One of the largest Independence Day celebrations in the nation, as well as a tradition that now dates back back 40 years, Boston Harborfest returns with a four-day celebration from Thursday, July 1, through Sunday, July 4.
The festivities get underway with a public kick-off July 1 from 11:30 a.m. from 1 p.m. on “The Steps” of the plaza at Washington and Franklin streets in Downtown Crossing, with Acting Mayor Kim Janey and Martha Sheridan, director of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, among others, scheduled to appear. Roving re-enactors and staff from the USS Constitution will greet visitors, while the 215th Army Band is scheduled to begin an afternoon of performances in Downtown Crossing.
Local musicians will perform across all genres from a stage at The Steps, July 1-3, noon to 8 p.m., while Through Me to You Puppetry will also perform a children’s show there on July 3 at 1 p.m.
The DTX Arts Market will take place on July 1 and 2 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sumner Street between Macy’s and Roche Brothers, with local artisans offering their work for sale.
On each day of the event, Freedom Trail sites, such as Old North Church, Paul Revere’s House, Old State House, USS Constitution, and Old South Meeting House, will be offering tours beginning at 10 a.m., while Faneuil Hall is also offering free tours each day at 11 a.m.
On Saturday, July 3, highlights include a Classic Car Showcase on Summer Street from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as a wide array of performers, re-enactors, entertainers, and musical performances at The Steps from noon to 8 p.m.
Fireworks, sponsored by supported by People’s United Bank, as well as co-sponsors the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District, are scheduled from 9:15 to 9:30 p.m. over Long Wharf in the Inner Harbor. Spectators can watch the display for free along the waterfront, or get a close up look at it instead during a two-hour cruise on the Adirondack III at a cost of $130 per adult, or $100 per child.
On Sunday, July 4, a flag-raising ceremony takes place at 9 a.m. on City Hall Plaza, followed by a parade to the Granary Burying Ground, where wreathes will be laid on the graves of the Patriots buried there. After the wreath-laying ceremony, the parade continues through Downtown Crossing to the Old State House, where the current Captain Commanding of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company will do the traditional reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony – the same location where it was first read to Boston citizens on July 18, 1776. Parade viewing for the City of Boston’s 254th Independence Day Celebration will be available along the route and in Downtown Crossing.
Beginning at 11:30 a.m., USS Constitution’s annual turn-around sail through Boston Harbor returns, and spectators are invited to watch it from the Boston Harbor shoreline, including Castle Island.
The 204 foot-long wood-hulled ship, first launched in 1797 and the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, will sail out to Fort Independence on Castle Island, exchange a 21-gun salute, and then turn around and head back into the Inner Harbor to exchange cannon fire with Boston’s Coast Guard Base in the North End. Departure from Charlestown Navy Yard’s Pier One is tentatively set to place at 10:45 a.m., and she returns to her Navy Yard berth across from the USS Constitution Museum at 2 p.m.
The USS Constitution will also be open for free tours during Harborfest, as well as throughout the summer.
Visit bostonharborfest.com for more information.