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Fourth Of July Fun Dazzles For Two Weeks In Philadelphia
Three Fireworks Shows, Free Concerts & A New 3-D, 360° History Show Make Philly The Place To Be Before, During & After Independence Day
Philadelphia, the city where America’s independence was born, is the best place to celebrate Independence Day. The nine-day Wawa Welcome America! festival kicks off on June 26 with a free waterfront concert and fireworks show and continues through July 4 with a flag-waving parade through Historic Philadelphia followed by the nation’s largest free outdoor Fourth of July concert by the Goo Goo Dolls and fireworks spectacular on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Adding to the fun are more fireworks, a free concert and a groundbreaking 3-D, 360° history show.
With so much happening before, during and after Independence Day, visitors will want to make it a weekend—or two—especially since the popular Philly Overnight® Hotel Package makes it so easy for families to join in the fun. The two-night offer, available at more than 30 hotels throughout the region, comes with free hotel parking and is bookable on visitphilly.com or by calling the hotel directly.
Here’s a look at what’s going on in Philly for the Fourth:
The Pre-Independence Day Party:
- Taste of Philadelphia – A favorite of foodies, Taste of Philadelphia returns for the fifth year, with more than 25 restaurants joining the gastronomical festivities. Some of the city’s most popular eateries serve up their specialties, and entertainment by Morris Day and the Time adds to the festive atmosphere. Free admission; fees for food samples. June 25-27. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, Columbus Boulevard at Chestnut Street, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Waterfront Concert and Fireworks Display – After an exciting, big-name concert, the first of three breathtaking fireworks shows—presented by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and themed Heat—lights up the skies above the Delaware River. Free. June 26. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, Columbus Boulevard at Chestnut Street, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Go 4th and Learn – About History – Mayor Nutter and local celebs share Historical Story Time with children, who also enjoy face painting, crafts and games. Milk lovers can snap a photo in front of the 1918 Wawa dairy truck, compete in cow-milking contests and taste test the fresh Wawa milk. Free. June 28. Franklin Square, 6th & Race Streets, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Go 4th and Learn – About Science – Kids’ faces light up as they delve into the science of fireworks. Afterwards, participants can explore the museum’s other exhibits and learning spaces such as the beloved Giant Heart. Free. June 29. The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Go 4th and Learn – About Art – Youngsters can discover their inner Picasso during an interactive art and story time with 2010 Caldecott Medal winner and Philadelphia native Jerry Pinckney. Free. June 30. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Philly @ the Movies – Philly’s own Grace Kelly looked as lovely as a princess—which she later was—in the romantic thriller To Catch a Thief. Free. June 28. Rittenhouse Square, 18th & Walnut Streets. Romance and teen angst are set to song in Grease, a classic musical set in the days of malt shops and poodle skirts. Movie buffs can enjoy the nighttime showing along with their own picnic. Free. June 29. Love Park, 15th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Wawa Hoagie Day and Philly @ the Movies – It’s double the delight when these Philly classics team up. Before sitting at the foot of the famed steps to watch Rocky, grab your piece of the mile-long Wawa hoagie and enjoy live music, contests and other iconic Philly treats. Then give your best “Yo Adrian” for the Rocky look-alike contest that precedes the movie showing of the Oscar-winning film on the steps that Rocky made famous. Free. June 30. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street & the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Screenings Under the Stars – Avatar – Part of the summer-long movie series, Avatar makes its Philadelphia waterfront debut during the Fourth of July festival. Free. July 1. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, Columbus Boulevard at Chestnut Street, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
Fourth of July Weekend Festivities:
- Pops on Independence – To start the Independence Day weekend, freedom lovers grab their blankets and picnics and head to Independence Mall for an alfresco performance by Peter Nero and the Philly Pops. Free. July 2. Between 5th & 6th Streets and Market & Chestnut Streets, (215) 409-6700, constitutioncenter.org
- Reading of the Declaration – Historic characters deliver the stirring words of Thomas Jefferson during this dramatic presentation. Free. July 2-5. Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market Streets, (800) 537-7676, independencevisitorcenter.com
- Naval Destroyer Tours – Permission granted to comb aboard a United States naval destroyer, which will be in port and open for tours throughout the Independence Day weekend. July 2-6. Penn’s Landing, Columbus Boulevard at Market Street, (215) 922-2FUN, delawareriverevents.com
- Philadelphia Orchestra, Phillie Phanatic and Fireworks at Penn’s Landing – The world-famous Philadelphia Orchestra kicks off its free waterside concert with the Phillie Phanatic acting as guest conductor for the first number. After the music, catch dazzling fireworks display presented by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. Free. July 3. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, Columbus Boulevard at Chestnut Street, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Chinatown Block Party – Traditional music, entertainment and, of course, Asian cuisines are the highlights at this neighborhood street festival. Free. July 3. 10th & Arch Streets, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Super Scooper All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream Festival – Forget about calories, and enjoy all-you-can-eat buffet of the coolest summer treat. Participants’ $5 donations will benefit the Joshua Kahan Fund, helping to find a cure for pediatric leukemia. July 3-5. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, Columbus Boulevard at Chestnut Street, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Happy Birthday America – Every party needs a cake, and this one features complimentary samples of Philly’s classic Tastykakes. Free. July 4. Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market Streets, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Celebration of Freedom – The star-spangled salute to America features honored speakers, like Mayor Michael Nutter, and patriotic ceremonies. Free. July 4. Independence Hall, 5th & Chestnut Streets, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Independence Day Parade – What’s red, white and blue all over? The old-time Fourth of July parade that winds through Historic Philadelphia. Don’t miss Miss America, Salute to the Military, the DC Cowboys Dance Troupe from America’s Got Talent, marching bands, Asian drummers and an attempt by Marine Colonel John Folsam to break the Guinness World Record by high-fiving more than 6,000 hands along the parade route. Free. July 4. Market Street, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Party on the Parkway – Music, dancing, cultural activities, arts and crafts and live entertainment make for an afternoon of family fun. Free admission. July 4. Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 18th & 23rd Streets, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
- Life, Liberty and You Concert and Fireworks – Cap off Independence Day weekend at the nation’s largest free outdoor Fourth of July concert featuring The Roots, the Goo Goo Dolls, “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown, songstress Chrisette Michelle and, of course, an eye-popping, jaw-dropping, light-up-the-sky fireworks display, themed The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Free. July 4. Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 18th & 23rd Streets, (215) 683-2200, welcomeamerica.com
The City’s Post-Fourth Of July Glow:
- Franklin Square keeps the Independence Day festivities going with special activities and games for kids on the Great Lawn. Families can spend the afternoon hopping aboard the carousel and playing a few rounds of Philadelphia Mini Golf. July 5. 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
- Then, hot on the heels of two spectacular seasons, the Philadelphia Phillies are in town the week of July 5. On July 5, fans can enjoy all the hot dogs they want during Dollar Dog Night, and the games on July 8 and 9 feature fireworks. 1 Citizens Bank Way, (215) 463-1000, phillies.com
- Even after the last fireworks have faded, Philadelphia still isn’t done. On July 8, the anniversary celebration of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence includes a live reading and festivities at Independence Hall. After July 12, the tower of the historic building will go behind a decorative scrim for a 14-month restoration. July 8. 5th & Chestnut Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
- Just across the Delaware River, the Battleship New Jersey welcomes visitors to explore America’s most decorated naval ship with tours given by people who served onboard. Open daily for guided and audio tours. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ, (856) 966-1652, battleshipnewjersey.org
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality.
For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit visitphilly.com or uwishunu.com, where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.
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