It’s no surprise that Philadelphia — the birthplace of our nation — throws a pretty awesome bash for America’s birthday every year.
For six days, the Wawa Welcome America festival (June 29-July 4) brings more than 50 free, fabulous events to Philadelphia in celebration of July 4th.
Visitors and residents of the City of Brotherly Love can catch three major fireworks shows, free outdoor concerts from local and national acts, outdoor festivals and block parties, free entry to local museums and attractions, a parade and so much more this year for America’s 243rd birthday.
Read on for the top ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in Philadelphia.
Watch a Spectacular Fireworks Show
It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without brilliant fireworks! Philly hosts three impressively huge displays during Wawa Welcome America this year. Two shows light up Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River waterfront following free patriotic concerts on June 29 (U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Concert) and July 1 (U.S. Army Field Band Concert), and the third — the grand finale of the festival — blazes in the sky on July 4th above the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Celebrate at the Party on the Parkway and the July 4th Concert
Revelers flock to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on July 4th for the Party on the Parkway, a day-long block party offering family-fun activities, food trucks, live performances, games, beer gardens and more. Stick around for a massive free concert — headlined by Jennifer Hudson and Meghan Trainor! — followed by an epic fireworks show.
Stroll Around Philadelphia’s Historic District Block Party
This free, seven-hour-long, classic Philly street celebration returns to Independence Mall for year five with dozens of food trucks, pop-up performances, a kids’ fun zone and plenty of history to take in.
Score Free or Pay-What-You-Wish Admission to 22 Philly Museums and Attractions
From June 29 through July 4, 22 of Philly’s best museums and attractions offer free or pay-what-you-wish entry for Wawa Welcome America. Explore the Museum of the American Revolution (July 1), the African American Museum in Philadelphia (July 2), the Mütter Museum (July 3) and 19 other museums and attractions citywide for free (or a donation of your choosing) in celebration of the nation’s birthday.
Catch Free Outdoor Movie Screenings
Where better to catch the Philly-favorite classic Rocky than on the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (June 30)? Three other free movie screenings — Invincible (July 1), Shrek (July 2) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (July 3) — go down at outdoor venues all across Philly throughout Wawa Welcome America. For even more outdoor movie screenings over the Fourth and beyond, check out this guide.
Attend Patriotic Ceremonies in Philadelphia’s Historic District
On July 4th, a couple of moving ceremonies take place at locations in Philadelphia’s Historic District. The Celebration of Freedom Ceremony attracts crowds to Independence Hall for a patriotic presentation featuring special guests, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, music from the Philly POPS Big Band and more (10-11 a.m.). Over at the Betsy Ross House courtyard, visitors are invited to witness 13 children from across the nation officially become American citizens at a special Children’s Naturalization Ceremony (1:30-2:30 p.m.).
Check Out the Salute to America Independence Day Parade
Dozens of colorful floats, marching bands, military groups and more than 4,000 participants promenade from Independence Hall through the streets of Philadelphia’s Historic District at the marvelous Salute to America Independence Day Parade. Parade-goers should keep an eye out for the Visit Philadelphia-sponsored float inspired by Philadelphia’s connections to the LGBTQ rights movement and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
Chow Down on Free Hoagies, Cake and More
A number of extra-tasty events take place during Wawa Welcome America. First up is the Philly Ice Cream Scoop, where 14 of Philadelphia’s top ice cream makers scoop their chilly confections for visitors at Reading Terminal Market (June 29; treats are pay-as-you-go). Later in the week, visitors can score free hoagies on the lawn of the National Constitution Center during Wawa Hoagie Day (July 2), and free birthday cake and cupcakes courtesy of Termini Brothers Bakery at the Independence Visitor Center’s birthday party for America (July 4).
Enjoy Live Music at Free Concerts and Performances
Visitors have plenty of opportunities to hear free live music during Wawa Welcome America. There are two free concerts on Independence Mall in front of Independence Hall this year: a soulful gospel concert (June 30) and a patriotic performance by the Philly POPS (July 3). Visitors can also enjoy a sneak peek of the Kimmel Center’s 2019/2020 season at the free Great American Party on the Plaza, featuring free performances from Broadway casts, the U.S. Navy Cruisers and more talent (July 2). Then, on the Fourth of July, the blockbuster Wawa Welcome America concertfeaturing Jennifer Hudson and Meghan Trainor rocks the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Spend Time With Family at Kid-Friendly Events and Programs
Many Wawa Welcome America events are geared toward children, like the Go 4th & Learn series presented by PECO. Go 4th & Learn events through the holiday week aim to promote children’s reading, education, healthy living and community service. Also: Families can swing by Haddington Library, Lawncrest Library, Logan Libraryand Whitman Library for afternoon reading events featuring kid-friendly activities, guest readers and book giveaways (July 1).