4th of July week is upon us. Fire up the Big Green Egg and let the pool parties begin, it’s time to relax in the sun.

If you are still looking for some ideas for what to do this 4th of July week, read the story from www.nola.com Michael Kleinschrodt, NOLA.com  for ideas.

Fireworks and festivals define the Fourth of July in New Orleans, a city that will start the patriotic partying on Saturday, June 29, and not stop until Sunday, July 7. Apparently, the one thing better than Independence Day is Independence Week.

New Orleans

In the Crescent City, children are the focus of a pair of preliminary festivities.

The Louisiana Children’s Museum, 420 Julia St., is throwing an America Rocks!party on Saturday, June 29, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Enjoy live music; meet Uncle Sam; and engage in red, white and blue-themed craft projects in anticipation of the Fourth of July. Admission: $12 at the door, $10 in advance, or $5 for members. Call 504.266.2412.

After that, head over to The Big Top, 1638 Clio St., for The Invincible Czars’ Olde-Fashioned Pre-Fourth of July Indoor Picnic, which starts Saturday, June 29, at 2 p.m. Picnic baskets and blankets are encouraged at the Austin, Texas, band’s family-friendly event, which features dancing, hula hoops, a costume contest and a performance of the band’s rock rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Admission: Free, but donations and tips are encouraged. Call 504.569.2700.

The Trinity Artist Series helps to set a holiday mood with its Patriotic Music Extravaganza, Sunday, June 30, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1329 Jackson Ave. The concert features The Navy Band New Orleans, The Marine Corps New Orleans Ceremonial Band, Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, and pianist Quinn Peeper and organist Albinas Prizgintas performing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” A reception follows the concert. Admission: Free. Call 504.670.2520.

After that, attention turns to the big day itself, when music and food will keep people occupied while waiting for the evening fireworks.

As a prelude to the Essence Festival, Essence will present its first Family Reunion Day in Woldenberg Park Thursday, July 4, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event features food (including the finals of the Walmart Grilling Competition), a petting zoo presented by the Audubon Nature Institute, and live music. Carla Ferrell and DJ Mike Swift will emcee the music stage, which will host performances by Biz Markie, the Brass-A-Holics, Cupid, Doug E. Fresh, Gina Brown, Tweet, the Stooges Brass Band and Water Seed. Admission: Free.

For something completely different, head over to Bayou St. John at Orleans Avenue for the Ancient Order of the Krewe of Kolossos Bayou Boat Parade, which rolls (rows?) Thursday, July 4, at 5 p.m. Participants of all ages are encouraged to paddle out in their canoes, pirogues, kayaks, row boats and rafts (prizes for creative decorations and costumes) to celebrate Independence Day. The parade’s theme is “Freedom,” and the event includes the coronation of the king and queen. No beads. No glass bottles. No littering. Admission: Free. Call 504.905.2830.

Of course, the crowning jewel of New Orleans’ Fourth of July celebration is the Riverfront Marketing Group’s Go 4th on the River, which presents the Dueling Barges Fireworks extravaganza over the Mississippi River, Thursday, July 4, about 9 p.m. The fireworks show’s soundtrack will be simulcast on Magic 101.9, WWL-AM and –FM, and www.wwltv.com. Admission: Free.

Some of the best seats for the fireworks can be found aboard two of the boats plying the Mississippi.

The Steamboat Natchez, which docks at the Toulouse Street Wharf at the Jax Brewery, will cruise Thursday, July 4, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy a buffet, open bar and music by a local DJ before viewing the fireworks from the river. Boarding begins at 6:30 p.m. Seating times for dinner are 6:30 or 7:45 p.m. Admission: $74 adults, $30 children ages 6-12, $15 children ages 2-5. Call 504.586.8777.

The Creole Queen Paddlewheeler, which docks at Spanish Plaza at Canal and Poydras streets, will cruise Thursday, July 4, from 9 to 11 p.m. Guests will view the fireworks from the river and enjoy food, an open bar and music by a DJ. Boarding begins at 8 p.m. Admission: $119 adults, $69 children ages 6-12, $20 children ages 3-5. Call 504.529.4567.

