The Fourth of July brings American’s favorite birthday celebrations

Posted June 30, 2016 by Brian Keaney in Downtown Boston
Boston Fireworks

In the city that gave birth to the American experiment, it should come as no surprise that the largest Fourth of July celebration in the country is held in Boston. The days long celebration kicks off with HarborFest Opening Ceremonies on July 1st, and continues through the fireworks and concert at the Hatch Shell on the Monday night. In between, there will be more than 100 activities, events, and specials for all to enjoy.

The 215th Army Band will play at the Opening Ceremonies as dignitaries from across the city cut the official Boston Harborfest cake. The Navy will also get in on the action when the USS Mesa Verde visits the North Jetty in the Seaport District. That evening, a family friendly movie will screen at Christopher Columbus Park in the North End.

Saturday brings local artists to display and sell their works, also at Christopher Columbus Park. Sailors will decorate their boats in the finest of red, white, and blue that evening and light up the harbor. The live music on Long Wharf will be followed by a fireworks demonstration sure to delight young and old alike.

Restaurants up and down the waterfront take their turn on Long Wharf on Sunday, bringing their tastiest fare for the Taste of Harborfest. Those who indulge in the culinary offerings of some of Boston’s finest dining establishments will also be regaled with live entertainment.

The highlight of the weekend, however, is the Boston Pops concert and fireworks spectacular at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. More than half a million patriotic Americans cram onto the banks of the Charles River for a celebration unrivaled anywhere in the United States. Performing with the Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart this year will be pop stars Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas, and the country group Little Big Town.

Gates open for the event at 9 a.m., and attendees are given a wrist band that allows them free passage in and out of the secured area all day.  Bag checks will be conducted, and no alcholic beverages, glass, tarps or blankets larger than 10′ by 10′, or sharp objects will be allowed into the area. Backpacks and coolers on wheels are also prohibited.

For those who can’t get to the Hatch Shell early enough to secure a space for themselves, speakers will be set up along both the Boston and Cambridge side of the river allowing all to enjoy the concert. Everyone in the general vicinity should be able to hear the cannon fire and church bells during the War of 1812 Overture, a perennial favorite.

Crowds typically become established by 4:30 p.m., and are nearly impassable by 6:30 p.m. The concert begins at 8:30 p.m., and the first firework in the 30 minute show is lit at 10:30 p.m.

Both Memorial Drive and Sturrow Drive are closed to motor vehicles, so walking or traveling by T is encouraged. On the Boston side of the river, the closest stations are Charles-MGH on the Red Line and Arlington Street on the Green Line. Those coming from Cambridge or points north may want to exit at Kendall Square on the Red Line.

If half a million people is simply too large of a crowd to manage, about one-tenth of that number attends the fireworks-free rehearsal on July 3rd at 8:30.  And, if you would prefer to watch and listen from the comfort of your own home, the whole extravangaza will be aired on Channel 4 beginning at 8 p.m. on Monday night.