Famous for his big and bold signature, John Hancock was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Ring in Independence Day by catching a glimpse of the document that established this nation’s freedom from Britain with a trip to the National Archives. And afterward, keep the theme alive with the many events going on around the nation's capital. From the National Independence Day Parade to Fourth of July fireworks on the Mall, Washington, DC provides a memorable, one-of-a-kind Independence Day experience.
The National Independence Day Parade may start at 11:45 a.m., but you’ll want to arrive at early to secure a spot for you and the family to catch all of the floats, marching bands and military units. The parade takes place on Constitution Avenue and travels from 7th Street to 17th Street. Rock your red, white and blue and consider bringing a blanket to sit on if you have plans to stick around the National Mall for fireworks later in the evening.
The fireworks display in Washington, DC is unlike any other in the United States. The show, administered by the National Park Service, illuminates everything from the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Spectators can gain access to the National Mall through secure access points, and it’s important to arrive earlier than the 9:10 p.m. start time. The show lasts roughly 17 minutes and will be accompanied by live music from “A Capitol Fourth,” the concert held each Independence Day on the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn.
Each Independence Day, the U.S. government’s headquarters transforms to a proud and patriotic concert venue. “A Capitol Fourth,” a musical exhibition featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and celebrity performers, takes over the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building. Like other free outdoor events, arrive before the 8 p.m. start time to secure a comfortable spot. The one-and-a-half-hour concert is aired on PBS and always concludes with a thrilling rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.
Today, Ellis Island in the bay of New York is an homage to the many immigrants that came to this nation. DC has something similar, although more lively: the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which honors the world’s many unique cultures. Americans are known for their cultural diversity, and you can show your support by attending this living display of cultural heritage. Show your support for this fine nation and its many diverse citizens by heading to the front of the National Museum of the American Indian for cooking demonstrations, international dances, foreign fashions and much more.