Wawa Welcome America's spectacular fireworks on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway offer an electric toast to July 4th, serving as a climax to a week full of Independence Day celebrations. (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)
The biggest birthday bash of the year starts this weekend, Philadelphia.
Ready to party?
As the birthplace of the nation, July 4th in Philadelphia means many, many parties, including the annual Wawa Welcome America events, historic Philadelphia-centric celebrations and revelry on the Delaware River waterfront, both on the Philadelphia riverside and the Camden waterfront.
Pre-festival events get underway starting this weekend, June 28 and 29, with festive events lined up all the way through Tuesday, July 8.
Of course, the Wawa Welcome America festival is set to be bigger and better than ever, with daily events leading up to a full day (and night!) of patriotic happenings on July 4, including the return to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with live — and free! — music from Grammy-winning musicians, a huge parade, fireworks, a food festival and tons of other activities across the city.
In the historic district, the Independence National Historic Park, Independence Visitor Center, Historic Philadelphia and the National Constitution Center have teamed up to present a wealth of July 4th fun.
On the Delaware, both sides of the river will buzz with Independence Day activity, including free movies and more at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia and particularly patriotic happenings in Camden.
Read on for our overview guide to the 4th of July events in Philadelphia, and check back for much more coverage of America’s birthday celebration soon.
Festivals & Block Parties
• Liberty Block Party: Saturday, June 28, noon-10 p.m. The Shops at Liberty Place, 1625 Chestnut Street. Wawa Welcome America! kicks off with a day of live music, tasty treats and fantastic shopping during the Liberty Block Party at and around The Shops at Liberty Place.
• Wawa Hoagie Day: Wednesday, July 2, noon. Independence Visitor Center Lawn, Market Street between 5th and 6th streets. Bring your appetite to this tasty annual event as Wawa will be serving up 4.5 tons of free hoagies for a patriotic celebration on Independence Mall.
• All-American Celebration: July 2-6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Independence Visitor Center, 6th and Market streets. Meet the nation’s founding fathers, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, participate in Colonial-era games, sign up to become a member of the Continental Army and enjoy daily special events during the All-American Celebration in Historic Philadelphia.
• 1776 Experience: July 2-4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street. Experience the life of an American Revolutionary War soldier as you enter a recreated historic military encampment on the lawn of the National Constitution Center. Practice mustering with the troops, visit the wounded in a medical tent, look for a new sword at the blacksmith shop or go hands-on with carpentry and leatherwork as you experience the soldier’s life.
• Camden Waterfront Freedom Festival: July 3-6. Wiggins Park, Camden Waterfront. Celebrate America’s 238th birthday with the four-day Camden Waterfront Freedom Festival. The free, family-friendly celebration features live music, special events, contests, food, a Festival Beer Garden featuring Flying Fish Brewery, fireworks and much more.
• Party on the Parkway: Friday, July 4, noon-7 p.m. Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 20th Street to Eakins Oval. Head to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to celebrate America’s Birthday with a massive block party and celebration featuring live music — look out for the Questlove Stage! — family-friendly activities, games, food and so much more.
Independence Mall and the Independence Visitor Center host multiple events throughout the week. (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)
More on July 4th in Philadelphia, below.
• 10th Annual Germantown Independence Day Celebration: Friday July 4, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m., 5501 Germantown Avenue and beyond. A free daylong celebration of the 4th of July happens at six Historic Germantown member sites: Stenton, Hood Cemetery, Concord School & Upper Burial Ground, Johnson House, Cliveden, and Wyck. Head to this historic district for a day of free tours, activities for children, live music, reenactors, a farmer’s market, and the annual ringing of the historic Concord School bell.
• Longwood Gardens’ Fireworks and Fountains: Friday, July 4, 9:15 p.m. Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square. Longwood Gardens’ lively Fireworks and Fountains event illuminates the sky to a patriotic tune on Friday, July 4 for the Independence Day edition of the recurring summer music and fireworks event. Tickets to the event include the fireworks display and full access to the gardens.
