The Boston Pops free July 4th 2024 Concert and Fireworks Spectacular, America's best Independence Day celebration, attracts more than a million spectators who gather along the banks of the Charles River to listen to the rousing music and watch the fireworks light up the sky.

The concert begins at 8pm, and the spectacular half-hour fireworks show starts at 10:30pm.

A lineup of special guests join the Pops for the concert, which takes place at Boston's historical Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, a lush river-side park on the Boston side of the Charles.

Musical selections include a few traditional pieces but otherwise vary each year until the concert's dramatic signature finale: Tchaikovsky's explosive 1812 Overture, ending with dramatic drumrolls and real cannon fire while church bells ring throughout the city.

Then, just as the smoke from the cannons begins to fade from the air, a dazzling fireworks show lights up the sky.

Why does Boston have such a large Independence Day celebration?  This is where the fight for American liberty began, and July 4th is a very special occasion here.   Don't miss it!

Photo credit:  July 4th fireworks over the Charles River - Photo credit:

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Boston Pops July 4th Concert Lineup for 2024

July 4th Boston Pops Concert at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade
The Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, site of the Boston Pops July 4th Concert - Photo credit: Jay Connor, courtesy of Boston 4 Productions

Get ready to enjoy a spectacular guest lineup for this year's July 4th concert as they join the Boston Pops Orchestra with conductor Keith Lockhart.

Headliners this year include Rock & Roll Hall of Fame singer Darlene Love, Broadway star and Toni Award winner Kelli O'Hara, and Americana favorites, The Mavericks.

The Singing Sargents from the US Air Force Band will lead the traditional sing-along of several patriotic favorites including John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

For the concert's musical finale, you can expect the traditional stirring rendition of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, complete with real cannon fire, followed by a fireworks display over the Charles River starting around 10:30 and lasting about half an hour.

From our Patriots Day holiday in April to the Freedom Trail through the city to reenactors dressed in Colonial attire, Boston commemorates its revolutionary heritage all year, but around July 4th, celebratory pride escalates to such a degree that you'll see patriotism on steroids. 

Don't miss this exciting experience!

Boston Insider Tip:   Book in Advance

If you're visiting Boston for this special holiday, please know that the closest hotels near the fireworks book up early and prices for remaining rooms soar as high as the fireworks closer to the date - so don't wait to make your reservations!

Boston Fireworks Spectacular & Pops Concert Schedule 

Boston fireworks, seen with the golden dome of the Massachusetts Statehouse in the foreground
Boston fireworks, seen from behind the golden dome of the Massachusetts State House - Photo credit:

July 4 - Concert & Fireworks

  • 12 noon - Secured areas (meaning you need to pass through security and get a wristband to get in) by the "Oval" (the grassy area in front of the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade) and "The Island" (an adjacent area by the Lagoon), open to people waiting in line
  • 8pm - Boston Pops Concert and show begins with the National Anthem; Bloomberg/WBZ-TV's local coverage also begins
  • 10:30pm (approximately) - Soon after the concert ends, the Boston fireworks launch from a barge on the Charles River.  The show lasts about 30 minutes and concludes at 11pm

With thousands of fireworks being set off, you can see why everyone calls the show "spectacular."

Find yourself a comfortable spot on either the Boston or Cambridge side of the Charles River, and enjoy this special patriotic event.

The skies light up with dazzling pyrotechnics reaching as high as 1,500 feet.

Depending on where you stay, you might even be able to watch the fireworks from your hotel room or roof deck.

July 4th Fireworks Cruises

Boston Fireworks
Boston's July 4th fireworks seen from the Charles River - Photo credit:

The USS Constitution also makes its annual turnaround cruise in Boston Harbor on July 4th:

Hotels near July 4th Fireworks

When Should You Arrive on the Esplanade on July 4?

On a typical July 4th in Boston, over a million people gather along both sides of the Charles River to watch the Pops Concert and the Fireworks show.

Your arrival time will depend on where you decide to listen to the concert and watch the fireworks.

Best Viewing and Listening Spots for Boston's July 4 Fireworks and Concert:  What You Need to Know!

Basics:  The park lining the river on the Boston side of the river is called the Esplanade.  The Cambridge side also has a park (sometimes called "the Embankment") along the river.  Both provide plenty of great viewing spots for the fireworks.

