Happy birthday, America! It’s been 238 great years and every city in the nation will be lighting up some big candles on that virtual cake in the sky to celebrate this Independence Day. Some of the best and the brightest booms, however, will be in the nation’s birthplace, Philadelphia.
To celebrate the date, the City of Brotherly Love will initiate its Party on the Parkway, throwing a free concert with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Aloe Blacc, Jennifer Hudson, Vicci Martinez, and Philly favorite, The Roots, all wrapped up with a jaw-dropping pyrotechnic display across the night sky. It just doesn’t get any better. Except, it does.
Not limited to just one day of tribute like other festivals, the 2014 nation celebration will stretch across a handful of days on each side of Friday, July 4, prepping the party with concerts, festivals, historic reenactments and films, capped with brilliant exploding fireworks displays under the stars. The ‘Visit Philly’ website details every last hurrah to ensure you don’t miss a patriotic beat, but some of the highlights are too important to miss, so we’ve highlighted them here.
Saturday, June 28, the Shops at Liberty Place will host a block party with food, entertainment and fun games and attractions for the whole family. The shops, at 16th and Chestnut, will collect the city’s best food trucks and restaurant stand and disperse live music into the festive atmosphere.
Sunday, June 29, free admission to the Academy of Natural Sciences is available to all. On the campus of Drexel University, at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this facility is a valuable resource for everything related to the natural world. Exhibits, education and research are shared with visitors across fields of natural history, environmental science and natural biodiversity.
Wednesday, July 2, the Wawa Hoagie Day finds a five-ton hoagie sandwich prepped and ready to feed 17,000 people. Wawa will also homage to 50 different military heroes on this day of national pride. There will also be free access to the National Constitution Center to review how this wonderful experiment in democracy took shape. A variety of themed exhibits will be on display.
On July 4, the day starts with the enormous Philadelphia Independence Day parade. How big is it? More than 5,000 participants playing band instruments, marching in military formation and waving flags, amping up the adrenaline in true American style. Look for the mummers, floats and historic characters among the marchers.
The Philly 4th of July Jam, often referenced as the largest free concert in the country, gets underway a little later in the day. The big Jam with its all-star lineup almost always reveals a couple of surprises, as hometown band The Roots tends to bring along a few of their famous friends to play along just for fun.
If you’re simply done in and would rather head back to the hotel for a feet-up view, the concert will be televised and streamed at PhillyJam.VH1.com and the VH1 app, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time, but you’ll be missing one heck of a fireworks flashdance launched over the Philadelphia Museum of Art that is the culmination of this historic day.
On Saturday, July 5, a Battleship Blast on the Battleship New Jersey will cover the night with more patriotic fireworks, visible from a lovely dinner, cocktails and entertainment on the fantail.
July 4 is certainly the focus here, but there are equally exciting events planned throughout the week. Pack up your best red, white and blue attire, and make your plans to celebrate America’s birthday in the birthplace of democracy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the spirit of Independence Day is alive and well all year long.