Philadelphia basically invented independence, so of course we’re going to do the Fourth of July up right. Back in-person (and back on the Parkway for its finale), Philly’s annual Independence Day bonanza kicks off on Juneteenth and runs through (you guessed it) July 4th. You get 16 days of free activities that not only celebrate freedom, but also highlight so much of what Philly has to offer. From free museums to “Go 4th & Learn” educational kids’ activities to events that spotlight our incredible local music and food (hello, Wawa Hoagie Day), it’s all on display and ready for the whole city to enjoy.
But there’s so much to do, it’s almost overwhelming. So, to help you get the most out of the festival’s activities, we’re breaking it down for you. Looking for all the free museum days? Free concerts? Free hoagies?! We’ve got you covered.
Let’s start with the big show because it’s not July 4th without fireworks. Welcome America has not one, but three spectacular displays:
- July 1st, 9 p.m., Cherry Street Pier: Fireworks on the Waterfront (following the “Our America Now” performance)
- July 2nd, 9 p.m., Penn’s Landing: Fireworks on the Waterfront (following a concert by United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own”)
- July 4th, 9:45 p.m., Benjamin Franklin Parkway: Wawa Welcome America Fireworks Spectacular (following the Welcome America concert on the Parkway)
Salute to America Independence Day Parade
The parade follows a new route this year, starting in Old City at 2nd and Market streets, coming around City Hall, and finishing on Broad Street near the Convention Center. It’s a parade, so expect floats, military units, marching bands, dance performances, Miss America, historical characters, and more pomp and circumstance. July 4th, 11 a.m.-noon, starts at 2nd and Market streets.
Block Parties and Community Gatherings
Juneteenth Block Party at the African American Museum in Philadelphia
Welcome America kicks off with this daylong, all-ages party that features live performances — including Talib Kweli, step-dancers, and griot storytellers — as well as food trucks, a community marketplace featuring Black-owned businesses, art-making, line dancing, and more. Plus, AAMP will offer free admission all day (online registration required). June 19th, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street.
Philly @ the Movies: Rocky
A Welcome America tradition. Bring your own blanket and gather on the Art Museum steps for a screening of the iconic classic. June 23rd, 7-9 p.m., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Avenue of the Arts Block Party
This party has everything. Live performances, dance lessons, art-making, food trucks, a zip-line across Broad Street … Wait, what? That’s right, in addition to the Kimmel Center hosting live performances from their upcoming Broadway series (including Moulin Rouge), this party also involves the opportunity for you to slide down a 120-foot slide or zip across a 100-foot zip-line! Plus, participate in chalk art with Mural Arts Philadelphia, take a Lion King dance workshop with teaching artists from Disney Theatrical Group, and enjoy additional live performances by Bill Jolly, Rated Art, and Zo featuring lead singer Gina Castanzo from NBC’s The Voice. June 25th, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Broad Street between Locust & Pine streets and Spruce Street between 15th & Juniper streets.
Wawa Hoagie Day
The best day of the year! Is that too much of an exaggeration? We don’t think so. Seven tons of free Wawa hoagies will be served at noon on Independence Mall, along with a performance by Six String Soldiers of The U.S. Army String Band. When you’re done eating your hoagie, head across the lawn to the National Constitution Center, which conveniently has free admission that day. June 29th, noon-2 p.m., Independence Mall.
Party on the Parkway
The grand finale of Welcome America is a full day of celebration on the Parkway, including plenty of food, two stages of live performances, and more entertainment. There will also be a Kids Zone with fun activities and book giveaways. Stick around after the party for the free concert and fireworks display over the Art Museum. July 4th, noon-7 p.m., Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
More Community Gatherings
Fishtown Pool Ribbon Cutting and Block Party
Swimmo is reopening after six years! The Fishtown Rec pool has been completely redone (plus there’s a sprayground and public art on site), so take an inaugural dip, and stick around for live entertainment, games, food trucks, and giveaways. June 21st, 3-7 p.m., Fishtown Rec Center, 1235 East Palmer Street.
Einstein Healthcare Network Community Day
Einstein hosts a free afternoon of family fun at Cherashore Playground including free-to-play game trucks from House of Gamez, entertainment, food giveaways, and local vendors. June 22nd, 4-7 p.m., 851 West Olney Avenue.
Motivation Monday Presented By IBX
Independence Blue Cross hosts a free wellness event at the new Oval XP space. Participate in free fitness classes, explore local wellness offerings, and enter to win giveaways. Classes include Zumbini with Alyssa Gentes, HIIT Training with Osayi Osunde from Fit Academy, Yoga with Mariel Freeman and DJ Abby Klein from Three Queens, and a Meditation Session with Jade Javon. June 27th, 4-9 p.m., Eakins Oval.
Red, White & Blueprint
America’s 250th birthday is coming up, and PHILADELPHIA250 wants your help planning the party. The event at Smith Memorial Playground will feature live music, kid-friendly activities, 250th idea collection and more. June 28th, 10 a.m.-noon, Smith Memorial Playground, 3500 Reservoir Drive.
Concerts and Performances
Army Field Band on Independence
The U.S. Army Field Band presents “America the Beautiful,” a musical performance that honors our country and its veterans. Bring your own chairs and blankets. The concert starts at 7 p.m., but come early because starting at 5 p.m., the Bourse will have food vendors on 5th Street between Market and Chestnut, and you can also catch a performance by Rev. R2 and Da’ Crew. June 24th, 7-9 p.m., Independence Mall.