Here are the 4 key things you need to know when deciding how early to arrive and where to position yourself:

  • The fireworks are launched from barges positioned more or less in the middle of the river near the Hatch Shell.  They shoot up very high into the sky, which means you can see them from most spots along the river, despite all the trees.
  • Although most people tend to crowd onto the Esplanade to watch the fireworks, the Cambridge-side river banks actually offer a greater number of good viewing spots because of the way it curves. 
  • If you want to be able to actually see the concert, you need to be within the Oval - the grassy area in front of the Hatch Shell where the musicians play.  Even though the Island is within the secure area, the Oval offers the sightlines of the stage. 
  • In case you remember that the concert used to be broadcast through speakers along the Esplanade, you should be aware that no longer happens.  Although you may be able to hear the concert reasonably well if you're near the Oval, a better plan is to watch the livestream online at (see below for more broadcast details)
  • Finally, if you hope to see the fireworks from the Oval - which truthfully is not the greatest viewing spot because of all the very leafy trees along the river - the right side (when you're facing the stage) will give you better views than the left side because you'll have an easier time seeing beyond the trees.

If you don't care about seeing the concert (meaning you don't need to be inside the secured area that includes the Oval), you can go straight to our tips for where and when to stake out your spot by the river here.

What to Expect at the Oval by the Hatch Shell

A few days before the concert, a temporary fence gets installed around the Oval and Island to prevent overcrowding, which means the space within it is limited. 

Entrances to the secured areas (the Oval plus the Esplanade's adjacent Island/Lagoon) open at noon on the 4th. 

Typically, security checkpoints are located between the Clarendon Footbridge to the Lagoon and the Berkeley Footbridge; easiest access to the checkpoint is by way of Berkeley, Clarendon, and Dartmouth Streets off of Storrow Drive (which will be closed to traffic so you can walk across).

As an FYI, most of the area behind the Hatch Shell, extending back to about Revere Street in Beacon Hill, is used as a staging area for equipment and is closed off to pedestrians - so you can't sneak in that way.

Best Time to Arrive at the Oval for the Pops Concert

Getting into the Oval and securing a good spot involves some strategizing, planning, and the will power to wake up before dawn on a holiday morning. 

In order to get into the secured areas on July 4th, you need to arrive very early. 

How early?

Secured areas open at 9am and in a typical year (meaning no extreme weather), they fill up immediately with fans who get in line since 6am or earlier.

So plan to be there by no later than 6am, or earlier to be on the safe side.  Bring sunscreen and plenty of water!

How to Move In & Out of the Secured Pops Concert Area

Once you gain entrance to the Oval, you'll be given a wristband.  This allows you to move in and out of the secured area throughout the day. 

However, if you want to maintain a particular spot on the Oval, you should leave one person in your group behind to guard it. 

You must be back by 7pm at the latest in order to get back into the Oval - 6:30 is safer, and depending on the crowds, Public Safety may close off access to the secured area even earlier - so check with them before you leave just as a precaution. 

Best Time to Arrive on the Esplanade or Charles River Banks for the July 4th Fireworks

Although an early arrival time isn't quite so crucial to stake out a spot for viewing the fireworks, many of the prime spots along the Charles River banks, especially on the Boston side and on the bridges, begin to fill up by late morning or early afternoon, depending on the weather. 

Somewhere between 3:30 - 5:30pm, areas on the Esplanade near the Oval not blocked by trees get packed. 

Farther down the river, many people begin stake out their viewing spots by early afternoon, and by 5:30-7:30pm, these areas also fill up. 

If you plan to come alone or with just 1-2 friends, you can usually arrive later and find a small spot to squeeze into.  But if you'll be part of a group of four or more, consider coming early to get a good place.

The Cambridge side of the Charles tends to be comparatively less crowded - but crowds here are still very dense. 

Allowed & Prohibited Items on the Esplanade

For safety reasons, including possible emergency evacuation (which does occasionally happen due to severe thunderstorms with lightning), special rules will be in place on July 4th for allowed and prohibited items on the Esplanade, and will be strictly enforced.

Allowed items:  Pop-up tents or canopies with no sides and maximum size 10'x10', blankets or tarps no bigger than 10'x10', folding or beach chairs, coolers that you carry in with a single handle or shoulder strap (ie, no wheels), non-alcoholic beverages in clear sealed containers no bigger than 2 liters, and personal items in clear bags. 

Any small clutch bags or purses will be inspected, and then you must take them in inside a clear bag.

Key prohibited items to note:  No backpacks, shopping bags, or other non-clear bags or containers will be allowed. 

