The Ultimate Guide to July 4th in Mass

Fourth of July

Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…the tourists are coming. Perhaps one of the most distinguished literary artifacts of America’s early years, Paul Revere’s Ride is a poem still used today to teach the timeline of America’s independence in primary schools around the country. We don’t need to hang lanterns though, to warn that tourists are coming for The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular next week. Instead, we’ve composed a comprehensive guide to celebrating the fourth in Massachusetts by land and by sea, busy or crowd free, from the coast to the Berkshires for all to enjoy.

Photo: Leonardo Dasilva


Boston Harborfest: Old Ironsides (The USS Constitution) Below the Waterline! With over 200 events between July 1st and July 7th, you’ll be knee deep in revolutionary history between reenactments and musical selections from the 19th Century. There will be Freedom Trail tours (your kids will be asking for their own Freedom Trail Pop-Up Book after!), and for the adults a Freedom Trail Historic Pub Craw—we suggest you grab a copy of Drinking Boston to brush up on old-time pub trivia to impress fellow tour goers. Take the kids to Old South Meeting House on July 1 for a hands-on crafting experience – they’ll hear from Denise Price about her experience creating Boston’s first Pop Up book and even learn how to make their own patriotic pop up to bring home! (More details here) Denise will also be signing copies of her book at the Old North Church on July 3 from 12-3 pm.

African-American Patriots Tour, July 2nd and 3rd – a different take on the Freedom Trail: a guided walking tour through the roots of the abolition movement in America and an introduction to early African American leaders.

The North Shore

Beverly Farms Annual Fourth of July Celebration – Beverly does the Fourth right: They’ve got scavenger hunts and races for the kiddies and dances and softball games for “old timers”, as well as a house decorating contest, float building, and the Family & Friends Cookout (Burgers, anyone?) . But the real show stopper is the fireworks spectacular along West Beach. Events start June 27 and continue through the 4th.

50th Anniversary – Marblehead Festival of Arts – This year from July 2nd through the 5th, Marblehead Festival of Arts will hold their annual 4th of July festival: free activities include a Champagne and Culinary Arts Reception on Sunday, June 28th at Fort Sewall, Performing Arts, the Street Festival, Children’s Festival, Film Festival, Kite Flying and Boat Building. This year there will be a special photo exhibit of the 50 previous years. There are loads of events for the whole family, including writers workshops and boat building, with parking available and a free Festival Trolley running to exhibit areas.



South of Boston

Declaration of Independence Reading and Celebration – For an educational and unique Fourth activity, join the Adams National Historic Park service in a reading of the Declaration of Independence, reenactment, and a critically acclaimed stage play. The three events run from 1 PM until 6 PM on the Fourth at the park, and are free and open to the public. If the event inspires an interest in historic buildings beyond the park, we’ve got you covered.

Hingham’s Salute To Veterans – In 2011, Hingham’s Fourth festivities were rated as the best unknown 4th of July celebrations. This year, Hingham invites all to salute our veterans through donations to join the “50 Flags Campaign.” As for festivities, this year’s schedule includes fireworks on the 27th, a road race early in the morning of the Fourth, and a parade later that morning.

New Bedford Folk Festival—Previously Summerfest – Well over 30 musical performances are lined up this year at New Bedford’s Folk Festival, which runs from 11 AM to 9 PM July 4th and 5th. An Editors’ Choice for Best of New England Travel in Yankee Magazine last year, the festival brings over 70 renowned and emerging performers and up to 90-juried arts and crafts vendors. Tickets are $20 at the gate, $100 for VIP front row seats. From their site— “as part of a ‘We ♥ Locals’ campaign, discounted weekend tickets ($15 for a weekend ticket) can be purchased, in advance, in person only, at the Whaling Museum (cash and credit card with a $1 processing fee per ticket) and the Zeiterion Performing Arts Theater (cash only). These tickets are now available until July 2nd.”


The Cape

Fourth of July Parade in Chatham, MA – This is one of the best parades on Cape Cod. A true American experience that attracts thousands, floats and bands march down Chatham’s beautiful Main Street this year celebrating Chatham’s unique architecture, people, and history. Stop in and say hello to our pals at Where the Sidewalk Ends. Time: 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Mashpee Wampanoag Annual Pow Wow – Here’s another unique event that is totally worth checking out: the Mashpee Wompanoag’s Pow Wow. The Native American cultural event in past years has included education and fun for the entire family: drumming contests, dancing contests and crafts. Event details are limited, but dates are listed for July 3rd, 4th, and 5th, open to the public, and starting at 10 AM. Tickets are $13 for adults, and $8 for children and seniors.

Woods Hole Independence Day Parade – The annual Woods Hole Fourth of July Parade welcomes everyone to join or watch the completely quirky science-themed parade. The parade begins at noon on School Street in Woods Hole. If you are especially inspired by some of the sea creatures you see marching down the street, grab a copy of Under Cape Cod Waters at Eight Cousins bookstore in Falmouth.

Photo: MA Office of Travel

Central and Western Mass

Sturbridge Village – Old Sturbridge Village will be celebrating the Fourth from July 3rd to the 5th, with the firing of a new reproduction cannon and various other patriotic festivities. There will be a parade, militia march, pie eating contest, farm Olympics, a brass band and more. The new 18th century cannon through is the talk of the town, which has been in production since last fall. It is encouraged tickets be bought ahead of time, online.

Pittsfield 4th of July Parade – Considered one of the top 10 Fourth of July parades in the country by USA Today, the Pittsfield Fourth Parade starts at 10 AM this year. The celebration is known for its outstanding musical acts, balloons, floats, and hometown feel. Parade location is in Downtown Pittsfield.

Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra in Worcester – Looking for something like the Boston Pops but not so big? The Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra will be preforming at the city of Worcester’s Fourth celebrations this year. The evening begins with a ceremonial flag raising at 7:45, followed by the orchestra, and lastly fireworks at 9:30 PM. Kids activities and food vendors will also be on site.

4th of July at Tanglewood – You’ll have to be pretty lucky (or have really great friends) to grab tickets to the sold out James Taylor show at Tanglewood this year, but head to the beloved outdoor concert space in the morning, and you’ll find a rockin’ kids concert to keep you entertained. Tanglewood opens for the season on July 3.

Fireworks By Town: If you’re only looking for fireworks this year, check out this list.

Photo: Mark Wooding

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