Philadelphia’s Classic Fourth of July Celebration Turns 25

Welcome America turns 25 this year, and Philadelphia is planning a six-day Independence Day festival to celebrate. As always, a birthday party of this magnitude can take place only in the United States’ birthplace—Philly. From June 29 through July 4, 2017, Wawa Welcome America! includes four spectacular fireworks shows, a bigger Historic District Block Party, a delicious Wawa Hoagie Day and a huge July 4th concert—this time, starring Mary J. Blige. Also on the docket: Free Museum Days, outdoor movies—including Rocky on the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps—and new alfresco happy hours.

Photo by R. Myers for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

To take in all the patriotic fun, locals and visitors are encouraged to spend a night or two in the city. The best way to do that is to book the perks-packed Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, which always comes with the freedom to park free of charge. It’s available at visitphilly.com/hotel-package.

Fireworks & Concert Combos:

  • Philadelphia Orchestra Concert and Fireworks – Those more-fabulous-than-ever Philadelphians return to Penn’s Landing for their 10th annual free Wawa Welcome America concert punctuated by fireworks over the Delaware River. Concert at 8 p.m., fireworks at 9:30 p.m., Friday, June 30. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 629-3200, delawareriverwaterfront.com
  • Pershing’s Own Concert and Fireworks – The United States Army Band returns to the Delaware River Waterfront for a rousing free concert of patriotic tunes, followed by patriotic pyrotechnics. Concert at 8 p.m., fireworks at 9:30 p.m., Saturday, July 1. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 629-3200, delawareriverwaterfront.com
  • Party on the Parkway – The finale to the six-day festival is a daylong outdoor celebration featuring city blocks of family fun—including a 1 p.m. concert by KIDZ BOP Kids—a 7 p.m. concert by the Philly POPS!, Hamilton’s Mandy Gonzalez, jazz vocalist Tony DeSare, Philly’s own R&B hit-makers Boyz II Men and the one and only Mary J. Blige. The finale’s finale: 9:30 p.m. fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Noon-10 p.m., Tuesday, July 4. 26th Street & the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com

Fireworks Only:

  • Freedom Festival Fireworks – Just across the Delaware River, Camden, New Jersey sets off its own set of lights in the sky, simultaneous to the ones going off over the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 9:30-10 p.m., Tuesday, July 4. Wiggins Park, 1 Riverside Drive, camdenwaterfront.com

Concerts Only:

  • Philly POPS! on Independence – Philly’s beloved popular players invite fans to BYOB (bring-your-own-blanket) for a swinging concert of patriotic tunes with Independence Hall as the backdrop. 7 p.m., Monday, July 3. 5th & 6th Streets and between Market & Chestnut Streets, (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com

Philly Classics:

  • Wawa Hoagie Day – There is such a thing as a free lunch—a free piece of a six-ton hoagie, that is—when the festival sponsor and beloved Pennsylvania-based convenience store offers slices of one epic sandwich on Independence Mall. Noon-2 p.m., Thursday, June 29. Between 5th & 6th Streets and Chestnut & Arch Streets, (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com
  • Rocky screening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art – The 1976 Academy Award-winner screens by the steps where the magic first happened. 6:30-8:30 p.m., Sunday, July 2. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com
  • Philadelphia’s Historic District Block Party – This free, seven-hour-long, main street-style celebration returns for its second year. Two stages feature American music—fife and drum, Dixieland jazz, barbershop quartet and Broadway—with plenty of modern sounds and historic reenactments. There will be pop-up parades, make-and-take crafts, old-fashioned sack and wheelbarrow races, blocks of famous Philly food trucks, crafts for sale, police and fire vehicles and more. Noon-7 p.m., Monday, July 3. Between 5th & 6th Streets and Chestnut & Arch Streets, (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com
  • Celebration of Freedom Ceremony – The day’s kickoff begins at Independence Hall during a patriotic presentation. Honorees this year include Philly’s own Boyz II Men. As always, the morning includes a reading of the Declaration of Independence, followed by music and remarks. 10-11 a.m., Tuesday, July 4. 6th & Chestnut Streets, (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com
  • United States of America’s Independence Day Parade – This big-city event with a small-town feel features dozens of colorful floats, marching bands, military groups and more than 6,000 participants from across the nation form a musical, colorful cavalcade winding through the streets of Historic District. 11 a.m.-noon, Tuesday, July 4. Start at 5th & Chestnut Streets, west on Chestnut Street to 9th Street, north on 9th Street, east on Market Street to Front Street, south on Front Street, ending at Front & Chestnut Streets, (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com

Happy Hours:

  • Culture on Tap at City Hall Courtyard ­– A pop-up beer garden that’s family friendly transforms Center City’s centermost historic site. 4-9 p.m., Thursday, June 29. Broad & Market Streets, (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com
  • Red, White & Blue Happy Hour – The week winds down and weekend winds up with patriotic happy hour celebrations that stretch from the Delaware River (Moshulu) to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (Capriccio at Cafe Cret). 4-7 p.m., Friday, June 30. Various locations, (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com

Free Museum Days:

Five days of the festival, major Philly attractions offer free entry. Here are the where and the when:

  • National Constitution Center – 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Thursday, June 29. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6600, constitutioncenter.org
  • Penn Museum – 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday, June 30. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, penn.museum
  • Eastern State Penitentiary – 5-8 p.m., Friday, June 30. 2027 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 236-3300, easternstate.org
  • African American Museum in Philadelphia – 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, July 1. 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380, aampmuseum.org
  • One Liberty Observation Deck – 8-11 a.m., Saturday, July 1. 1650 Market Street, 57th floor, (215) 561-3325, phillyfromthetop.com
  • The Barnes Foundation – 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, July 2. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7200, barnesfoundation.org
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art – 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, July 2. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
  • National Liberty Museum – 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday, July 3. 321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800, libertymuseum.org
  • National Museum of American Jewish History – 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday, July 4. 101 S. Independence Mall E., (215) 923-3811, nmajh.org
  • Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent – 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 4. 15 S. 7th Street, (215) 685-4830, philadelphiahistory.org

Wawa Welcome America! Calendar of Events:

  • Thursday, June 29:
    Wawa Hoagie Day, Independence Mall
    Culture on Tap at City Hall Courtyard, City Hall
  • Friday, June 30:
    Red, White & Blue Happy Hour, various locations
    Philadelphia Orchestra Concert and Fireworks, Penn’s Landing
  • Saturday, July 1:
    Pershing’s Own Concert and Fireworks, Penn’s Landing
  • Sunday, July 2:
    Rocky, Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Monday, July 3:
    Philadelphia’s Historic District Block Party, Independence Mall
    POPS! on Independence, Independence Hall
  • Tuesday, July 4:
    Celebration of Freedom Ceremony, Independence Hall
    Independence Day Parade, Historic District
    Party on the Parkway, Benjamin Franklin Parkway
    Freedom Festival Fireworks, Camden, N
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