A Guide to July 4th in Washington, DC


The 4th of July is such a fun holiday, especially here in our nation’s capital. There are countless ways to celebrate America’s 243rd birthday in our greater DC community. We have pulled together a list of some of our favorite events and hope that it helps you plan a fun-filled and safe celebration. Please note that all events listed are scheduled for July 4th, unless otherwise indicated.


Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins
July 3rd at 6:05pm
July 4th at 11:05am

Start off your celebration of America’s birthday by watching America’s favorite pastime. Enjoy family-friendly food and fun, cheer on the Racing Presidents, and enjoy postgame fireworks (only after the July 3rd game). It’s sure to be a hit! (My apologies…I just couldn’t resist that pun.)

View DC Fireworks from Fort Washington Park
9am – 9:45pm
Fort Washington, MD

This historic fort is situated on the banks of the Potomac River. It stays open late on July 4th so that guests can enjoy views of fireworks displays in DC and the Virginia shore. The fort will close after the fireworks are over.

“An American Celebration” at Mount Vernon
8am – 5pm
Mount Vernon, VA

This annual Independence Day event held at the verdant estate of our nation’s first President will include military re-enactments, cannon fire, and daytime fireworks. Your family can also partake in free birthday cake, enjoy a performance by the National Concert Band, and observe a naturalization ceremony for new citizens. It is suggested that tickets be purchased in advance.


Visit the National Archives Museum
8am – 5:30pm
Washington, DC

We are so fortunate to have our nation’s founding documents in our own backyard. Consider visiting the National Archives as a sort of pre-game for the National Independence Day Parade (which begins at 11:45), and note that the steps of the Archives are a great spot to view the parade. At 8am, the first 1,000 guests will receive a free T-shirt. A Declaration of Independence Reading Ceremony will take place at 10am and will include a fife and drum corps performance. Throughout the day, visitors can enjoy family activities such as a “Declaring Independence” scavenger hunt, making colonial-style wigs and dressing in period costumes, setting your name in type, and much more. If you want to view the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, you can reserve timed-entry tickets or space in a once-daily docent-led tour online. Admission is free, but there is a service charge for online reservations.

Independence Day Concert
11am, 12pm, and 1pm
National Air and Space Museum
Washington, DC

Celebrate the 4th of July with a special performance by the United States Air Force Band’s Ceremonial Brass Quintet. Each of the three concerts will last 20 minutes.
These free concerts will feature vocal and instrumental selections from a variety of musical genres including big band, jazz, popular, patriotic, and classical. World-class musicians from the U.S. military are sure to both entertain and inspire you.


National Independence Day Parade
11:45am – 2pm
Constitution Ave between 7th and 17th Streets NW
Washington, DC

This parade is a fun-filled, flag-waving, patriotic way to celebrate July 4th. It will include marching bands from across the United States, fife and drum corps, military and specialty units, floats, giant balloons, dignitaries, and more. It is free and no ticket is required. The parade organizers suggest that it gets less crowded as one moves toward 17th Street, so viewing may be better at that end of the route.

Salute to America
6:30pm – 7:30pm
Lincoln Memorial
Washington, DC

New to this year’s 4th of July lineup is President Trump’s honoring of our nation’s military. As of the time of this publication, full details have not been released regarding the schedule, however we know that performances will be made by the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”), the Armed Forces Chorus, and the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team. Military demonstrations and flyovers are also expected to be part of the programming. Gates will open at 3:30pm.

A Capitol Fourth
8pm – 9:30pm
West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC

This annual concert tradition precedes the fireworks display over the National Mall. It is televised live on PBS and the American Forces Network. John Stamos will once again host the event and performers include Carole King with the Broadway cast of the Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning musical “Beautiful” starring Vanessa Carlton, electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling, Vanessa Williams, Lee Brice, Colbie Caillat, and more. The concert will also feature the Sesame Street Muppets performing a musical medley of patriotic favorites and iconic songs. The National Symphony Orchestra will perform as well, including their grand finale of the “1812 Overture” during the fireworks display. This event is free and no ticket is required. However, if you want to attend the concert, plan on arriving early to get a spot. Gates open at 3pm. The U.S. Capitol Police have provided information about the concert, street closures, prohibited items, and street closures.  

Insider tip: If you want to experience the concert without the hassle of the July 4th crowds, you can attend a full concert dress rehearsal on July 3rd. Gates will open at 3pm and the rehearsal will begin at 8pm.


Fireworks over the National Mall
9:07pm – 9:27pm 
Washington, DC
The pinnacle of DC Independence Day celebrations is the city’s traditional fireworks display. This year, the fireworks will be launched from West Potomac Park and some areas previously closed to spectators will be open including the World War II Memorial, Reflecting Pool, Constitution Gardens, and behind the Lincoln Memorial. Expect security screenings and make sure you are aware of prohibited items. If you are the hearty sort and a want to make a day of it, you can claim your spot on the Mall in the morning beginning at 10am. If you are looking for places to watch the fireworks, check out these ideas

Helpful Hints:

The National Park Service provides all sorts of useful information to help ensure that your family has a safe and enjoyable 4th of July on the Mall. Take a look at their site for security information, lists of prohibited items, and maps (which has information such as where bathrooms will be located).

With all of these fun events come the requisite road closures and transportation issues. Check out the National Park Service site for a list of road and site closures. The list is marked as “tentative” at the time of this publication, so please make sure you check out the finalized list closer to the 4th of July. 

If you prefer to not be in DC for July 4th, here are some alternative places to celebrate Independence Day, as well as lists of events throughout Maryland and Virginia.

Previous articleHave a Dino-mite Summer at the National Zoo
Next articleMaking Time to Read for Busy Moms
Julie Hart
Julie is a proud born and bred Texan, but has called DC home since 2001. She studied at the University of Texas and then moved to DC to get her MPA at the George Washington University. Julie worked for ten years for a Member of Congress, where she loved working to impact public policy. In 2013, her world turned inside out when she gave birth to twins and decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Currently Julie lives in the H Street Corridor with her husband, two kids, and their increasingly grouchy senior dog, Presley. Yes, please: movie dates with her husband, trying new restaurants, exploring DC with her kids, last minute road trips, being outdoors, festivals (of any kind), girls’ night out, and a rainy day with “Pride and Prejudice.” No, thank you: hot and humid summers, mistreating animals, Legos (ouch!), public speaking, laundry, raw fish