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Every summer, fourth of July fireworks splash the sky with reds, whites and blues above the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol.
Every summer, fourth of July fireworks splash the sky with reds, whites and blues above the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol.
 

10 Ways to Celebrate Independence Day in Washington, DC

Spend the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital and celebrate with fireworks and festivals.

  • PRINT

Washington, DC is arguably the most patriotic place in America to celebrate Independence Day, and the nation's capital doesn't disappoint. From spectacular fireworks to moving musical performances to family-friendly festivals, there's more than enough fun to fill Fourth of July week. Check out our best bets below:

1) For the quintessential Fourth of July experience, don’t miss America’s National Independence Day Parade, which features marching bands from all over the country, military and specialty units, patriotic floats and VIPs. It's a great start to a full day of Fourth of July events. The parade kicks off at 11:45 a.m. on Constitution Avenue and 7th Street NW.

2) The Fourth of July festivities continue on the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn with "A Capitol Fourth," a free, 90-minute musical extravaganza. The concert features the National Symphony Orchestra and is capped off with a rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” complete with live cannon fire provided by the United States Army Presidential Salute Battery. Gates open at 3 p.m., and the concert begins at 8 p.m.

3) A Capitol Fourth is also the soundtrack for DC's fireworks spectacular on the National Mall. The Mall fills up quickly, so pack a picnic and make a day of it. The fireworks show typically starts shortly after 9 p.m. Looking for a unique view of the fireworks? Try a boat cruise or book a reservation at a hotel with a rooftop view.

4) In addition to "A Capitol Fourth" concert, patriotic music abounds during Fourth of July week. On Independence Day, catch the free Annual Independence Day Organ Concert at the Washington National Cathedral at 11 a.m. The U.S. Navy Band performs a series of free concerts throughout the summer, including Fourth of July week, as does the National Gallery of Art's Jazz in the Garden series.

5) Add a splash of international culture to your all-American holiday and make your way to the National Museum of the American Indian for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which typically runs over two long weekends around the Fourth of July. The annual celebration of cultural diversity will turn the area surrounding the museum into a global bazaar with music, dancing, crafts and demonstrations exploring different cultures.

6) The National Archives, home of the original Declaration of Independence, holds great Fourth of July festivities that are fun for the whole family. The celebration kicks off at 10 a.m. with a ceremony, including a presentation of colors, patriotic performances and a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence. 

7) If you want to see something really special this July 4th, head to the National Museum of American History to behold the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen The Star-Spangled Banner. The 30-by 34-foot flag is on display in a special chamber accompanied by an interactive table which allows you to learn fascinating details about the flag and how it was made. The exhibition also explores the flag's history and the incredible influence of the song that it inspired.

8) Fill up on all-American eats at Hill Country Barbecue Market, located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood. Containing every from-the-grill essential, including brisket, burgers and burnt ends, the eatery also hosts live concerts in the evenings, including on Independence Day. Meanwhile, patriotic sweet tooths should track down the Dangerously Delicious food truck for a quintessential slice of apple pie.

9) The Willard InterContinental Hotel, just steps from the White House, decks out its lobby and opens its doors for its annual Fourth of July block party. The Willard's acclaimed restaurant, Café du Parc, offers up American barbecue classics and a crepe station, all set to a soundtrack of American tunes from a live rock band.

10) There's nothing as American as baseball, except maybe apple pie. Washington's home team, the Nationals, can add some American spirit to your Fourth of July week. Catch a game and snack on some local fare, like a chili dog or half-smoke from Ben's Chili Bowl.

For more information, visit the Calendar of Events.


The FAA wants to remind visitors and residents that DC is a No Drone Zone.

 

*An earlier version of this article listed Tudor Place as being open. It is closed Saturday, July 4, but welcomes visitors Friday and Sunday, July 3 and 5, to celebrate independence “Where America’s Story Lives.” Historic house tours on the hour and garden-only visits (just $3) any time during opening hours.

Fourth of July fireworks splash the sky with electric color above the Smithsonian Institution Castle and the Washington Monument.
Fourth of July fireworks splash the sky with electric color above the Smithsonian Institution Castle and the Washington Monument. - Photo by Jake McGuire
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