It’s back: the legendary Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. On the Fourth of July, fireworks will light up the sky over the Charles River and the music of the Boston Pops will funnel along the Esplanade. Whether you’re heading out to see the fireworks or watching them from your home, here’s what you need to know about the iconic Independence Day event.
What time it starts, and where
The Spectacular is held at the DCR Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston. Gates open to get into the secured areas near the concert space at 9 a.m. The concert kicks off at 8 p.m., and the fireworks show begins at 10:30 p.m. You do not need tickets to the event. Visitors are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.
Newton native Rachel Platten will headline the show this year. Grammy Award-winning artists Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls will perform, as will Broadway star and EGOT-winner Rita Moreno. The Boston Pops will pay tribute to Leonard Bernstein, a Lawrence native, Harvard alumnus, and former music director of the New York Philharmonic.
What you can and can’t bring to the Esplanade
The two security-cleared areas include the Oval in front of the Hatch Shell and the Island/Lagoon, and visitors will need a wristband to pass through a security checkpoint into those areas. On July 4, the checkpoints will open at 9 a.m. All personal items must be carried in a clear bag, and liquids less than two liters must be in sealed, clear plastic containers, according to organizers. Guests can report any suspicious activity using a Text-A-Tip line set up by the Massachusetts State Police. Visitors must type B4 directly before their tip and send to 67283.
Here’s the full list of items you can and can’t bring.
- Coolers on wheels
- Firearms, weapons, sharp objects, or fireworks
- Glass containers
- Alcoholic beverages
- Pre-mixed beverages
- Liquids in sealed plastic containers over 2 liters
- Propane tanks or open flames
- Bicycles aren’t allowed through the checkpoints, but you can bring them to other parts of the Esplanade as long as they are not left unattended. Bicycles attached or locked to fences or poles or other structures may be subject to removal, according to the Massachusetts State Police.
- Pop-up tents and canopies, up to 10-by-10 feet, without sides (allowed only on July 4, not on July 3)
- Blankets or tarps no bigger than 10-by-10 feet
- Folding or beach chairs
- Small clutches or purses can be taken in following inspection with your clear bag
- Coolers carried by shoulder strap or a single handle (no coolers on wheels)
How you should get there
If you’re planning to drive into Boston to see the fireworks, it’s a good idea to plan your route before you go, as many streets will be closed to traffic or impacted by parking restrictions. According to the event website, the Motor Mart Garage at 201 Stuart St. is a good place to park because it’s an easy walk from there to the Esplanade. Here’s the full list of streets affected by the fireworks.
How to hear and see the festivities if you’re not there
If you aren’t going to attend the event, you can still catch the concert and fireworks display on your TV, computer, smartphone, or radio. The show will be broadcast on Bloomberg TV and Boston’s WHDH-TV starting at 8 p.m. As in the past, the event will be streamed on Bloomberg.com and the Bloomberg mobile app at 8 p.m. However, this year Boston.com, BostonGlobe.com, and BostonPopsJuly4th.org will also host streams at 8 p.m. If you prefer listening on the radio, the show will be streamed through Bloomberg’s Boston and Newburyport stations at 106.1 FM, 1330 AM, 1450 AM, and 92.9-HD2. Plymouth’s WPLM will also broadcast the event for the first time this year to listeners on the South Shore and Cape Cod and in Southeastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island. You can find the audio stream nationally on SiriusXM channel 119, at bloombergradio.com, and on Bloomberg Radio and iHeart Radio apps.
What else there is to do on the Fourth of July
Not feeling a day spent on the Esplanade waiting for the show to begin? You can head to the Old State House for a reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony, the place where the document was first read to Bostonians in 1776. The reading starts at 9 a.m. If you want to tour the inside of the museum, which opens at 9 a.m., admission is $10 for adults, $8.50 for students and seniors over age 62, and free for children under age 18.
Over at the Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum, there will be a one-day presentation on July 4 of two historic documents: the 1776 Treaty of Watertown, our country’s first international agreement, and a 1776 letter from George Washington to the Massachusetts General Court. You can also view an original copy of the Declaration of Independence signed by John Hancock. The museum will be open on July 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and admission and parking are free.
Photos: Boston’s Fourth of July celebration through the years
Additional reporting by Dialynn Dwyer and Kevin Slane.