On the fourth of July, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was ratified in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founding Father John Adams suggested that the American people would celebrate this day with “bells, bonfires, and illuminations” – little did he know that this would eventually involve 14,000 fireworks displays, and more than 10 million kilograms of explosives, filling skies across the country. Here are some of the best places to celebrate the Fourth of July in the USA.
As the signing place of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia takes its title of ‘America’s birthplace’ pretty seriously in the lead up to Independence Day. For one week, dozens of events will take place across the city in a festival known as Wawa Welcome America. Start the week at Wawa Hoagie Day, where thousands of free hoagies (sub-style sandwich) will be handed out on the lawn of the National Constitution Centre. Other popular events include concerts, outdoor movie screenings and free museum days, to name a few. July 3rd ushers in the Historic Philadelphia Block Party, featuring two stages of live entertainment, beer gardens, a kids’ zone, food trucks, and pop-up performances. Finally, on the fourth of July, the Independence Visitor Center will host an epic birthday party with a five-tier cake and 2,500 cupcakes arranged in the shape of an American flag. In the afternoon and evening, Philadelphia’s Party on the Parkway will feature five blocks of free entertainment including a zipline, outdoor games, dancing, arts and crafts, music, cultural events and food trucks. The finale? Fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a massive concert headlined by Pitbull. God bless America.
Playing a pivotal role in the American Revolutionary War, Boston is an excellent place to celebrate Independence Day. In fact, with some 3 million people joining its festivities each year, Boston is home to perhaps the largest Fourth of July festival in the United States. This year, Boston Harborfest will kick off with an opening ceremony at Faneuil Hall on June 28th. The festival’s program of events includes historical re-enactments, music, speeches, boat and walking tours, live entertainment, and more. Over the course of a week, hundreds of events will draw attendees to some of Boston’s most famous landmarks. Then, on July 3rd and 4th, the Boston Pops Orchestra will perform two highly anticipated concerts at the Hatch Memorial Shell, overlooking the Charles River. After concluding with Tchaikovsky’s famous 1812 Overture, complete with cannon fire and ringing church bells, the July 4th concert will followed by a half-hour fireworks spectacular, launched from the middle of the Charles River.
For lovers of history and tradition, it’s hard to look past the Fourth of July celebrations at Washington, D.C. This year, the US capital will start its National Independence Day Parade along Constitution Avenue at 10 am. The parade begins with a dramatic reading of the declaration by a host of costumed characters, including John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and more. The procession will start just before midday, with thousands of military servicemen and women, drum corps and drill teams, horses, parade floats and giant, patriotic balloons. In the afternoon, you can expect concerts, food and dancing at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, and, in the evening, a free concert on the West lawn of the US Capitol featuring artists such as The Beach Boys, Pentatonix, The Temptations, and the National Symphony Orchestra. The evening will conclude with perhaps the biggest fireworks show in the country; launching from the Reflecting Pool, the display will illuminate iconic landmarks such as the Capitol, the Washington Monument and the White House.
Bristol, Rhode Island
In June and July, head to Bristol, Rhode Island, for the longest-running Fourth of July celebration in the United States. Dating back to 1785, the Bristol Fourth of July Parade will celebrate its 233rd year in 2018—a legacy which has given Bristol the nickname of “America’s most patriotic town”. For three weeks leading up to the big parade, Bristol comes alive with outdoor concerts, carnival rides, soapbox races, parties, and a firefighters’ muster at Independence Park. On July 3rd, the city will host a dusk firework display over Bristol Harbour. Then, at 10:30 am on July 4th, Bristol’s great parade will lead a procession of floats and marching bands down Hope and High Street, in front of some 50,000 cheering spectators.
Known for its colonial history and buildings, the town of Williamsburg, Virginia, allows visitors to travel back in time to 18th-century America. Celebrate Independence Day by watching the town’s special military muster, attending a historical reading of the Declaration of Independence, and joining in a range of colonial games at the Market House. Williamsburg’s Fourth of July celebrations will also include a salute to the original 13 states of America, accompanied by a live drum corps, as well as a ceremonial firing of muskets and cannons. Various establishments around Williamsburg will also be taking part with their own Independence Day-themed events. The Williamsburg Lodge will be throwing a Family Fun Celebration with tickets including dinner, kids’ games, and reserved seating on the Palace Green for the 9:20 pm fireworks display. Meanwhile, the King’s Arms Tavern will host a four-course Thomas Jefferson Wine Dinner; this dinner will be hosted by a charismatic lookalike and feature some of the Founding Father’s favourite dishes.
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