• Super Scooper All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream Festival: July 4-6, noon-5 p.m. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard. Bring your sweet tooth to Penn’s Landing for the three-day, immensely popular all-you-can-eat ice cream spectacular benefiting the Joshua Kahan Fund for pediatric cancer. A $7 donation is required to join the fun.
Parades & Fireworks
• Post-Phillies Game XFINITY Fireworks Shows: June 26-28, nightly following Phillies games. Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way. For those who want to get a start on the holiday festivities, the Phillies are hosting some spectacular Fireworks Shows set to music at Citizens Bank Park immediately following the games on Thursday, June 26 (7:05 p.m. vs. Marlins), and Friday, June 27 (7:05 p.m. vs. Braves) and Saturday, June 28 (7:15pm vs. Braves).
• Independence Day Parade: Friday, July 4, 11 a.m. Parade starts at 6th and Chestnut Streets. More than 5,000 participants will take to the streets of Historic Philadelphia for a patriotic and colorful parade featuring marching bands, floats, military members and more.
• Philly 4th of July Jam’s Grand Finale Fireworks on the Parkway: Friday, July 4, 2014, 11 p.m. Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The “Largest Free Concert in America” is followed by a magnificent fireworks spectacular over the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Want a great view of the show? Check this interactive map of the top places to watch the fireworks.
• The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” and Adventure Aquarium Waterfront Fireworks Celebration on the Delaware: Saturday, July 5, 8 p.m. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing and Camden Waterfront. One of the nation’s premier musical organizations, the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own”, returns for a free, patriotic performance at Penn’s Landing. The concert will be immediately followed by a spectacular and enormous fireworks display presented by Adventure Aquarium.
The Philadelphia Orchestra takes the open-air stage at Penn's Landing for a free neighborhood concert on Tuesday, July 1. (Photo courtesy of The Philadelphia Orchestra)
Free Concerts & Outdoor Movies
• Philly @ the Movies: Frozen at Franklin Square: Monday, June 30, 9 p.m. Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street. Sing-a-long with your favorite songs during an outdoor screening of Disney’s blockbuster film Frozen on the Franklin Square lawn. Be sure to grab a Cake Shake from Square Burger to join in on the chilly fun.
• Philadelphia Orchestra Neighborhood Concert: Tuesday, July 1, 8 p.m. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard. The world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra presents a free Neighborhood Concert on the RiverStage at the Great Plaza, followed by a small land side fireworks salute.
• Philly @ The Movies: Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Tuesday, July 1, 9 p.m. Rittenhouse Square, 18th and Walnut streets. Continue the harrowing adventures of Katniss Everdeen with an outdoor screening of the second installment of the popular Hunger Games films at Rittenhouse Square.
• Philly @ The Movies: Rocky: Wednesday, July 2, 9 p.m., Philadelphia Museum of Art Steps, 26th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Grab a seat on the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and cheer on the Italian Stallion during the annual free screening of the iconic Philadelphia-film Rocky during Philly @ The Movies.
• POPS on Independence: Thursday, July 3, 8 p.m. Venue Change: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce streets. Join the Philly POPS! for a free, patriotic celebration in honor of America’s birthday. The annual all-American themed concert includes a performance of the 1812 Overture and excerpts of the Declaration of Independence read by Thomas Jefferson. ***UPDATE: Due to inclement weather, the free Philly Pops concert has been moved indoors to the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. The doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the concert will go on at 8 p.m.
• Screenings Under the Stars: The Goonies: Thursday, July 3, 8:30 p.m. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard. Head down to Penn’s Landing for a free film in the great outdoors. Cult classic The Goonies plays for free, and the film will begin at dusk, but be sure to come early as the best seats fill up fast.
• SugarHouse Casino’s Outdoor Summer Concert Series Kick-Off: Friday, July 4, 9 p.m. and Saturday, July 5, at 9 p.m. SugarHouse Casino, 1001 N. Delaware Avenue. The July 4th weekend brings the kick-off concerts of the SugarHouse Casino’s Outdoor Summer Concert Series, a summer-long free music series. On Friday, show up for a show from ‘60s and‘70s American funk band WAR (Spill the Wine, anyone?) and on Saturday, check out The Family Stone. Bonus: SugarHouse makes for a great spot to watch the fireworks over the Delaware River on Saturday, July 5!
