicycle parking sites are located throughout the downtown making it easy to secure bikes before going to dinner or taking that pre-fireworks stroll. Click here to see locations of permanent bicycle parking. There will also be temporary bicycle parking locations set up at Ponce Circle (map) and on the north side of the Visitor Information Center (map).

July 4th includes opportunity to help St. Johns County teachers

The City of St. Augustine is partnering with INK (Investing In Kids), formerly known as the St. Johns County Education Foundation, and The Bailey Group Resource Depot, in their annual Tools 4 Schools supply drive.

On July 4th, INK will be collecting school supplies in support of St. Johns County teachers. On average, teachers spend $600 of their own money on school supplies for their students and classroom. The goal of Tools 4 Schools is to lower this cost to our educators.

Donations will be collected from 5:00pm until 7:00pm at:

  • St. Augustine Visitor Information Center, 10 S. Castillo Dr. (map)
  • Davis Park, Anastasia Blvd. @ N. St. Augustine Blvd. (map)
  • Lightner Museum, 75 King St. (map)

The top ten supplies needed are:

  • USB flashdrives,
  • glue sticks,
  • composition notebooks,
  • construction paper,
  • boxes of facial tissue,
  • disinfectant wipes,
  • erasers, both long and cap,
  • dry erase markers,
  • highlighters, and
  • staplers.

For more information on INK and the Tools 4 Schools supply drive, call 904.547.7120 or visit www.ink-stjohns.org/tools-4-schools.

Those who make it possible

Fireworks Over The Matanzas is made possible by support from the City of St. Augustine and the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. For Florida’s Historic Coast visitor information, call 800.653.2489 or visit www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com.

City staff from every department work during the days leading up to July 4th to make sure the holiday is safe and exciting for all who attend Fireworks Over The Matanzas.

In particular, the personnel of the St. Augustine Police and Fire Departments, Streets and Grounds Division, Solid Waste and Sanitation Divisions, the Visitor Information Center and Historic Downtown Parking Facility spend their holiday serving the public and earn a special thank you from the community for their dedication.

More Information

For more information about Fireworks Over The Matanzas, visit www.FireworksOverTheMatanzas.com or contact the City of St. Augustine Public Affairs Department at 904.825.1004 or email info@citystaug.com.

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