The 36th annual Boston HarborFest is the largest Fourth of July festival in the country. Celebrations kick off on June 30th with hundreds of family-friendly activities over Independence Day weekend at Boston’s most famous landmarks. Festivities will include a screening of Yankee Doodle Dandy, a warm welcoming of the Navy on the USS Messa Verde and Revolutionary War reenactments. From free events to specially planned tours, the packed schedule is overflowing wth family-friendly activities for every budget.
Charles River Fireworks Display
A stunning, colorful fireworks display will take place at 10:30 p.m. from a number of massive barges floating in the middle of the Charles River. Grab a spot anywhere along Memorial Drive on the Cambridge side of the river or Harvard Bridge for the most Instagram-worthy shots.
Flag-Raising Ceremony and Parade
Kick off July 4th by attending the flag-raising ceremony at City Hall Plaza. A parade will follow shortly after and go to the Granary Burying Ground, where the graves of the three signers of the Declaration of Independence—Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine—and other notable patriots will receive wreaths.
Boston Pops Concert
The Boston Pops Firework Spectacular entertains thousands on the banks of the Charles River with music and entertainment. The Boston Pops’ will perform Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture this Independence Day in Boston, with Keith Lockhart conducting the orchestra at Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. This year, Hamilton star Leslie Odom, Jr. will join musicians Andy Grammer and Melissa Etheridge in headlining the concert. Seating is free for this event, but make yourself comfortable early on in the day for the best view.
Summer in the City
The Boston Harbor Hotel’s summer-long entertainment series provides visitors and locals alike a venue to enjoy the New England summer at the waterfront. This annual event offers free live music every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and a free movie screening every Friday night. As the sun sets over the harbor and the harbor comes alive, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 439 7000
Reading of the Declaration of Independence
Visitors can attend a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the balcony of the Old State House on July 4th. This reenactment will take visitors back in time to July 18, 1776, and they will hear it just as citizens did on that historic day.
Enjoy free beer samples at the Samuel Adams Independence Bash hosted at Ned Devine’s in Faneuil Hall, also known as the Cradle of Liberty. Craft brews and Sam Classics will be available to sample, accompanied by live music by Sparks the Rescue. There’s even a chance to win a VIP Samuel Adams Brewery Tour and Red Sox home game tickets. This event is a registered one for ages 21 and up.
Ned Devine’s, 1 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 248 8800
USS Constitution Cruise
The USS Constitution, otherwise known as “Old Ironsides,” is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. She leaves her berth as a floating museum every year to fire her cannons in the Boston Harbor for the July 4th celebrations. She is currently docked for repairs until 2018, but the 45-minute tour brings you up close and personal with the famous ship at her home in the Charlestown Navy Yard, where visitors can learn about the history of this vessel and her many wartime adventures.
Amazing Scavenger Hunt Boston
This hunt across Boston combines the excitement of The Amazing Race and a three-hour city tour. Teams make their way through well-known sites, solving clues and completing challenges, all guided from any smartphone. There is not a time limit for this hunt, and you might even learn a thing or two.
Picnic at the Boston Harbor Islands
Want to get away from the holiday crowds? Pack sunblock, your bathing suit, and picnic basket, and make your way over to any of the Boston Harbor Islands. It comprises 32 islands and two peninsulas sprinkled with historic lighthouses, hiking trails, and bird-watching. You can even find guided tours conducted by park rangers. The Harbor Island ferry cruises take you to any of these islands, and whichever one you choose, you’re sure to have an adventure you won’t soon forget.