• Philly 4th of July Jam: Friday, July 4, 7-11 p.m., Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 21st Street. Perhaps the most hotly anticipated event, the culminating concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway — the Philly 4th of July Jam — brings legendary musicians to a pop-up stage in front of the Art Museum year after year. Philadelphia’s own hometown heroes The Roots are back again to curate a killer lineup and, for the second year, VH1 has partnered up with Wawa Welcome America to provide a high-definition nationwide broadcast of the Philly 4th of July Jam. The 2014 music lineup features great names like Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Hudson, Aloe Blacc and, of course, The Roots.
Immediately following games at Citizens Bank Park, catch XFINITY Fireworks Shows Thursday, June 26 through Saturday, June 28. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Phillies)
Even More Events Around Town
• Mural Arts Paint Day: Sunday, June 29, noon-4 p.m. East Parkside, 1100 N. 41st Street. Grab a paint brush and join the City of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program for a community paint day in the city’s Mantua neighborhood, one of President Obama’s newly designated Promise Zones.
• Friends of Independence National Historical Park Freedom 5K Run: Sunday, June 29, Race starts at 7:30 a.m. Race through the streets of Old City and help support the Friends of Independence National Historical Park
• Go 4th and Learn About Science and Wawa Dairy: Monday, June 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Go hands-on with the Wawa Dairy exhibit and wander amongst the dinosaur skeletons and indoor tropical butterfly garden of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, offering free admission for the day. Bonus: the first 200 children will get a free book.
• Go 4th and Learn About Fitness: Tuesday, July 1, 10 a.m.-noon. Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, 00 Reservoir Drive. Families can get active at the 6.5-acre playground and playhouse in Fairmount Park. Bonus: the first 200 children will get a free book.
• Go 4th and Learn about History: History of the Hoagie: Wednesday, July 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street. Learn how Philadelphia’s famous sandwich became known as the hoagie and discover how Wawa grew from a small dairy farm to an iconic local business during this one-day exhibition at the National Constitution Center. Bonus: the first 200 children will get a free book.
• Celebration of Freedom Ceremony: Friday, July 4, 10-11 a.m. Steps of Independence Hall, 6th and Chestnut streets. Pay tribute to the history of our great nation at Independence Hall with a patriotic and inspiring morning of music, speeches and a reading of excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. This year’s ceremony recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision.
• Let Freedom Ring: Friday, July 4, 1-2 p.m. Independence National Historical Park, 5th and Market streets. Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and Pennsylvania Society’s Sons of the Revolution take part in this special event in the shadow of Independence Hall. The morning of celebration concludes with symbolic tapping of the Liberty Bell at 2 p.m.
• Battleship Blast on the Battleship New Jersey: Friday, July 4, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Battleship New Jersey, Camden Waterfront. Step aboard the Battleship New Jersey for a special July 4th barbecue on the deck of the historic vessel. Be sure to check out the Teach Fleet Lego Display featuring massive, naval-themed Lego models up to eight-feet long.
• America’s Birthday Party with Betsy Ross and Termini Bros. Bakery: Friday, July 4, 1 p.m. Independence Visitor Center, 6th and Market streets. The Independence Visitor Center is hosting a sweet celebration for America’s Birthday with Termini Brothers Bakery. Join Betsy Ross for the unveiling of the world’s largest (and tastiest) American Flag made of cupcakes, which you’ll then get to taste for free.
• Military Day at Adventure Aquarium and Battleship New Jersey: Sunday, July 6. Camden Waterfront. As a special thank you, active and retired military personnel can enjoy discounted admission to Adventure Aquarium and the Battleship New Jersey throughout the day.
• 238th Anniversary of the Reading of the Constitution: Tuesday, July 8, 11:50 a.m. Independence Hall, 6th and Chestnut streets. Commemorate the 238th anniversary of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in the place it actually happened. The free event outside Independence Hall features costumed National Park Rangers and free copies of the Declaration of Independence. Visitors can enter the event from 5th and Chestnut Streets.
Philadelphia is one of the top cities in the country to celebrate the 4th of July. Let's hear it for the red, white and blue! (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)