Gospel on Independence
Bring chairs or blankets for Ode to Freedom, an evening of joyful music hosted by WDAS’ Patty Jackson. Yolanda Yvette Adams, alongside the Welcome America Mass Choir featuring churches from all across the city, sing in honor of Harriet Tubman’s 200th birthday. Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so bring your own blanket (or chair). The Bourse will again be out there at 5 p.m. with food, so your dinner plans are made. June 26th, 7-9 p.m., Independence Mall.
Summer Solstice White Party at AAMP
Barbara Sheree hosts a night of live music, performance and improv. Enjoy food and wine as a full band and a live DJ play the classics. June 30th, 7-11 p.m., The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street.
Our America Now: Expressions of Freedom
More an “immersive experience” than a straightforward performance, artists from Olive Dance Theatre and We The People Stage will use spoken word, dance and song to tell “personal and historical stories rooted in passionate expressions of freedom.” This event will also have DJs, food trucks, and interactive activities, and will be followed by fireworks on the Delaware River Waterfront at 9 p.m. July 1st, 6-10 p.m., Cherry Street Pier, 121 North Columbus Boulevard.
Celebration of Community and Culture at Esperanza
The day kicks off with a block party featuring Latin food, music, and vendors. Then, head inside the Esperanza Arts Center for performances by Argentinian pianist Emiliano Messiez and his quartet, and performances and dance lessons with members of the Philadelphia Argentine Tango School. July 2nd, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Esperanza Arts Center, 4261 North 5th Street.
Pershing’s Own Concert (and Waterfront Fireworks)
Gather at Penn’s Landing for a concert of old standards, new hits, and patriotic tunes by the U.S. Army’s band, followed by a spectacular fireworks display above the Delaware River. July 2nd, 7-9 p.m., Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing.
POPS on Independence
This concert is a Philadelphia tradition (going on 44 years!) enjoyed by 15,000 attendees each year. The Philly POPS orchestra will perform a patriotic, entertaining show featuring singer and songwriter Ryan Shaw. Bring your own chairs and blankets. Starting at 5 p.m., the Bourse will bring entertainment, food, and fun outside the food hall. July 3rd, 7-9 p.m., Independence Mall.
Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert
It all culminates in the big headline concert on the Parkway, this year featuring Jason Derulo, Tori Kelly, and Ava Max. The celebrations continue with a dazzling fireworks display set to music by DJ Ghost and Q102. You can also watch live on NBC10 and TeleXitos. July 4th, 7-10 p.m., Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Go 4th and Learn (Kids’ Educational Activities)
Sports, STEM, Music and More
Come to University City for a morning of sports fitness and educational activities for kids. Kids who want to be active can play soccer with the Philadelphia Union, or drum to the beat with the West Powelton Steppers and Sixers Stixers. As for the STEM part of the day, there will be hands-on experiences from the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia Insectarium & Butterfly Pavilion, and Penn Food and Wellness Collaborative. Kids can also get creative with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and listen to a story from the Free Library. June 22nd, 10 a.m.-noon, 31st and Walnut streets (lower level).
A Cultural Journey at Franklin Square
Welcome America overlaps with the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival, so come to the grounds for free to see the colorful, larger-than-life installations and even learn about lantern-making with the Asian Arts Initiative. The morning will also feature performances, storytelling, a tai chi class, face-painting, and more. June 28th, 10 a.m.-noon, Franklin Square, 6th and Race streets.
A Great Debate
Kids can learn about the early days of our nation at Independence National Historical Park with storytelling and historic re-enactors. June 30th, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Independence National Park.
Free Museum Days
And finally, it wouldn’t be Wawa Welcome America without the opportunity to explore dozens of our museums for free! Every day of the festival, at least one cultural institution opens its doors to guests. Some of them, keen readers may notice, are always free, but they still want to get in on the celebration, so good for them! Anyway, here’s the schedule:
- Sunday, June 19th: The African American Museum in Philadelphia
- Monday, June 20th: Historic Rittenhouse Town
- Tuesday, June 21st: Wagner Free Institute of Science and Museum of Illusions
- Wednesday, June 22nd: Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center (daytime) and Eastern State Penitentiary (evening)
- Thursday, June 23rd: Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum and PAFA
- Friday, June 24th: Masonic Temple and Rodin Museum
- Saturday, June 25th: Arch Street Meeting House, Johnson House Historic Site, and Paul Robeson House & Museum
- Sunday, June 26th: Neon Museum of Philadelphia
- Monday, June 27th: Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion
- Tuesday, June 28th: Mütter Museum
- Wednesday, June 29th: National Constitution Center
- Thursday, June 30th: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, American Swedish Historical Museum, and Wyck Historic House
- Friday, July 1st: Penn Museum, Faith & Liberty Discovery Center, Rodin Museum, and Powell House
- Saturday, July 2nd: National Liberty Museum and Stenton
- Sunday, July 3rd: Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation (both host family-friendly festivals that day, as well, so you may need to pre-regsiter)
- Monday, July 4th: Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History and Christ Church and Burial Ground
Source: Philadelphia Magazine