Philadelphia's annual July 4th celebration culminates with the country's largest free outdoor concert and fireworks display on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. (Photos by G. Widman for GPTMC)
Starting to think ahead to how to celebrate July Fourth? Philadelphia, the city where America’s independence was born, is the best place to celebrate Independence Day.
This year’s Wawa Welcome America! festival is eleven days long, a super-sized July Fourth celebration featuring Questlove as musical director, four concerts, three fireworks shows, and annual traditions like Wawa Hoagie Day, Taste of Philadelphia and the Super Scooper All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream Festival.
Here’s the rundown of everything going on:
There will be three free, spectacular fireworks shows this year:
• Saturday, June 25 at Penn’s Landing: 9:30 p.m.
• Saturday, July 2 at Penn’s Landing: 9:30 p.m.
• Monday, July 4 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: 10:30 p.m.
Free, live performances fill the Wawa Welcome America festival from start to finish.
• Aaron Neville: Saturday, June 25, 8 p.m., Penn’s Landing.
• Military-themed concerts: United States Army Band and Air National Guard Band: Saturday, July 2, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing and Wiggins Waterfront Park in Camden.
• The Philly POPS: Sunday, July 3, 8 p.m. Independence Mall.
• Fam Jams: Sunday, July 3, 1-5 p.m., Penn’s Landing.
• Fourth of July Jam: Monday, July 4, 7-10 p.m., Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
• Taste of Philadelphia: June 24, 5-9 p.m.; June 25, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; June 26, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Penn’s Landing.
• Super Scooper All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream Festival: July 2, noon-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.; July 3, noon-5 p.m.; July 4, noon-5 p.m., Penn’s Landing.
• Wawa Hoagie Day: June 29, noon-2 p.m., Independence Visitor Center Lawn.
• Chinatown Block Party: July 2, noon-4 p.m., Chinatown.
• Party on the Parkway: July 4, noon-6 p.m., Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
• Independence Day Parade: July 4, 11 a.m. Historic Philadelphia.
We’ve got information below on Wawa Walcome America’s under-the-stars movie screenings, plus details on the fireworks shows, concerts, festivals and more. And stay tuned for a lot more info to come as the festival approaches.
Philly at the Movies
Wawa Welcome America helps you relish the summer sunshine further by including “Philly @ the Movies” outdoor screening events at great viewing spots throughout the city, from parks to concert venues. Check out the schedule:
• Best in Show: June 27, Piazza at Schmidts
• Fame: June 28, Dell East
• Rocky: June 29, Philadelphia Museum of Art
• The Devil Wears Prada: June 30, Rittenhouse Square
• Hairspray Sing-Along: July 1, Love Park
Viewing tips: Each show immediately follows a live concert (see below for details). You’ll want to make sure you get there early; bring lawn chairs, a blanket and even a picnic.
Best places to watch on June 25 and July 2:
• Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing
• Adventure Aquarium
• Battleship New Jersey
• Independence Seaport Museum
• SugarHouse Casino
Best places to watch on July 4th:
• Lemon Hill in Fairmount Park
• Along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which is shut down in honor of the celebration
• Boathouse Row
• Kelly Drive
• Martin Luther King Drive
• Schuylkill River Park
• Aaron Neville: Saturday, June 25, 8 p.m., Penn’s Landing. Enjoy a live concert from Aaron Neville before the first of three breathtaking fireworks shows lights up the skies. Singer-songwriter Somi will open.
• Military-themed concerts: Saturday, July 2, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Penn’s Landing. July 2nd will feature military-themed concerts on both sides of the river. The RiverStage at the Great Plaza will feature the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” while Wiggins Waterfront Park in Camden will feature the Air National Guard Band of the Mid-Atlantic.
• The Philly POPS: Sunday, July 3, 8 p.m. Independence Mall. Catch Philadelphia’s beloved ensemble at this free concert.
• Fam Jams: Sunday, July 3, 1-5 p.m., Penn’s Landing. Returning to Penn’s Landing for a fourth season, this exciting, all-ages concert features some of the hottest rising stars, like American Idol contestant Tim Urban, Emily Osment from the Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana and Cody Simpson.
• Fourth of July Jam: Monday, July 4, 7-10 p.m., Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Four-time Grammy award-winning band The Roots will headline Philly’s 4th of July Jam, from 20th and Eakins Oval facing out over the Parkway. The band and the Festival musical director ?uestlove will perform on their own as well as sets with special guests Earth, Wind and Fire, Michael McDonald, Estelle, Sara Bareilles, DJ Jazzy Jeff and more! Additional performers include Chin Chin, Kindred the Family Soul, the winner of the Wawa Idol competition and the winner of the Welcome America Singer/Songwriter contest.
NEW THIS YEAR: The outer lanes of the Parkway will be closed to car traffic for the first time ever, so you’ll have expanded options for viewing.
• Taste of Philadelphia: June 24, 5-9 p.m.; June 25, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; June 26, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Penn’s Landing. The official kick-off of Wawa Welcome America, a favorite of foodies, is returning this year. Taste delicious dishes from Philadelphia’s top restaurants, while enjoying upbeat music from a range of musicians. Admission is free and the “tastes” from participating restaurants are just a few dollars. The event is even larger this year, and will now spill onto the causeway on Chestnut Street between Front Street and the Great Plaza.
NEW THIS YEAR: La Marqueza, Call Me Cupcakes, Insomnia, Dapper Dog, Sampan, Marabella Meatball Company and others.
• Super Scooper All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream Festival: July 2, noon-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.; July 3, noon-5 p.m.; July 4, noon-5 p.m., Penn’s Landing. What better way to raise money for children with leukemia than to eat your favorite kind of ice cream? At this annual celebration of sweetness, more than 20 ice cream and water ice companies will serve up their cool, creamy treats. With a $7 donation, ice cream lovers can grab a spoon and unlimited access to their favorites. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Joshua Kahan Fund and the fight to cure pediatric leukemia.
• Wawa Hoagie Day: Wednesday, June 29, noon-2 p.m., Independence Visitor Center Lawn. Mayor Nutter will join Philadelphia police officers and firefighters, Wawa associates and hoagie-lovers across the Philadelphia region in serving a 4.5 ton hoagie on Independence Mall.
• Chinatown Block Party: July 2, noon-4 p.m., Chinatown. Experience a taste of Philadelphia’s Asian culture.
• Party on the Parkway: July 4, noon-6 p.m. Music, dancing, cultural activities, arts and crafts and live entertainment make for an afternoon of (free!) family fun. Stick around for the 4th of July Jam and Fireworks (see above).
• Independence Day Parade: July 4, 11 a.m. With more than 4,000 participants from a dozen states, 16 marching musical groups, nine floats, five military branches and a multitude of special guests, Wawa Welcome America!’s Independence Day Parade is one of the most diverse Fourth of July parades in the country. It marches through downtown Historic Philadelphia, stepping off at 5th and Chestnut Streets immediately following the July 4th Independence Day Ceremony. The procession heads up Chestnut Street, passing Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, turns right on 9th Street, then proceeds one block north to Market Street where it turns right again. Once on Market Street the parade marches six blocks downtown though Historic Philadelphia and ends at Front Street.
We’ll be updating you as Wawa Welcome America approaches, and throughout the festival, on what to see and do!
Wawa Welcome America!
When: June 24-July 4
Where: Locations vary
Cost: Mostly free
More info: www.welcomeamerica.com
Previously: Wawa Welcome America Set To Return With A Super-Sized July 4th Celebration For 2011: Questlove As Musical Director, Four Concerts, Three Fireworks Shows, Two Weekends, Wawa Hoagie Day And Much More