Outdoor Entertainment

Music and fireworks in the open air.

Imagine relaxing in a lawn chair, gazing at the alpenglow bathing the Bridgers, listening to a symphony orchestra play moving, patriotic music... which leads directly into a spectacular fireworks display. This is what you can expect at Bozeman’s annual Festival of the Fourth, held at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds on Independence Day. The entire evening is a sensory delight, beginning with a fundraising barbecue for the Bozeman Symphony and culminating with an explosion of light amid the dark summer sky.

Around 9pm, as twilight envelops the Gallatin Valley and jackets slide over shivering shoulders, conductor Matthew Savery takes the stage. His enthusiasm and personality reflecting the towering mountains behind him, Savery bellows a hearty welcome to the crowd and introduces the orchestra. Draped over the stage is a massive, contoured bandshell for lighting and acoustics.

The music starts, and for the next 90 minutes – while darkness obscures sight and enhances sound – the audience enjoys a wide range of symphonic selections. Maestro Savery always saves the most rousing rendition for last, and it culminates in perfect time with the fireworks exploding overhead. The symphony gives way to recorded music, and for the next half hour, the sky blazes with light as classic freedoom-themed songs pour from the speakers. If you don’t get goose bumps listening to this inspiring music while fireworks detonate overhead in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains, you need to check your pulse.

Festival of the Fourth is free and open to the public, with donations accepted for the event's sponsor, the Gallatin Empire Lions Club. Bleachers are available, but plan on bringing a lawn chair and blanket for closer, more comfortable seating, and get there early. The barbecue starts at 6:30pm; tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. For more information, visit bozemansymphony.org.