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Fireworks and food: 5 Fourth of July celebrations you don't want to miss

The Hill Country Galleria is hosting its Independence Day Festival this year after canceling last year. (Hill Country Galleria/Instagram)

It's almost America's birthday and you know what that means—time to celebrate like it's 2019.

With fireworks, corn dog eating contests, cookouts and crawfish boils galore, Austin businesses and restaurants are pulling out all the stops to make up for lost time and get people excited to exercise the freedom to party. Happening all on Sunday, no matter who you spend the holiday with, you're guaranteed to find an event for anyone but here are a few options to get you started.


H-E-B Austin Symphony 4th of July Concert, 8 p.m.

The Austin Symphony Orchestra and the City of Austin are banding together for the return of its Fourth of July concert, putting on a symphonic and patriotic free concert under the stars. Enjoy vendors with food, crafts and gifts, as well as guest speakers who will kick off the event at Auditorium Shores and the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive, ending the evening with a brilliant fireworks display over the expanding skyline.

Hill Country Galleria’s Independence Day Festival, 4-10 p.m.

After a year of hiatus, the Hill Country Galleria, 12700 Hill Country Blvd, is resurrecting the annual Independence Day Festival with fun for the whole family. The free event will take place in the shopping center's expansive outdoor space with live local music, more than 75 vendors and kids entertainment in addition to the permanent restaurants and shops on the property. The celebration will conclude with a fireworks show on the lawn at the end of the night.

Fireworks at Dreamland, 10 p.m. 

There is no better place in Central Texas to watch fireworks than Dripping Springs, where the dark sky community provides the perfect blank canvas for Dreamland, 2770 US-290, to put on a vibrant display. The outdoor arts and entertainment center will have all the normal activities, like mini-golf and pickleball, plus locally sourced food and drink specials available from its on-site food trucks and taproom. Fireworks will begin on the main stage at 10 p.m.

Lobster & Friends at Launderette, 12-8 p.m.

If you're looking to break tradition and skip the traditional backyard cookout this year, Launderette, 2115 Holly Street, is holding its third annual Lobster & Friends seafood boil in celebration of Independence Day. For $50 per guest, the menu includes plenty of lobster, shrimp, crab, clams, mussels, sausage, corn, potatoes, sides and festive desserts to nosh on. Tickets must be reserved beforehand either for dine-in or to-go orders.

4th Of July Corn Dog Eating Contest, 4 p.m.

If a little competition is what you're after for America's birthday, Black Sheep Lodge, 2108 S. Lamar Blvd., is exercising the freedom "to eat as damn much as we can, as fast as we can" by hosting its 11th annual corn dog eating contest in addition to food and drink specials for the holiday. Contestants must pay a $20 entrance fee that will earn you a chance for the gold and a commemorative T-shirt, while the "Grand Champeen" will score $250 in cash. Reserve a spot by emailing events@blacksheeplodge.com.


Read more about Fourth of July:

Austin Symphony Orchestra cancels Fourth of July concert and fireworks due to coronavirus concerns

Popular

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway

‘Like speed dating of cats’ at Purr-fecto Cat Lounge
Purr-fecto Cat Lounge

Lina Martinez with her newly adopted cat, Emmanuel, who she renamed Sullivan.

Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.

As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.

“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”

Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.

“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”

Actually, a purr-fect idea.

Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.

At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”

Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.

“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”

Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.

“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”

Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.

“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”

Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.

“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”

And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.

“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”

Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.

“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”