Celebrate America's birthday from dawn until dusk on Thursday, July 4th. (Photos by G. Widman for GPTMC)
Where’s the best place to celebrate July 4th? The place where it all began, of course. Right here in Philadelphia.
Thursday, July 4th brings a full day of festivities from historical commemorative ceremonies to a blowout concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Where to begin? We’ve got a rundown of all the events going on throughout the day on July 4th.
How to get around? Your best bet is to take public transportation including SEPTA and the Phlash Trolley. Note that due to the Independence Day Parade on July 4, limited service will be available on the Philly Phlash trolley with pickups/drop offs ending at Stop 3 and 7 at 11th and 12th Streets until 12:30 p.m. Additional route detours are expected throughout the day.
Read on for the hour-by-hour rundown of Independence Day events.
• Good Morning America Broadcast: Independence Hall, 6th and Chestnut streets, 6:30 a.m. In the early morning on July 4, Good Morning America will be broadcasting live from Independence Hall. Stop by for pre-event festivities, including more than 200 giveaways and the chance to be on national TV.
• Celebration of Freedom: Steps of Independence Hall, 6th and Chestnut streets, 10-11 a.m. Begin the day of 4th of July celebrations with a tribute to the history of our great nation at Independence Hall. The morning is full of music, speeches and a reading of excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. This year’s ceremony will honor the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.
• July 4 Freedom BBQ and Costume Party at Powel House Museum & Garden: 244 S. 3rd Street, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The Powel House, the former home of Colonial socialites and Philadelphia’s final mayor under British rule, hosts an open house and guided tours throughout the afternoon, as well as a cocktail party and barbecue from 3 to 6 p.m. Dress up! A prize will be awarded for the best period costume.
• Independence Day Parade: From 5th and Chestnut streets to Front and Market streets, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Join 5,000 participants from across the country as they march through the nation’s most historic mile for the annual Independence Day Parade. The old-time Fourth of July parade features floats, marching bands, military groups and more.
• Betsy’s Independence Day Bash: Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Visit the home of America’s most famous flagmaker for family-friendly fun including activities for kids, a children’s naturalization ceremony at 1:30 p.m. and ceremonial bell ringing at 2 p.m.
• Historic Germantown’s 9th Annual Independence Day: Various sites in Historic Germantown, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. In historic Germantown, celebrate the holiday at four locations in the area, Stenton, Hood Cemetery, Concord School and Cliveden.
• Battleship New Jersey Fantail BBQ: Battleship New Jersey, 100 Clinton Street, Camden, July 4-5, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. The Battleship New Jersey is open regular hours on the 4th, with a special barbecue outdoors. Enjoy burgers, hot dogs, beverages and on the historic ship’s deck after a tour.
• Independence Day Celebration at Franklin Square: 6th and Race streets, noon-3 p.m. Bring the whole family for an afternoon of fun at historic Franklin Square with old-fashioned carnival games for just $.25 cents and rides around the park on the Lightning Bolt Express train.
• Wawa Welcome America’s Party on the Parkway: Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 18th and 23rd streets, noon-7 p.m. During the day, the blocked-off Parkway begins to fill with festival-goers by the thousands for the Party on the Parkway. Check out music, dancing, cultural activities, arts and crafts and live entertainment on the 4th. Don’t miss warm-up acts on the Global Music Stage Questlove Stage with a sweet lineup of up-and-coming artists like GoGo Morrow, Chill Moody and Gliss.
• America’s Birthday Celebration at the Independence Visitor Center: Independence Visitor Center, 600 Market Street, 1 p.m. What’s a birthday party without cake? Head to the Independence Visitor Center for a dose of sugar from Termini Bros. The South Philly bakery will be on-site starting at 10 a.m. to decorate a five-tier birthday cake throughout the day and then giveaway 2,500 free cupcakes. How sweet.
• Let Freedom Ring: 5th and Market streets, 1-2 p.m. The morning celebrations conclude with the symbolic tapping of the LIberty Bell. Tip: Arrive at the Liberty Bell Center by 1:30 p.m. to view the bell tapping.
• Ringing of Christ Church Bells: Christ Church, 2nd and Market streets, 2 p.m. Hear the bells that tolled along with the Liberty Bell on July 8, 1776, in a special ringing ceremony at Christ Church.
• Wawa Welcome America’s Philly 4th of July Jam: Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 18th and 23rd streets, 7-11 p.m. Join the Roots and special musical guests for the free concert event of the season — billed as “the largest free outdoor concert in the country.” The main event is hosted this year by Philadelphia comedian Kevin Hart with performances from headliners John Mayer, J. Cole, Grace Potter, Jill Scott, Ne-Yo, Ben Taylor, Hunter Hayes (who was just added to the lineup in place of an ill Demi Lovato) and, of course, The Roots. And those are just the artists that have been announced. If you’ve watched the Jam in the past, you know music director Questlove and The Roots usually bring out a few special guests (surprise guest Lauryn Hill killed it last year). Concert programming begins around 7 p.m., with the first performance estimated at 8 p.m. And for the first time, the concert will also televised and live streamed from 8 to 11 p.m. by VH1!
• Wawa Welcome America’s Grand Finale Fireworks on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway: After nearly a week of blockbuster events, Wawa Welcome America presents its annual Grand Finale Fireworks on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The epic, free fireworks show illuminates the sky high above Philadelphia Museum of Art. The show is slated to begin at about 10:30 p.m., but depending on the timing of the concert beforehand (you never know, special guests might extend the show’s duration!) the fireworks start time is approximate. Check out our where to watch guide and interactive map for insider tips on where to catch the patriotic pyrotechnics.