Along with Thanksgiving, July 4th is an all-American holiday that we as a nation can claim all to ourselves. There’s never any shortage of family fun activities to take part in, especially in the historic city of Massachusetts, which has long been known to play host to some of the country’s best Fourth of July traditions. Obviously, there’s the world famous Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, as well as the Boston Harborfest, which is the king of all things 4th of July. But all across the Bay State, you’ll find other smaller celebrations that are worth checking out too. From live musical concerts, historic reenactments, and patriotic revelries, to solemn readings of the Declaration of Independence at Old Sturbridge Village, great food and art in Marblehead, or some nifty races or firework displays on the North Shore, there are plenty of opportunities to have some pure patriotic fun.
So for a more than joyful, star-spangled party this sunny season, head on out to the New England area just as summer begins to bloom. Nothing can compete with the array of parades, firework extravaganzas, barbeques, picnics, harbor cruises, and colonial recreations offered in this original Plymouth colony. Here are seven of the best Fourth of July celebrations to go to in Massachusetts.
Best 4th Of July Parades In Massachusetts
1. Boston Harborfest – Boston, Massachusetts
Remember the past, celebrate the present, and educate the future at the nation’s largest Fourth of July Festival which includes over two hundred events such live concerts, Revolutionary-era historical reenactments, the famous Chowdafest, visits from U.S. and foreign naval ships, as well as harbor cruises, State House tours, and guided tours of the North End, Boston’s underground, and the Harbor Islands.undefined
The annual family friendly favorite is concentrated in Boston's historic downtown and waterfront districts, brilliantly showcasing the colonial and maritime heritage of the cradle of the American Revolution. Do some treasure hunting, whale watching, and Boston Pops concert and fireworks-watching this July. Harborfest attracts over 2.5 million visitors each summer. What are you waiting for?
2. Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular – Boston, Massachusetts
This year, superstars Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas will join conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops for the annual Fireworks Spectacular show at the Charles River Esplanade. The free event is two full nights of patriotic music centered on the Esplanade between the Longfellow and Massachusetts Avenue bridges. Orchestra performances begin at the Hatch Shell—it’s a glittering, unforgettable Independence Day tradition for sure, complete with a thunderous rendition of Tchaikovsky”s “1812 Overture,” as well as real cannons and the live ringing of church bells. Pack a picnic lunch and get there early for the best seat!
While in the Boston area, also be sure to catch a live reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Historic Faneuil Hall. This once a year event is a nice place for Boston residents and visitors to relive and rehear the famous speech read from the balcony—just as it was on July 18, 1776.
3. Fourth of July Parade - Chatham, Massachusetts
It’s one of the best parades on Cape Cod and it’s super easy to see why, as it attracts thousands of visitors each July. With numerous floats and bands marching down Chatham’s beautiful Main Street, it really is the true American experience-- and having begun all the way back in 1908, remains one of the country’s oldest patriotic traditions. This year’s theme is “Freedom Is Not Free” and will begin at 9:30a.m. Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to locals booklovers at Where the Sidewalk Ends.
4. Pittsfield 4th of July Parade - Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Named one of the ten best Fourth of July parades in the country by USA Today, this annual Independence Day parade is legendary for its outstanding musical acts, balloons, floats, and hometown feel. Party in and around Downtown Pittsfield beginning at Park Square to celebrate red, white, and blue with a big bang before ending over at Wahconah Park.
Approximately 100,000 people line the route beginning at East/West Housatonic Streets each year to prance down North Street. Plus, with this year’s theme of “Music & Dance Through the Years,” you and the kids will sure have a grand old time enjoying a glorious Berkshire County tradition that dates back to 1824 (when the procession consisted of Revolutionary War survivors, patriots, politicians and horse-drawn carriages)! Rain or shine, get ready to get your Parade on.
5. An 1830′s Independence Day Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village - Sturbridge, Massachusetts
Spend the Fourth in costume at Old Sturbridge Village—better yet, march in the parade, enjoy a picnic lunch, and then participate in a game of baseball. Sound like a dream Independence Day celebration, right?! Both you and the kids will have a swell time enjoying July 4th the good old fashioned at the largest outdoor history museum in the northeast portraying life in a New England village in the 1830s. Step back into an era when America was new, and when veterans of the fight for freedom still lived.undefined
Join in on all the fun as the martial band leads the citizen’s procession march through the streets. Listen to a rousing patriotic reading of the Declaration of Independence (including a giant reproduction for you to sign) before making a tri-cornered hat and then drilling with the Sturbridge Militia. You’ll also want to learn some 19th century dances and to stroll through the charming village before chowing down on all that summer barbecue that will be available-- along with lots of local beer and wine. Yes.
6. Marblehead Festival of Arts – Marblehead, Massachusetts
Light up the July night sky in the North Shore area at a quaint harborfront town that’s always packed on the Fourth with art, music, fresh-food vendors, and family-friendly activities. You and the kiddies can expect a huge crowd, lots of walking, and plenty of traffic, but it’ll all be worth it once you see those red flares start bursting out of The Harbor Illumination, signaling everyone to take their seats for the show. Be sure to head on over Chandler Hovey Park with a blanket to stake out a spot-- there’s nothing better than watching sparks fly over Marblehead Light Tower! Or, you might want to settle down on a patch of grass at Fort Sewall or Crocker Park. And don’t forget to snag a glass of champagne or some draft beer at The Landing Restaurant on Front Street right after the spectacle so that you and the loved ones can talk about how awesome those pyrotechnics were.
What’s more is that there’s also the annual Marblehead Festival of Arts, which offers plenty of free activities such as art exhibits, a kite festival, a sand sculpture competition, a film festival of artsy shorts, and plenty of outdoor music and entertainment at Crocker Park. You’ll definitely want to check out the Horribles Parade too. There’s even special programming for kids age ten and under, as well as a free Festival Trolley that runs to and from exhibit areas so you can get where you want to go. Fast.
7. Beverly Farms Fourth of July Celebration – Beverly, Massachusetts
Beverly always does the Fourth right with its annual Independence Day celebration that has roots back to the 1880’s. It’s run by the Prides Crossing Fourth of July Committee and over the years, has developed into a highly anticipated annual homecoming event for current and former Farms-Prides residents. Featured events include the always unique morning Horribles Parade, which has got a boatload of floats entered by individuals and neighborhoods from the greater Farms-Prides area that often poke fun at current events, local issues, and national politics. There’s even a spectacular evening shoreline illumination and aerial fireworks display held at West Beach later at night.
You and the little ones might also enjoy the House Decorating Contest, the youngsters Scavenger Hunt, or the Family & Friends Cookout. Post-parade, make sure to join in on the "Old Timers" adult softball game at Dix Park, or in some of the races and games held at West Beach. There’s even tons of musical entertainment on the sandy shores all afternoon leading up to the fireworks show!
This article was written by Pamela Chan.