Smith Mountain Lake Fireworks: An Insider’s Guide

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Smith Mountain Lake always manages to delight residents and visitors with Independence Day weekend fireworks that are truly dazzling, especially those viewed over the lake.

But as awesome as the experience may be, it’s critical to put safety first to ensure the well being of all. SML Insiders is dedicated to promoting lake safety and shares these pro tips for enjoying fireworks by boat.

SML’s two most spectacular over-the-water fireworks shows will be launched by professionals on July 4 and 5 and include viewing areas designated as temporary no-wake zones from 8 to 11 p.m. If you’re out on the water those evenings, it’s important to exercise caution to avoid mishaps and collisions.

First, take care not to get so distracted that you lose your bearings. Slow to idle speed or find an off-channel spot to drift. However, remember to keep running lights on as you are still officially “underway” unless beached, tied to a dock or anchored (and showing a single white anchor light).

On July 4, head to Parkway Marina (near channel markers R9 to R6) for the show sponsored by Saunders Volunteer Fire & Rescue. On July 5, Mitchell’s Point Marina in Craddock Creek (near marker C4) will host another fireworks spectacular.

Colorful fireworks light up the sky over the water at Smith Mountain Lake.
Photo by Bryce Scott, Rapid Imagery

During both evenings, it’s crucial for boats to reduce speed to idle upon entering the primary viewing areas to prevent disturbance to other vessels and ensure everyone’s safety. Typically, the fireworks begin around 9:45 p.m.

When leaving the area, boats must again idle back out to the no-wake zone boundaries before accelerating to a safe after-dark cruising speed. This gives the traffic (as many as 3,000 boats is typical) a chance to separate before wakes are generated.

Look out for vessels displaying flashing yellow, blue or red lights, as they indicate the no-wake boundaries and are authorized to enforce the no-wake protocol. Skippers who disregard this protocol and operate above idle speed within these boundaries risk receiving citations for reckless operation.

Smith Mountain Lake has adhered to this no-wake fireworks protocol since 2006, resulting in very few incidents and zero serious injuries. SML Insiders urges all boaters to help maintain this outstanding safety record during these two evenings.

No-Wake Zone Map

2024 SML Fireworks Schedule

July 4, 2024
Parkway Marina

The largest over-the-water fireworks display at SML, this event is a fundraiser for the Saunders Volunteer Fire Company. Enjoy live music by Tate Tuck, as well as food and drink vendors. Gates open at 5 p.m., with music at 6 and fireworks at dusk. Find out more.

July 5, 2024
Mitchell’s Point Marina

This fun-filled SML tradition runs from 7 to 11 p.m. Parking is limited at the marina so fireworks are best viewed by boat near channel marker C3 on Craddock Creek. Donations are accepted for various charities. Find out more.

July 5, 2024
All-American Festival and Fireworks

Celebrate Independence Day at Spring Valley Farm in Bedford County. From 5 to 10 p.m., enjoy live music, food, craft vendors, pony rides, a petting zoo, wagon rides, and a dazzling fireworks display at dusk. The festivities are free. Find out more.

July 6, 2024
Downtown Moneta

FireWorx Fest start at 5 p.m. and include live music by popular regional band The Worx, food, drinks, vendors, games and fireworks. This family-friendly event takes place at Downtown Moneta and benefits the Moneta Fire Department.

SML Insider Jerry Hale, Freelance Writer

Jerry Hale

freelance writer

When he’s not writing about the Smith Mountain Lake, you might just find Jerry out wake surfing or just idling through its coves, practicing guitar or banjo on his deck at the Cottages of Contentment Island, playing steel drums or volunteering with LCM, Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Neighbors Helping Neighbors or the SML Charity Home Tour. 

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