No bicycles will be allowed through the checkpoints into the Oval or Island/Lagoon areas.  You can bring your bike onto the rest of the Esplanade, but must not leave it unattended. Any bikes attached or locked to security fences, poles, trees, or other structures may be removed by security.

Additional prohibited items:  Alcoholic beverages, blankets, tents, or pop-ups larger than 10 feet by 10 feet, firearms, weapons, sharp objects (including knitting needles, can openers, knives, etc), glass containers, non-clear containers, cans, pre-mixed beverages, unsealed water bottles and any other open containers capable of holding alcohol, sealed clear plastic containers bigger than 2 liters, grills, drones. 

Considering smuggling in booze or other contraband? 

Be aware that 1) alcohol is forbidden and 2) security cameras line the Esplanade and the Cambridge embankment.

More about July 4th on Boston's Esplanade: Toilets, Food, & More

You'll be happy to know that hundreds portable toilets are located throughout the Boston and Cambridge areas along the river during this event.  You'll also probably be glad to know that they're usually reasonably clean and non-smelly. 

However, you should bring your own supply of tissues and hand sanitizer, because keeping these replenished for potentially a million users is a tough challenge for the park service.

You'll also spot lots of concession stands selling food, non-alcoholic drinks, and souvenirs such as t-shirts. 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts controls food and beverage concessions, and the City of Boston regulates merchandise concession prices, so they're usually fairly reasonable. 

Vendors donate all merchandise profits to help fund the concert and fireworks event.

Feel free bring your own food and (non-alcoholic) beverages.  In fact, you'll probably see lots of envy-inducing fancy spreads.

More about Best Places to View the July 4th Fireworks from Boston and Cambridge

Waiting on the Boston bank of the Charles River to see the fireworks
Staking out a spot on the Charles River banks to watch the fireworks

If watching the fireworks is your main goal, you'll find plenty of great spots along the 3-mile long Boston Esplanade as well as on the Cambridge side of the Charles River. 

The fireworks are launched from barges between the Longfellow and Mass Ave Bridges, but they shoot so high up in the sky that you can see them for miles around. 

As a generalization, good viewing sites are more plentiful on the Cambridge side, partly because it has fewer trees and partly because it attracts smaller crowds. 

Several viewing spots beyond the river banks to consider:  the BU Bridge, the grassy lawn (Killian Court) in front of MIT on the Cambridge side of the river, and the top of Bunker Hill in Charlestown.  

To get a prime spot in any of these locations, you'll need to arrive several hours early. 

The Mass Ave and Longfellow Bridges are closed to viewers, although they will be open to pedestrians earlier in the day.

Charles River
View of the Charles River, Back Bay, and Cambridge - If you look closely, you can see the rounded arch of the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, where the concert takes place; fireworks are launched nearby in the river

Castle Island is also a popular viewing spot because even though the view of the Boston fireworks will be slightly obstructed (you're 3 miles away with a good-sized chunk of downtown Boston between you and the launch site), if you get there early enough, you can also see fireworks from a couple of other nearby towns. 

Plus, Castle Island is a beautiful spot and usually gets cool breezes on even the hottest July day.

What's important to remember, though, is that Boston's fireworks make a huge display, totally lighting up the sky. 

As long as you're not behind a tall building blocking the view, you're going to be able to see the show easily from many Boston and Cambridge locations, so it's not worth obsessing about finding the "perfect" spot. 

Boston fireworks
Boston July 4th fireworks viewed from Cambridge by Longfellow Bridge

Fourth of July Fireworks Viewing Cruises

Many people feel the best place to view the fireworks is on the water. 

Here are some of the most popular fireworks and other cruises in early July:

Another Fun Option

  • Rent a canoe and watch the fireworks from the music.  For more information, contact Charles River Canoe and Kayak, 617-965-5110; website  (Boston Insider tip:  Once you're sure you want to do this, reserve your canoe as soon as possible to avoid disappointment!) 

Private Charters

For the ultimate experience, charter a boat.  Here are cruise and boat companies offering charters:

  • Elite Private Yachts - 800-700-0735
  • Cruise Boston Yacht Charters - 617-621-3001
  • Liberty Fleet - 617-742-0333
  • Mass Bay Lines - 617-542-8000
Fireworks in Boston on July 4th
Spectators watching fireworks from the Boston side of the river

Best Boston Hotels with Fireworks Views

If you're staying in a Boston hotel for July 4th, keep in mind that several offer spectacular views - although you need to request a room with a river view on a higher floor when making your reservations, and confirm the view. 

Public spaces in many of these hotels may also offer terrific views.

