A Historic Fourth of July in Massachusetts!

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In just a couple of days, food will be on the grill, parades will be marching through town and fireworks will zip up into the sky, as the Fourth of July returns again. And while the 4th is always a great time in Massachusetts, this year’s celebration promises to be one for the ages, something truly special.

Admittedly, 2014 probably doesn’t spring to mind as a particularly meaningful Independence Day anniversary, but a combination of events add up to make this year’s holiday exactly that.

Here’s what will make the upcoming Fourth of July so exceptional:

See the Boston Pops (and maybe conduct them later!)

UPDATE: Due to some nasty weather on the way, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular has been moved to Thursday, July 3 at 8:00 p.m. For more information, visit massvacation.com.

For the first time ever, one of the nation’s most storied traditions will be broadcasted live online, allowing interested viewers from all over to tune in and watch. Along the banks of the Charles River, Keith Lockhart will lead the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra as they play perhaps their most anticipated show of the year.

Boston Pops

Photo: The Boston Pops perform on the Esplanade

The 2014 set will also feature appearances from more than a few other musical luminaries, including the Beach Boys, Megan Hilty and the Boston Children’s Chorus, before concluding with the 1812 Overture finale and magnificent fireworks.

The run up to this year’s show will also come with a special twist; before the performance starts, if you tweet #WatchthePops, you’ll be entered to win a stay in Boston and the opportunity to conduct the Pops at Symphony Hall! For more info on the sweepstakes, click here.

Elsewhere in Boston, there’ll be all kinds of fun to be had both before and after the holiday. Boston Harborfest, which spreads hundreds of events across five days, will kick off its own festivities on July 2 and go strong through the weekend, with cruises, guided tours, scavenger hunts, film presentations and a whole lot more in the mix. A number of historic sites, including Faneuil Hall, the Old North Church and Charlestown Navy Yard will also be hosting events throughout the holiday period, which you can explore further here.

USS Constitution

Photo: The U.S.S. Constitution at Charlestown Navy Yard

For those looking to stay in the area, a number of Boston hotels will have deals for the holiday weekend. The Seaport Boston Hotel will have discounted rates, and the Hotel Marlowe will, too. To see the full range of nearby lodging options in the city, click here.

The Charles W. Morgan in New Bedford

After visits to Connecticut, Rhode Island and a variety of Massachusetts ports, the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s oldest floating commercial ship, has once again docked in New Bedford, from where she first set sail more than 150 years ago. And while the Morgan has now safely arrived, the fun honoring her journey will last throughout the weekend.

On Independence Day itself, the former whaling capital of the world will have fireworks going off at 9 p.m., which will be visible from a number of lookout points in the historic downtown area.

Downtown New Bedford

Photo: Downtown New Bedford by Tim Grafft

Saturday and Sunday will keep the festivities rolling, as the New Bedford Folk Festival comes to town, bringing along seven stages and some of New England’s finest talent. Check the festival map before you go, which has all the basics on navigation, parking and the like.

All Around Massachusetts

Of course, Boston and New Bedford are just two of the Massachusetts cities and towns that will be celebrating America’s birthday in a big way.

In Central Massachusetts, Shrewsbury will have clowns, food, face-painting and much more family-friendly fun, while the Fruitlands Museum and Old Sturbridge Village will both host their own parties.

For those nearer to the western side of the Commonwealth, the Pittsfield Parade is always worth seeing, with its lively array of musical acts, balloons and delightfully creative floats. To the north, Williamstown will also host its own event, as will Springfield in the Pioneer Valley.

Springfield 4th

Photo: Independence Day fireworks in Springfield

Cape Cod is another spot that has earned a reputation with its Fourth of July festivities and there’s no doubt that tradition will continue this year. Chatham, Barnstable Village, Provincetown and Wellfleet will each have their own parades, while Edgartown revels in its annual cookout extravaganza on Martha’s Vineyard.

In the north of Boston region, there’ll be quite a scene as well, with more than 10 different towns hosting their own parties. Salisbury Beach will surely be one of the big draws, tempting families with games, live music, pizza, fried dough, cotton candy and more. And to see a real one-of-a-kind procession, check out the colorfully named Fishtown Horribles Parade on July 3 in Gloucester.

You can find more information on Fourth of July celebrations across Massachusetts here. To learn a little more about what takes place in these spots during the rest of the summer, just click here.

What do you like most about the Fourth of July? Let us know in the comments!

  • Mary King

    I am sooo looking forward to the live streamed broadcast here in Florida! It’s going to be the highlight of my whole day. Praying that the storm will stay away. Good luck to all the performers and planners that have worked so very hard to put this program together.

    • MassVacation

      Absolutely, Mary. The performance did get moved up to tonight, because of the weather, so if you’d like to watch, make sure to tune in tonight at 8 p.m.!