Join Boston's Week-Long Independence Day Celebration
Boston Harborfest, the largest Independence Day festival in the United States, celebrates Boston's colonial, Revolutionary War, and maritime history and heritage with fireworks, entertainers, historical reenactments, music, events along the Freedom Trail, Harbor cruises, walking tours, plus a lot more!
Almost 3 million people from all over the world visit Boston during early July.
Visit Downtown Crossing, where local artists will display and sell the work from 10am-6pm. If you're visiting Boston, an original work of art by a Boston artist could be your special souvenir!
July 1-3: Live Music
Come enjoy a variety of musical acts in Downtown Crossing by mostly local groups from our vibrant Boston music scene. July 2: Harborfest Opening Ceremony
Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 11am-1pm - Boston Mayor Marty Walsh launches Harborfest in this festive event at Faneuil Hall on the Freedom Trail with speeches and cutting of the Official Boston Harborfest cake. Costumed reenactors add authenticity.
July 2: Chowderfest!
Back by popular demand, the Chowderfest returns to Harborfest from 12 noon - 2pm and gives you the opportunity to taste free samples of authentic clam chowder made by top Boston restaurants and vote to determine which is the best in the city. The Merchant, Waterline, and Artisan Bistro are among the participating restaurants.
July 2: Parade of Lights & Fireworks on the Harbor
Brightly-lit boats of all shapes and sizes form a sparkling parade around the Inner Harbor and Seaport waterfront at 8:30pm, followed by dazzling fireworks lighting up the sky at 9pm.
Enjoy the views along the Downtown Waterfront, Seaport and East Boston shore - or treat yourself to front-row seats on these special Parade of Lights/Fireworks harbor cruises:
The USS Constitution makes her annual turn-around cruise in Boston Harbor each Fourth of July to celebrate our nation's independence.
The magnificent 204 foot-long wood-hulled ship which first launched in 1797 and is 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 and exchange cannon fire with Boston's Coast Guard Base in the North End.
Departure from Charlestown Navy Yard's Pier One takes place at 10:45am and she returns to her Navy Yard berth across from the USS Constitution Museum at 2pm.
Watch from points along the harbor or Castle Island, or even better, from the water on the Schooner Adirondack III or the Northern Lights:
July 4: City of Boston's Independence Day Ceremony
Join a flag-raising ceremony on City Hall Plaza at 9am followed by a parade to the Granary Burying Ground where wreathes will be laid on the graves of the Patriots buried there. Afterwards, the parade continues to its destination, the Old State House.
More Harborfest Events - July 1 - 7
Revolutionary King's Chapel Talks
10am-5pm, every half hour at starting at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour (58 Tremont Street) - Stories about key figures and events at pre-revolutionary King's Chapel on the Freedom Trail. Free, but suggested donation to visit the chapel is $4. July 1 - 7.
Redcoats: Changing of the Guard Ceremony
You'll feel like you're back in Colonial Boston in 1775 when you watch this special reenactment of the Redcoats' Changing of the Guard Ceremony and watch costumed reenactors interact with them from 12 noon - 2pm. Downtown Crossing at Washington and Summer Streets. Free.
Freedom Trail Walk into History Tours
From 10:15am - 6pm on July 1-4, you can join daily tours along the Freedom Trail led by costumed guides. Tours leave on the hour every hour from the Boston Common Visitor Information Center (139 Tremont Street) and last 90 minutes each. Adults $14, Seniors/Students $12, Children 6-12 $8.
Where to Stay during Boston's Harborfest
Many of the city's most popular hotels will become fully booked during the Harborfest period and rates will reflect summer peaks - but there are always good options whwen you know where to look. Here's some information to help you get started:
You will find the best rates if you book early and stay flexible about the location, especially since Boston is a very walkable city and has decent public transportation.
More Things to Do and See in Boston
More Events & Tours at Historic Sites
Most of these events require small admission fees which support the upkeep of these historic Freedom Trail sites.
Old North Church
Visit Captain Jackson's Historic Chocolate Shop (21 Unity Street, Boston's North End, inside the Clough House by Old North Church) where costumed Colonial reenactors will show you how chocolate was made during the 18th century. See Old North Church's photography exhibit commemorating bravery and action. More info: https://oldnorth.com
An Irish Christmas Carol Cruise - Get into the holiday spirit with Slainte, the Northern Lights' house Irish band. Raise your glass as you join in singing some merry Irish holiday ballads on this 90 minute Harbor cruise - Find out more
Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise - Join in singing your favorite Christmas holiday songs led by City of Four, Northern Lights' house R&B/funk band, on this cozy 90 minute Harbor Cruise with drinks and snacks available for purchase at the yacht's Main Deck Bar. - Find out more
Holiday Sunset Cruise - As the ship's captain points out highlights of passing landmarks and soft music plays in the background, watch the ever-changing sunset colors as the sun sets behind Boston's city skyline on this relaxing 90 minute cruise around the Harbor. Find out more
Holiday Jazz Cruise - Relax to the sounds of jazzy Christmas tunes and enjoy an adult beverage on this 90 minute romantic evening cruise past iconic attractions along the Boston waterfront - Find out more
Holiday Brunch Cruise - See historic sights and panoramic views around Boston Harbor as you enjoy this 2 hour narrated cruise including hot chocolate and brunch (Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and spiked hot chocolate available at the bar) - Find out more
Cocoa & Blues Holiday Cruise - Enjoy Boston's sparkling skyline at night along with spiked hot chocolate or a glass of champagne as City of Four, Northern Lights' house R&B/funk band, plays contemporary versions of holiday classics inspired by Stevie Wonder, James Brown, and the Temptations - Find out more
Adirondack III Cruises:
Returns in the spring!
July 4th Cruises
Enjoy a spectacular cruise around Boston Harbor on the 4th - as well as almost every other day this summer. The following companies offer fireworks cruises on the 4th, regular cruises at other times, and/or charters:
Where: Primarily in Central Boston neighborhoods, Boston Harbor, and along the Freedom Trail: Historic Downtown, West End, Downtown Waterfront, North End, Charlestown, Beacon Hill - use our Boston Sightseeing map to see neighborhood locations
Cost: Free events, as well as others with admission charges
Many events require reservations - make them early!
Get a Boston Discount Card to get discounts on some events and admission fees; if in doubt, be sure to verify that you can use the card for specific Harborfest events
Make hotel reservations as early as possible to get the best rates; Boston gets VERY crowded during early July because Harborfest, the July 4th Fireworks, and the Boston Pops concerts attract HUGE numbers of visitors to the city
More Events at Harborfest Venues
Many of the attractions listed above offer additional events during Harborfest and throughout the summer. Check their websites to find out more:
Old State House: www.revolutionaryboston.org/revboston/events/upcoming
Check out all our tips on how to find discounts, deals, and promo codes for Boston hotels. Whether you're looking for bargain accommodations or want to pay less for luxury, we'll show you How to Save on Hotels in Boston.