Boston and Cambridge hotels for viewing the July 4th fireworks

Will Rain - Or Thunderstorms - Stop the Fireworks?

Light rain isn't an issue, but yes, thunderstorms can pose a show-stopping problem for the concert and fireworks. 

In the event of lightening or strong wind, personnel must be evacuated from the barges in the river where the fireworks are launched, and lightening could pose a danger for the crowds of spectators along the river banks as well.

In the most threatening storm situations, spectators will also need to be evacuated. 

In regard to the possibility of a last-minute cancellation of the show due to weather conditions, a spokesperson for the show has been quoted as saying, "We will consult with our weather forecasters and a team of public safety officials before any decision is made.. . . . As always, the main thing is public safety. We are not going to endanger the public.”

As anyone from Boston or elsewhere in New England knows, our July weather can be tricky... cloudless blue skies one moment can morph into a dramatic thunderstorm the next. 

Boston Insider Tip:   What Happens When a Severe Storm Strikes on July 4th?

Fortunately, severe storms do not often happen at the right time to disrupt the concert or fireworks.

However, strong lightening near the Esplanade did in fact delay the Pops concert several years ago. 

Following safety protocols, many spectators and orchestra members evacuated to the Storrow Drive tunnels (which closed to vehicular traffic earlier in the day) for safety.  

Next, a drenching downpour sent most other spectators scrambling for shelter until the rain stopped. 

In this particular case, the fireworks began more or less on time - and were more spectacular than ever.

Worst case (which also happened a few years ago), when bad weather is predicted in advance, the July 4th celebration may take place on the 3rd. 

Postponing the event to July 5th is much less likely, as performers usually have other commitments and can't reschedule.

Public Transportation: Getting to the Concerts and Fireworks

The best way to get to the Pops concert and Boston fireworks show is by public transportation and/or walking, as parking is very limited in the area and crowds are dense. 

More people than cars will fill the streets, making driving (or taking an uber) even more difficult than usual. 

Many streets near the Esplanade including Memorial Drive and Storrow Drive will be closed to traffic, and those that remain open will be gridlocked after the fireworks end.

Public transportation (subway, buses, trolleys, trains, commuter rail) will be free after 9:30pm on July 4th. 

Transportation services will operate on a Saturday or Sunday schedule for most of the day, although subways will start rush-hour service at 2pm.  

Bicycles will be prohibited on all subway lines throughout July 4th, and on inbound commuter-rail trains from 10am-6am, and on outbound trains after 4pm on July 4th. 

Commuter rails will wait for 30 minutes after the fireworks to give spectators time to board.  That's not actually a lot of time since you need to get from your viewing spot to your station.  Dense crowds will make walking slower than usual.

Closest T Stations for Boston Fireworks:

  • Boston - Green Line/Arlington or Boylston; Red Line/Park Street

More to Do on July 4th:  Boston Cruises

Television, Mobile, Live Stream, & Radio Broadcasts of Boston's July 4th Show

Boston Pops Concert in the Hatch Shell
Boston Pops July 4th Concert in the Hatch Shell
Photo by Jay Connor, courtesy of Boston 4 Productions

Can't attend Boston's July 4th concert and fireworks in person? 

Join millions of folks across the country in watching or listening to the festivities through one of these options:

  • Television - Bloomberg Television (DISH: 203, DirecTV: 353, RCN: 325, 672); Comcast subscribers within the Greater Boston area can find Bloomberg Television on channels 45, 757, or 844; outside of the area, check your local listings.  The show will also be simulcast on Boston's WHDH-TV, and live-streamed online at
  • Radio - Listen to the show on Bloomberg radio (106.1 FM / 1330 AM / 1450 AM / 92.9-HD2 in Boston and Newburyport.  Nationally, tune in on SiriusXM Channel 119) and online at; on mobile, on the Bloomberg and iHeartRadio apps

Note:  All times are ET (Eastern Time zone), and all dates/times are subject to change (which does occasionally happen for weather-related reasons - Boston's July thunderstorms can be fierce!)

More Independence Celebrations in Boston

In addition to the Pops concert and July 4th fireworks, you can also celebrate the holiday at Boston's big Harborfest, which takes place each year during early July. 

Harborfest hosts its own gala 15-minute fireworks show over the Inner Harbor on July 2, and also includes the ever-popular Chowderfest where Boston restaurants and bars compete to determine who makes the best clam chowder.

In addition, Harborfest includes a lot of other activities and celebrations - so check it out!

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