Washington DC is a spectacular place to celebrate July 4th! The National Mall, with Washington DC’s monuments and the US Capitol in the background, forms a beautiful and patriotic backdrop to America’s Independence Day celebrations. This is an all-day event in the nation’s capital, beginning with a parade along Constitution Avenue and ending with a spectacular display of fireworks over the Washington Monument. Following is a guide to all of the 4th of July events on the National Mall.
The 4th of July celebrations in Washington, DC are among the most attended events of the year and many people arrive early to stake out a seat on the lawn. There are plenty of activities scheduled throughout the day to keep the whole family busy.
Getting to the National Mall
The best way to get to the National Mall is to take the Metro. Stations nearby include Metro Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Judiciary Square, Federal Triangle and L’Enfant Plaza.The Smithsonian Metro station will be closed for most of the day for security reasons. The station will reopen for entry-only shortly after the fireworks show has concluded to help get people home. It typically takes 1 ½ to 2 hours to clear the Mall after the fireworks.
Public access to the National Mall begins at 10:00 a.m., with all visitors required to enter via a security checkpoint. Read more about getting to the National Mall, public transportation, parking, security and road closures.
Washington, DC’s Independence Day Parade
Parade Start Time: 11:45 a.m.
Parade Route: Constitution Avenue and 7th to 17th Sts.
Washington, DC’s 4th of July Parade features marching bands, military and specialty units, floats, and VIP’s. The parade draws a large crowd, so plan to arrive early to stake out a good viewing spot.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The annual event includes daily and evening music and dance performances, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling and discussions of cultural issues. The themes of the 2012 program will be: Campus and Community, Citified: Arts and Creativity East of the Anacostia River and Creativity and Crisis: Unfolding The AIDS Memorial Quilt. The hours on the 4th of July are 11 a.m to 5 p.m.
4th of July at the National Archives
The National Archives celebrates the 4th of July with special family programming celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Visit the National Archives Building for this special birthday party from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
White House Visitor Center Family Events
Between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., stop at the White House Visitor Center and enjoy games, crafts and other activities celebrating America’s Birthday. National Park Service rangers and volunteers will give you the opportunity to sample the sights, sounds, activities and personages that helped finalize the Declaration of Independence and create the United States of America on July 4, 1776.
Concert on the Washington Monument Grounds
From 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. the U.S. Navy Band perfroms on the Southwest corner of the grounds of the Washington Monument. The concert includes the talents of the U.S. Air Force Band, featuring American country music artist, Jo Dee Messina.
A Capitol Fourth Concert
Time: 8 – 9:30 p.m. (Admittance begins at 3 p.m.)
Location: West Lawn of the U. S. Capitol
A 4th of July tradition in the nation’s capital includes a live concert by the National Symphony Orchestra and several pop artists performing patriotic music on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building. The concert and show is followed by a spectacular display of fireworks over the Washington Monument. The concert is free and open to the public. No tickets are necessary. The annual event will be broadcast live on WETA TV 26 with a repeat airing at 10:00 p.m.
4th of July Fireworks on the National Mall
Fireworks Time: At dark, usually around 9:15 p.m. Rain Date: July 5th
Launch Location: The fireworks are launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and light up the sky over the Washington Monument.
Best Places to View the National Mall Fireworks
East Potomac Park
Rooftop Bars in Washington DC
Rooftop of the W Hotel (tickets required)
Anywhere along the National Mall between 14th Street and the Capitol
Aboard a cruise along the Potomac River (tickets required)
Spectacular views of the fireworks can also be seen from the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima) in Arlington, Virginia near the Rosslyn Metro station and areas along the Virginia side of the Potomac River that can be reached from George Washington Memorial Parkway. You may park at the Gravelly Point parking lot, which is about a quarter mile from the 14th Street Bridge. Another great place to watch the fireworks is from the Air Force Memorial on Columbia Pike.