July 4th, 2012 In Philadelphia: Our Hour-By-Hour Guide To Events And Activities Throughout The Day

(Photo credits: top and bottom right by G. Widman for GPTMC, bottom left by J. Smith for GPTMC)

Where’s the best place to celebrate July 4th? The place it all began: Philadelphia.

Wednesday, July 4th brings a festive parade, historical commemorative ceremonies, giant street fair, live music and so much more.

And it’s all leading up to Wawa Welcome America’s grand finale event on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, featuring an awesome star-studded outdoor concert and sensational fireworks. It’s the nation’s largest free outdoor Fourth of July concert, the conclusion of ten days of festivities, and you won’t want to miss a minute of it.

Check out our detailed rundown of the entire July 4th day, below. And as always, follow @uwishunu on Twitter for continuous updates on everything going on in Philadelphia.


• Celebration of Freedom Ceremony: Celebrate our nation’s 236th birthday with a patriotic salute. Music, speeches and a reading of Declaration of Independence excerpts pay tribute to the history of our nation. Steps of Independence Hall, 6th and Market Streets, 10–11 a.m. Free.

• Philadelphia Independence Day Parade: Wawa Welcome America takes the freedom celebration to the streets during the annual July 4th Parade. The parade steps off at 11 a.m. at 5th and Chestnut Streets immediately following the July 4th Independence Day Ceremony (see above). The procession marches six blocks through Historic Philadelphia and ends at Front Street and Market Streets. With more than 5,000 participants from a dozen states, this is a can’t-miss celebration. Begins at 5th and Chestnut Streets, 11 a.m. Free.

Betsy’s Independence Day Bash: Celebrate the 4th with the woman who crafted the flag that came to symbolize America’s freedom. Activities for kids including a patriotic craft, a children’s naturalization ceremony (see 13 children become American citizens) at 1:30 p.m. and ceremonial bell ringing at 2 p.m. 239 Arch Street, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free.


• America’s Birthday Party at the Independence Visitor Center: Say Happy Birthday to America with a special five-tier cake designed by Termini Bros. bakery specially for the Independence Visitor Center’s July 4th celebration immediately following the parade (see above). Termini Bros will also provide 1776 red, white and blue cupcakes to be passed out to all who attend. 6th and Market Streets, 1 p.m. Free.

Independence Day Celebration in Franklin Square: Celebrate America’s birthday with free activities for the whole family, including pets. Sponsored by Adventure Aquarium, the festivities include a Cake Shake Eating Contest & Pie Eating Contest, live music, patriotic pet parade and crafts, carnival games, dunk tank and the Lightning Bolt Express train excursion around the square. 6th and Race Streets, noon-4 p.m. Free, except tickets required ($5 adults, $4 children) for Lightning Bolt Express.

• Bell Tapping Ceremony: “Let Freedom Ring,” a ceremony of inspiring music and patriotic presentations on Independence Square begins at 1 p.m. The ceremony will conclude with a symbolic tapping of the Liberty Bell at 2 p.m. The Liberty Bell will ring out to commemorate America’s independence, sponsored by Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration and Sons of the American Revolution. Liberty Bell Center, 500 Market Street, 1:45 p.m. Free.

Ringing of Christ Church Bells: Signers’ Day at Christ Church and the Burial Ground takes place on July 3 this year, but on July 4 at 2 p.m. you can hear the ceremonial ringing of the bells that tolled along with the Liberty Bell on July 8, 1776. 2nd and Market Streets, 2 p.m. Free.

National Museum of American Jewish History: The National Museum of American Jewish History, right on Independence Mall near all the day’s activity, will be open all day with free admission. Get your presidential fix at the museum’s new exhibition spotlighting George Washington. 101 S. Independence Mall East. Free.

The National Constitution Center’s Independence Day Celebration: Philadelphia’s own School of Rock will be featured at the NCC, giving multiple performances throughout the day in the Grand Hall Overlook. Also check out the center’s brand new collection of cool presidential artifacts. 525 Arch Street, Free with admission.

More intel on the day’s main event, including an interactive map of the best places to watch the fireworks, below.


• Party on the Parkway: The Party on the Parkway Festival begins at noon, featuring seven blocks of exciting and educational activities, games, entertainment and food. There will be three music stages, sporting events, interactive games and make-and-take arts and crafts. Food vendors will fill the Parkway cooking up delicious food to purchase for everyone to enjoy. Benjamin Franklin Parkway, noon-7 p.m. Free.

• The Main Event – Philly 4th of July Jam and Grand Finale Fireworks: This is where and when the past week+ of Wawa Welcome America July 4th madness culminates. The 4th of July concert is headlined by The Roots thanks to drummer Questlove’s return role as Wawa Welcome America musical director. Other musical headliners include: Queen Latifah, Daryl Hall, Common, Joe Jonas and more. Giant screens and speakers will broadcast the concert all along the Parkway, which kicks off at 7 p.m. The fireworks follow with an ETA of 10 p.m. (or thereabouts).

Check out our suggestions for where to watch. Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 7 p.m.-late Free.

BONUS: In celebration of July 4th, the National Park Service is extending hours for visitors to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center. Both sites will be open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. from July 1-4. Tickets will not be required for Independence Hall after 5 p.m., July 1-3. No tickets are needed to visit Independence Hall all day on July 4. Tickets are never required for the Liberty Bell Center. Also, if you’re hungry, Crosswalk Cafe at the Independence Visitor Center will be open 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

The Main Event – Philly 4th of July Jam and Grand Finale Fireworks
Where: Benjamin Franklin Parkway, steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
– Concert: Concert programming starts at 7 p.m.; first performer scheduled to go on around 8 p.m.
– Fireworks: The fireworks display is estimated to begin at 10:30 p.m. by Wawa Welcome America, however the fireworks display could begin a little earlier or later depending on when the concert ends.
More info: www.visitphilly.com
Questions: consult @PhiladelphiaGov, @Philly311 and @July4thPhilly for updates and logistical info during the day on July 4.


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One comment

  1. That concert sounds great, but who is “and more”? That’s what will decide where I spend my evening.

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