BeyonceAP.jpgView full sizeBeyonce headlines the Essence Festival July 7 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.The Associated Press

Once the Fourth has passed, theEssence Festival takes over the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Convention Center for its annual Party With a Purpose Friday, July 5, through Sunday, July 7. The Essence Festival features empowerment seminars with nationally known speakers (starting July 4), entertainment, a marketplace, book fair with author signings, food, African-American art, cultural activities and discussions. Friday, July 5, Maxwell, Jill Scott, LL Cool J and Brandy perform on the main stage. The headliners on Saturday, July 6, are New Edition, Charlie Wilson, Trey Songz, Keyshia Cole and Solange. On Sunday, July 7, Beyonce, Janelle Monae, and TGT (Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank) are the star attractions. Visit Essence for a complete festival schedule. Admission: Free for seminars; evening concerts start at $50, through Ticketmaster.

East Jefferson

In Metairie, you won’t have to wait until July 4 for fireworks.

UncleSamJam2012.jpgAt the 2012 Uncle Sam Jam in Metairie, the fireworks had to compete with lightning for viewers’ attention. This year’s event is July 3.NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive

The Uncle Sam Jam is set for Wednesday, July 3, from 3 to 9 p.m. in Lafreniere Park. The celebration features food and drink, music by a DJ in the afternoon and live bands at night. The fireworks show is expected to start about 9 p.m. Chairs and blankets are welcome; no outside food or drink. Admission: Free. Call 504.838.4389.

Some will take the holiday as an opportunity to help others. Victory Fellowship Church, 5708 Airline Drive in Metairie, will host its annual Feed the Multitudes event Thursday July 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event, for the needy of the community, features food, entertainment, games and activities for children, haircuts and manicures, a shoe giveaway, and more. Admission: Free. Call 504.733.5005, ext. 214.

There’s also a spiritual element to the Bucktown Bash and Blessing of the Fleettaking place at Bucktown Harbor on Old Hammond Highway (over the levee) in Metairie near the Orleans Parish line. The celebration, Thursday, July 4, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., includes the Blessing of the Fleet, live music, arts and crafts, Louisiana seafood, kite flying, children’s activities and more. The schedule: Gates open, 11 a.m.; Blessing of the Fleet, noon; Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, 12:30-1:30 p.m.; Christian Serpas and Ghost Town, 1:50-2:50 p.m.; The Bucktown All-Stars, 3:20-4:20 p.m.; Wet Willie, 4:50-6:05 p.m.; and The Grass Roots, 6:35-7:50 p.m. Admission: $5, free for children 12 and under. Call 504.731.7083.

The East Jefferson festivities wrap up Thursday, July 4, about 9 p.m., when the city of Kenner and the Treasure Chest casino, 5050 Williams Blvd., host a fireworks showover Lake Pontchartrain. Admission: Free. Call 504.443.8000.

West Bank

On the West Bank, the Fourth of July is all about the fireworks.

In Algiers, the weekly Wednesdays on the Point concert will be pushed from July 3 to Thursday, July 4, for an expanded holiday edition featuring Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Egg Yolk Jubilee and Diablo Horns. The bands will perform from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Algiers ferry dock, wrapping up just in time for guests to watch the Go 4th on the River fireworks extravaganza. Admission: Free.

There are at least two other fireworks shows planned for the West Bank.

Belle Chasse United Methodist Church, 8375 Louisiana 23, will host a celebration with food, drinks, games, jumpers and more, Thursday, July 4, from 5 to 9 p.m. The evening will end with fireworks about 8:45 p.m. Admission: Free. Call 504.394.1976.

At the Westwego Farmers and Fisheries Market, 484 Sala Ave., the holiday celebration will feature music by The Tricks Band (with special appearances by Elvis Presley and Little Richard), food, beer and soft drinks, Thursday, July 4, starting at 7 p.m. A fireworks show is expected to begin at 10 p.m. Admission: Free.