5 Virtual Reality Fireworks Shows to Watch on Fourth of July

Whether you have Google Cardboard of HTC Vive, there's something for everyone. 


You can’t eat a hot dog in virtual reality, and chewing is awkward when you’re wearing a Rift, but you can engage in a classic part of the holiday celebration: watching fireworks. For a number of reasons, notably that they look dope and are colorful, audio visual technologies embraced fireworks as a means of demonstrating their fidelity several decades ago. By the late ‘90s, Best Buys were full of big screens airing dramatic displays. Today, it’s much the same for both smartphone VR and more traditional headsets.

Don’t enjoy crowds? Don’t enjoy getting poked in the eye with small flags? Short? Lack roof access? Suffer from pyrophobia? Hate loud noises? Have to go to bed early? Live alone in a rural area? Have agoraphobia and very small windows? Your problems are all solved. Here are five ways to watch fireworks in virtual reality.

An attendee inspects Google Cardboard during the 2015 Google I/O conference on May 28, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The annual Google I/O conference runs through May 29. 

Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

5. Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard is by far the most accessible headset on the market today — more than 5 million people already own a fold-up headset. There are a few Cardboard fireworks experiences available on the Android Play Store for free, but they’re all kind of garbage. To get anything good you’ll have to shell out a bit of money for an app like Fireworks VR One. The picture quality isn’t spectacular on any of them, but for a $15 Google cardboard set, you get what you pay for.

On the iPhone, there are comparable free options, but it may be worth it to drop $1.99 to get the Virtual Reality Drone Flight inside Fireworks app. It gives you a more high-definition experience and takes you inside the explosions via a drone.

4. YouTube

Not everyone has a VR headset, so there are a number of free YouTube videos that allow viewers to experience fireworks like never before.

The video above went viral a couple of years ago and has now racked up a whopping 14 million views. Somehow, the DJI Phantom 2 and GoPro Hero 3 Silver the pilot used to film the explosions weren’t destroyed. It’s most certainly illegal, but others have emulated the feat. There are even drones that shoot roman candles and drone swarms that make their own light shows. 

3. Samsung Gear VR

This one’s pretty easy. There’s an app called Fireworks you can download for free in the poorly named “Gear VR Powered By Oculus” store. The app gives viewers a colorful animated fireworks display dancing around lady liberty herself in New York, complete with a music visualizer that syncs up all the explosions to your favorite jam.

2. Oculus

For those who have the Leap Motion sensor affixed to the top of their Oculus Rift, which lets you use your their real hands in a virtual space, Firework Factory is for you. It’s just a demo, but it’ll let you play around with different colors, frequency, and size of the explosion.

1. HTC Vive

The Gallery “Episode 1: Call of the Starseed” isn’t really about the fireworks. Inspired by the ‘80s fantasy films of the same name, users go on a full-fledged first-person interactive adventure that moves through like Myst. In a very early scene, you come across a camp with a number of trinkets to pick up and interact with including popcorn, cans, and, of course, fireworks. Light the fireworks in the fire and wave those hands around for a secluded Fourth of July fireworks experience. For $30, fireworks probably shouldn’t be the only reason you buy this game, but it seems like a fun time either way.