The ultimate guide to Fourth of July activities in Northwest Philadelphia

 A scene from last year's Fourth of July celebration at Water Town Recreation Center. (Jana Shea/for NewsWorks)

A scene from last year's Fourth of July celebration at Water Town Recreation Center. (Jana Shea/for NewsWorks)

To celebrate America’s 237th birthday this Fourth of July, Northwest Philadelphia has a bevy of patriotic events for people of all ages. The area will host parades, historic tours and a hike to Independence Hall.

Here’s the NewsWorks guide to the best Independence Day events in the Northwest.


Family fun in Chestnut Hill

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

In Chestnut Hill kids will enjoy a Fourth of July event at The Water Tower Recreation Center, located at 209 E. Hartwell Lane. The center’s 97th annual children’s parade will feature bicycles and tricycles decorated in red-white-and-blue streamers and flags. The event begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 1 p.m. on Thursday at the Chestnut Hill Bocce Club, located at 118 E. Hartwell Lane. 

Other activities for the day include sock races, face painting, a magic show, pony rides and a petting zoo. At noon there is a free hot dog lunch and Jack and Jill ice-cream cups for dessert.

Watch a patriotic parade in Manayunk and Roxborough

A 183-year-old tradition known as the “Independence Day Parade of Churches and Sunday Schools and Synagogues” will be held on Thursday.

The parade features religious institutions from throughout Roxborough, Manayunk, Wissahickon and Andorra. This year, parade attendees will march-on without the participation of three Roman Catholic churches: St. Mary of the Assumption, St. Lucy’s and St. Josaphat, which all closed last July.

The parade will kick off at the corner of Manayunk Avenue and Lyceum Avenue at 9 a.m. and will travel three blocks up Lyceum to Ridge Avenue. Community members are invited to set up chairs along the sidewalks to watch the parade.

Hike from Chestnut Hill to Independence HallA hiking group called Hiking Around Philly will be leaving for Independence Hall at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday. The group will meet at 201 W. Evergreen Avenue under the awning of the Hill House apartment building in Chestnut Hill.

The hike will consist of about 12 miles. Hikers will travel through Chestnut Hill, then through Wissahickon Valley Park to Ridge Avenue and Kelly Drive to Center City.

The hike will wrap-up around 4 p.m. when the hikers will take the Chestnut Hill West or East train back to the starting point, Hill House, where a potluck barbecue will be held for hikers.

The group’s website explains that participants should bring water, be able to walk for long periods without “much of a break” and should have recently hiked 10 miles in similar conditions.

The cost for the hike is $3 per person. Visit the group’s Meetup page for additional information. 

Explore the historic hub that has it all

Historic Germantown will host their annual “Ring Out Freedom and Independence in Historic Germantown!” event on Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The community festival will feature guided tours, historical re-enactments, a bell-ringing ceremony, as well as arts and crafts.

Visitors can celebrate at five historical Germantown sites including Stenton, Hood Cemetery, Cliveden of the National Trust, Concord School & Upper Burying Ground and the Johnson House.

The free event will include live music with family-friendly crafts from ice cream-making to patriotic crafting sessions.

Here’s a look at the festival schedule:

Stenton: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Attend an “Old-Fashioned July 4th Celebration at Stenton,” located at 4601 N. 18th Street. On the historic grounds of Stenton, one of the most authentic of Philadelphia’s historic houses, families are invited to enjoy hot dogs and make-your-own ice cream; create an American flag-themed fan and play Colonial games; mingle with Benjamin Franklin; and listen to music by the Run of the Mill String Band.

Hood Cemetery: 12 to 3 p.m.

Tour Hood Cemetery, located at 4901 Germantown Avenue, which was formerly called the Lower Burying Ground. Hood was founded in 1692 and is the resting place of 41 Revolutionary War soldiers.

Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground: 12 to 3 p.m.

Attend the “Bell Ringing Ceremony” at the Concord School House & Upper Burying Ground, located at 6309 Germantown Avenue. The bell will ring at 2 p.m. and commemorates a tradition that began in the 18th century. There will also be a special re-enactor guest appearance.

Johnson House: 12 to 3 p.m.

Tour the Johnson House, located at 6306 Germantown Ave., a surviving Underground Railroad Station.

Cliveden: 12 to 4 p.m.

Tour Cliveden of the National Trust, located at 6401 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia’s only Revolutionary War battle site. Guests can tour the house and kids will enjoy an interactive activity dubbed”Life as a Colonial Soldier!”

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal