America is about to celebrate its 234th birthday. If you’re still looking for ways to help ring in her big day, you’ve got plenty of options. Go big with a day of music, festivities, and fireworks on the National Mall. Keep it low-key with a neighborhood parade. Pay tribute as you enjoy America’s favorite pastime. For details and more ideas, read on. However you and your family spend the day, have a fun and safe Independence Day!
National Independence Day Parade
Every good holiday has a parade in DC, and July 4th is no exception. Hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to line the Constitution Avenue sidewalks to watch the procession celebrating Independence Day makes its way from 7th to 17th Streets. Marching bands, floats, giant balloons, equestrian groups, drill teams, military units, will be among the pageantry. The festivities begin at 11:45am, but with the masses coming to watch, it’s best to get there early to get a good view. Free to the public.
Concerts and Fireworks on the National Mall
After the parade (even earlier for some), folks will begin staking out spots on the National Mall for a day of July 4th festivities—picnics, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, concerts, and the granddaddy of grand finales – the spectacular fireworks display. A variety of Festival events will be taking place throughout the day—see the schedule for specifics. The music begins at 6pm when the U.S. Navy band kicks off the concert at the Washington Monument grounds, followed by a National Park Service presentation, then the Navy Band Commodores Jazz ensemble performing with special guest Jane Monheit. Down at the opposite end of the Mall, on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, A Capitol Fourth Concert, which airs live on PBS, will feature Reba McEntire, Gladys Knight, Darius Rucker, David Archuleta, the National Symphony Orchestra, and more exciting performers. The show begins at 8pm, but gates open at 3pm. Finally, the sky over the Washington Monument will explode with color when the amazing fireworks show begins at 9:15pm.
An American Celebration at Mount Vernon
If you don’t feel like dealing with the crowds on the Mall and want to join a unique celebration, head to Mount Vernon for their American Celebration. From 8am – 5pm, guests can take part in a variety of Independence Day events—wreath laying and naturalization ceremonies, music by the National Concert Band of America and the First Virginia Regimen, a giant birthday cake, and a dazzling smoke fireworks display over the Potomac River. There will also be a chance to meet the first “first couple,” General and Mrs. Washington. Admission to Mt. Vernon $15/adults, $7/kids ages 6-11, and free for kids 5 and under.
National vs. Mets
It’s one of America’s greatest pastimes, so what better way to celebrate the nation’s birthday than with a July 4th baseball game. (It’s also a fantastic excuse to avoid the crowds downtown). The Nats play the Mets on Sunday, part of a four-game series that begins today, July 1. And Sunday is a Family Fun Day, which means special Family Fun Packs are available, guests can arrive early for an autograph session with some of the players, and children can loop the infield during Kids Run the Bases following the game. Visit the Nationals website for more info and to purchase tickets.
8th Annual Capitol Hill Parade
Some of the neighborhoods around town are celebrating on a smaller scale, including Capitol Hill. The community parade will begin being at 10am at 8th & I Streets SE, making its way around the neighborhood and ending at Eastern Market Metro plaza. Hang out in the area after for a Family Festival—Naval Lodge No. 4 is hosting food and fun from 11am – 4pm at 335 Eighth St. SE (where the Eastern Market Flea Market takes place). Admission is free.
Concert in the Park featuring Son of the Beach
The Citizens Association of Georgetown is hosting the last of the series at Volta Park on July 4. Festivities start with a parade around the neighborhood at 4:30pm, followed by music from Son of the Beach and fun and games for the whole family—tug ‘o war, water balloon tossing, pie-eating contests, cookie decorating, and more. Admission is free. The park is located at 34th Street and Volta Place NW.