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 (and 2nd & 3rd!). Here are details on a bunch of them. Happy Independence Day!
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).
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 an 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 1-3)
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 Marlins is part of the Patriotic Series, when the Nats wear their red, white, and blue, and there are other Independence Day themed activities. And, FYI, the series with the Marlins starts July 1, 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
After two years, A Capitol Fourth, the annual Independence Day concert that airs live on PBS, will once again be open to the public! Grammy nominee Mickey Guyton will be hosting this year’s show, which will include performances by Gloria Gaynor, Andy Grammar, Keb’ Mo’, Daniel Criss, Rachel Platten, 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. Get 20% off tickets with the code FBSUMMER. 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, 7-10pm
Celebrate 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.
Fireworks Watch Party
Where: Victura Park | Kennedy Center, DC
When: July 4, 10am – end of fireworks
Victura Park, the lovely outdoor area at The REACH at the Kennedy Center, will be open on July 4th to celebrate the day — and offer a great vantage point for watching the fireworks on the National Mall. Food and drinks will be available from the cafe, or you can BYO and enjoy at the picnic tables set up in the wine & beer garden area. Admission if free, and no tickets are necessary.
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 good 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.
* July 4th specials in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.
* For more activities during the days leading up to the 4th, see the KFDC Summer Guide.
* For more July 4th events in NoVa, this article lists a bunch.