UPDATED Weekly Entertainment Guide – Independence Day Celebrations

    July 4th Fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2017.  (Courtesy of the Wawa Welcome America Festival)

    July 4th Fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2017. (Courtesy of the Wawa Welcome America Festival)

    Celebrate “The Roots” of our Independence in Philadelphia and all across the region. Robin Bloom offers a guide to what’s going on this holiday.

    Philly Independence Day celebrations

    Wawa Welcome America! Festival

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    The Wawa Welcome America! Festival celebrates our nation’s independence with special activities including POPS! On Independence, a free concert with conductor Larry Blank and guest soloist Capathia Jenkins at the steps of Independence Hall, 6th & Chestnut Streets, Thursday, July 3, 8pm*. Bring lawn chairs and blankets! The Celebration of Freedom Ceremony takes place on July 4, 10am, at Independence Hall, followed by the Philadelphia Independence Day Parade throughout Historic Philadelphia, 11am, starting at 5th & Chestnut Streets, then west to 9th Street, to Market to Front Street. Events continue with the Let Freedom Ring ceremony, 5th & Market Streets, 1pm, Party on the Parkway, noon-7pm, Ben Franklin Parkway, and Philly 4th of July Jam, 7pm-11pm, Ben Franklin Parkway featuring Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Hudson, Aloe Blacc, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and of course, The Roots! Grand Finale Fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

    *UPDATED – the POPS! event has been moved indoors to the Kimmel Center.

    Historic Philadelphia events

    Independence Week continues where it all began 238 years ago with family activities at several Historic Philadelphia locations. Events include readings of the Declaration of Independence, Liberty 360 3D Show in the PECO Theater, Independence Day Family Fun, July 4-6, 12pm-3pm at Franklin Square Park, Betsy Ross Independence Day Bash, July 4, 11am-3pm with crafts, children’s naturalization ceremony, flag raising and exhibit, 1776 Experience – Revolutionary War Encampment, Colonial reenactor meet & greets, and lots more.

    Scooper All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream Festival

    Cool off from the heat with the 16th annual Scooper All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream Festival, Friday, July 4, 12pm-6pm, Saturday, July 5, noon-5pm and 6pm-9pm and Sunday, July 6, noon-5pm, Penn’s Landing Great Plaza. Admission is a $7 donation that supports pediatric leukemia at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

    Celebrate America’s birthday in historic Germantown

    Celebrate America’s birthday in historic Germantown: Stenton, one of the oldest and well preserved houses in Philadelphia, hosts an “Old-Fashioned July 4th Celebration, Friday July 4, 11:30am-1:30pm. The 18th century Germantown estate built by James Logan, Secretary to Pennsylvania founder William Penn, serves as a house museum with authentic Georgian architecture and historic documents. Visitors are welcome to hot dogs and make-your-own ice cream on the grounds of the estate, along with activities such as making an American flag themed fan and colonial games to the sounds of live music from Run of the Mill String Band. The celebration continues with tours at Hood Cemetery, Concord School House & Upper Burial Ground, Johnson House and Cliveden, which offers interactive children’s activities and meet & greets with Martha Washington. Stenton is located at 4601 N. 18th Street in Germantown and is free to the public. Cliveden is at 6401 Germantown Avenue.

    Outdoor Summer Concerts at SugarHouse Casino

    SugarHouse Casino offers its annual free Outdoor Summer Concert Series on the Delaware River Waterfront, kicking off this Friday, July 4, 9pm with the American funk band WAR. The party continues on Saturday, July 5, 9pm with The Family Stone. Shows every weekend through September 7 with the Sensational Soul Cruisers, Don’t Call Me Francis, and many more local party bands, plus a live DJ between sets, 1001 N. Delaware Avenue, Philadelphia. For ages 21 and over only.

    Freedom Blast at Fort Mifflin

    Fort Mifflin on the Delaware celebrates Independence Day with the annual Freedom Blast!, Saturday, July 5, 10am-4pm, highlighting the long history of the 50 acre fort that supported the American Revolution, with activities for the whole family including public readings of the Declaration of Independence, guided tours, hands-on living history activities, weapon and cannon demonstrations, and more at Fort Mifflin and Hog Island Roads, Philadelphia.

    Regional July 4th Celebrations

    Old-Fashioned 4th of July Celebration Fonthill

    Fonthill Museum’s Old-Fashioned 4th of July Celebration is Friday, July 4, noon-4pm, a day of family fun with late 19th century festivities, food, games, crafts, entertainment, and live music, with the backdrop of the estate of Henry Mercer, 84 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, PA. The event kicks off with the Children’s Decorated Bike Parade at 12:30pm. The castle will be open for self-guided tours.

    UPDATED – This event has been canceled due to the impending severe weather and impact on Fonthill’s grounds. However, visitors can enjoy limited free indoor activities at Fonthill beginning at noon. Regular admission guided tours of the castle will be available beginning at 11:00 am. The Mercer Museum will also be open from 10am-5pm on July 4.

    “Celebrate America” at Longwood Gardens

    “Celebrate America” with Longwood Gardens’ Fireworks and Fountains show, Friday, July 4, 9:15pm, with well-known patriotic favorites, including John Philip Sousa’s The Stars & Stripes, Richard Rodgers’ Victory at Sea, Irving Berlin’s God Bless America, and more, set to an illuminated fountain show and fireworks, Route 1, Kennett Square, PA. Bring a chair or rent one while supplies last. Blankets not permitted. Reserve your spot after 3pm. Includes all day admission to the Gardens. Check out the new Meadow Garden!  UPDATED – this event is sold out and will go on as scheduled despite the weather forecast.

