What better place to celebrate Independence Day than in our nation’s capital? This is where the actual Declaration of Independence is housed (and will be read!), and celebrations take place among some of the country’s most iconic landmarks. But the excitement doesn’t stop there. From fireworks over the city and concerts at the Capitol to special events at George Washington’s house to neighborhood parades and ballpark fun, there are loads of ways to revel on July 4th. Here are details on a bunch of them. Happy Independence Day!
July 3rd Jam
Where: Yards Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: July 3, 5:30-8:30pm
Join a pre-Independence Day celebration at the waterfront destination! Free and open to the public, the Yards Park boardwalk will host the Capitol Riverfront BID’s first ever July 3rd Jam in conjunction with the National Museum of the United States Navy to honor America’s Birthday. Enjoy outdoor activities and live music leading up to a performance from the U.S. Navy Band Commodores at 7pm. Stick around Yards Park to watch the Washington Nationals Freedom Fireworks following the baseball game. RSVP here.
National Independence Day Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue NW, 7th-17th Streets | DC
When: July 4, 11:45am
Many national holidays get a parade in DC, and July 4th is no exception. Scores of spectators always line the Constitution Avenue sidewalks to watch the procession celebrating Independence Day as it make its way from 7th to 17th Street. Marching bands, floats, giant balloons, equestrian groups, drill teams, and military units will be among the pageantry. Stake out your spot along the route early, as this event attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers every year.
Fourth of July Celebration on the Mall
Where: National Mall, DC
When: July 4, all day (and evening)
After the parade (even earlier for some), the National Mall will begin filling up for a day of July 4th festivities — the Smithsonian Folklife Festival from 7th to 12th Streets, Junior Ranger activities, concerts, and more. And the grand finale of it all: Shortly after 9pm, the sky above will explode with color when the amazing iconic fireworks display begins. Fireworks will be launched from the Reflecting Pool area, so stake out a spot to watch them — on or off the Mall (see tips below for a list of places to view them).
O Say Can You Play
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: Saturday, 11am – 1pm
Admission: $10-15/child, $5/adult
This family-friendly outdoor program is perfect for kiddos to celebrate Independence Day a little early. Play traditional outdoor games and make a historic toy to bring home before sneaking a peek at rarely displayed objects from the Tudor Place Collection. Make a day of it and bring a picnic to enjoy in the garden after the program.
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through July 17
Perfect timing for this musical at the Kennedy Center that brings a new take on Independence Day… This production of the Tony Award–winning musical reexamines a pivotal moment in American history with a cast that reflects multiple representations of race, gender, and ethnicity.
Fourth of July at the Archives
Where: National Archives | National Mall, DC
When: July 4, 9am – 4pm
Catch the annual dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the National Archives . It starts at 10am, but doors open at 9am. Get there early to get a good seat and enjoy entertainment by the Experience Band and Show. After that, celebrate like it’s 1776! There ill be lots of fun family activities,…meet the Founding Mothers and Fathers, design your own buttons, go on a scavenger hunt, help design the National Archives Building, and sign the Declaration of Independence yourself!
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: July 4, 11:05am (and July 3)
Admission: Ticket prices vary
A day at the ballpark is about as all-American as it gets when it comes to sports, and you can experience it and celebrate the holiday at Nationals Park. The July 4th game against the Reds is part of the Patriotic Series, when the Nats wear their red, white, and blue, and there will be a American flag sunglasses giveaway for the first 10,000 fans. And, FYI, the evening of July 3, and there will be post-game Freedom Fireworks, plus more promos for the rest of the games. Before you purchase tickets, be sure to check this post for tips to save on a Nats game.
A Capitol Fourth
Where: West Lawn on the Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: July 4, 8pm; gates open at 3pm
The annual Independence Day concert at the Capitol airs live on PBS, but you can see the musical pageantry in person. Alfonso Rabiro will be hosting this year’s show, which will include performances by Boyz 2 Men, Chicago, Belinda Carlisle, Babyface, the National Symphony Orchestra, the U.S. Army Band, the Joint Armed Forces Chorus, and many more exciting acts. (KFDC Tip: Enjoy the show with less crowds at the dress rehearsal on July 3 – same time and place!)
An American Celebration
Where: Mount Vernon | Mount Vernon, VA
When: July 4, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $26/adult, $13/age 6-11, free/5 & under
The home of George Washington salutes the first commander-in-chief with a dazzling display of made-for-daytime fireworks during its annual Independence Day event. Visitors will be treated to spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors fired over the Potomac River. The event also includes an inspirational naturalization ceremony for new citizens, military reenactments, a special wreathlaying ceremony, a performance by the National concert band and more live entertainment, and a chance to meet General Washington himself. See the full schedule of events here and read more about Mount Vernon here.
Fourth at the Wharf
Where: The District Wharf | Southwest DC
When: July 4, 5-10pm
Enjoy the Fourth of July at The Wharf with a free celebration on District Pier. The celebration includes music, a bar for adults, and spectacular views of the annual fireworks launched from the National Mall. They also offer a VIP fireworks viewing experience benefitting the USO that gives you exclusive access to the Dockmaster Building on the tip of District Pie, complete with two complimentary drink tickets (additional beverages for purchase), all-American light fare, DJ, games, photo station, and a raffle. Read more about The Wharf in this KFDC post.
Neighborhood Parades & Celebrations
Where: Throughout the DMV
When: Most on July 4, times vary
Keep it close to home at a community celebration. You likely are aware of July 4th events taking place in your neighborhood or nearby, but if you’re still looking for a hyperlocal fête, here are some that are known to be good ones: Capitol Hill (we can vouch it’s great from many years attending), Palisades, Takoma Park, College Park, Great Falls, McLean.
July 4th Celebration
Where: Armed Forces Retirement Home | Petworth, DC
When: July 4, 4-9:30pm
All are welcome to join the 10th annual July 4th Celebration at the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Enjoy live entertainment, bouncy fun, a kids’ scooter parade and contest, activities for all ages, and views of the evening fireworks on the National Mall. Concessions will also be for sale and plentiful.
Great Meadow Independence Day Celebration
Where: Great Meadow | The Plains, VA
When: July 2, 5pm
Great Meadow, a 74-acre park and home of the Virginia Gold Cup races, is bringing back its famous fireworks show and activities for the 34th year a couple of days ahead of the 4th. Join for family games like cornhole toss, sack races, face painting, tug-of war, and more. The Flying Circus will provide an exciting air show, and there will be polo exhibitions along with hat and tailgate competitions with prizes for the most creative. Bring a picnic or purchase food on site — there will be food trucks and a beer garden. A spectacular fireworks display gets underway at dusk. BYO blankets and chairs for comfortable viewing (no umbrellas or tents, unless in reserved tailgate spaces.)
July 4th Fest
Where: Six Flags | Bowie, MD
When: July 2-4
Admission: Starts at $35
With amusement park fun thrown into the mix, Six Flags’ celebration will be pretty epic for kids. Along with all of the ongoing fun throughout the venue, there will also be fireworks, music, and lots of Coca Cola (sponsors of the event) on Independence Day and two days leading up to the holiday.
More July 4th Tips!
* Find off-the-Mall suggestions for viewing the fireworks in this Washingtonian article.
* If you’re headed into DC, take public transportation! Cannot stress enough what a bad idea it would be to drive.
* Eater DC has a round-up of restaurants celebrating July 4th.
* For more activities during the days leading up to the 4th, see the KFDC Summer Guide.