    Declaration of Independence Reading at Hopewell Furnace

    Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site hosts an inspirational reading of the Declaration of Independence on Friday, July 4, 2pm – the exact time that the document was officially adopted 238 years ago in Philadelphia. Staged on the porch of the Ironmaster’s House, the program features Christine Emmert reading and patriotic songs performed by Matt Red Samluk. Explore the old structures, check out the livestock and visit the village store at one of the most thoroughly preserved examples of a 19th century iron-making community. The national historic site is surrounded by the 73,000 acre Hopewell Big Woods, the largest forest in Southeastern Pennsylvania, 5 miles south of Birdsboro, PA on Route 345. The park is open from 9am-5pm.

    Additional July 4th celebrations continue across southeastern Pennsylvania with parades, activities, and fireworks including Abington, Ambler, Coatseville, Downingtown, Glenside, Jenkintown, Lansdowne, Media, Newtown, Norristown, Phoenixville, Pottstown, Quakertown, Skippack, Upper Darby, and Valley Forge National Historical Park.

    UPDATED – Due to potential inclement weather on July 4, a number of communities have canceled and/or postponed fireworks displays. Ambler, PA has rescheduled for Saturday, July 5, and Conshohocken, PA has rescheduled for July 12.

    Camden Waterfront Freedom Festival

    Camden Waterfront’s free Freedom Festival celebrates America’s birthday and honors our heroes, July 3-6 with family activities, food, Beer Garden featuring Flying Fish Brewery, amusements, military displays and demonstrations, and live music in Wiggins Park. Stop by the Battleship NJ to see the Teach Fleet LEGO display, a collection of giant naval-themed LEGO models. Fireworks by the Adventure Aquarium on Saturday, July 5, approximately 9pm. Sunday, July 6 is Military Appreciation Day.

    July 4th Jubilee at Morven

    Morven Museum & Garden hosts a July 4th Jubilee, in honor of Independence Day and New Jersey’s 350th birthday on Friday, July 4, 12pm-3pm, at the home of Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton. The afternoon features the opportunity to sign the Declaration, a celebration of women in the American Revolution, colonial life demonstrations including bread baking and ice cream making, children’s activities, and live music by the Riverside Bluegrass Band and refreshments and food trucks, Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, Princeton, NJ. Bring blankets or chairs!

    More New Jersey Fun on the Fourth

    In New Jersey, Atlantic City celebrates America’s birthday with a huge fireworks display – one of the top five in the country – that requires two ocean barges and one marina platform, Friday, July 4, dusk. Many more fireworks to be seen down the shore, as well as in other locations across the Garden State, with towns hosting parades with live music, amusements, and much more. Towns include Audubon, Barrington, Bordentown, Buena Vista, Camden, Collingswood, East Windsor, Evesham, Greenwich, Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, Haddon Township, Lawrence, Magnolia, Medford, Millville, Oaklyn, Paulsboro, Pitman, Runnemede, Shamong, Smithville, and Washington Township.

    UPDATED – Due to potential inclement weather on July 4, a number of communities have canceled and/or postponed fireworks displays. Atlantic City, NJ has rescheduled for Sunday, July 6, Bordentown, NJ has rescheduled for Saturday, July 5, Haddonfield, NJ has rescheduled for Sunday, July 6, Medford, NJ has rescheduled for July 19, Ocean City, NJ has rescheduled for Saturday, July 5, and Washington Township, NJ has rescheduled for July 13.

    Cumberland County Fair

    The Cumberland County Fair, “New Jersey’s oldest fair,” returns with six days of concerts, derbies, and fireworks, July 7-12. Events include racing pigs, free hayrides, garden exhibits, rides, and more, at the Cumberland County Fairgrounds, Millville, NJ.

    Independence in the First State

    The City of Wilmington hosts a July 4th celebration on the Riverfront beginning at 2pm with free, live performances by MINSHARA, a Harrisburg-based rock band, the blues and soul sounds of Deb Callahan, the Latin music rhythms of Miguel Orlando, with R&B hits played by Mozaic Flow, and Familiar Faces from Washington, D.C. Also, look for historical reenactments, games, rides, arts, face painting, magicians, crafts, as well as a crab feast, various food and drink vendors, and fireworks at dusk, Tubman Garrett Riverfront Park, 815 Justison Street, Wilmington, DE.Adopt a firework in Dover, DE for their Independence Day Celebration, beginning at 9am on Friday, July 4 with various activities, craft and food vendors, and more, culminating in a parade at 6pm, followed by fireworks at approximately 9:25pm over Legislative Hall.Many towns hosting parades with live music, amusements, and much more, including Rehoboth, Bethany Beach, Lewes, and Hockessin (which offers the Fireworks Express on the Wilmington and Western Railroad).“Steamin’ Day” at the Marshall Steam Museum

    The Marshall Steam Museum at Auburn Heights hosts Steamin’ Day, Sunday, July 6, 12:30pm-4:30pm, celebrating local history and life at the dawn of the automotive age with train rides and rides on the antique autos, fresh steam-popped popcorn from the vintage popper, firing up demonstration, entry to the museum (the world’s largest operating collection of Stanley steam cars plus a 1930s working Lionel electric trains display), a hands-on engine display, children’s activities, and exhibits. Stroll the beautiful grounds at 3000 Creek Road (Route 82), Yorklyn, DE.



    Tricia Whiting contributed reporting to this week’s Guide.

    To submit an event to be considered for the Weekly Entertainment Guide email Robin Bloom at artscalendar@whyy.org.

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