Boston Harborfest 2018
Boston Harborfest 2018 kicks off this weekend. Photo by Getty Images

Boston’s history and heritage will be on full display when Boston Harborfest 2018, the largest Fourth of July festival in the country, returns for its 37th anniversary this weekend. Walk the Freedom Trail, see historical reenactments and purchase themed artwork to ring in Independence Day. Dusty Rhodes, the president of Conventures, which produces Harborfest, says she expects more than 10,000 people to attend Harborfest events over the course of the weekend. Here are five reasons why you don’t want to miss Boston Harborfest 2018.

5 can't-miss Boston Harborfest 2018 events

Join Mayor Walsh to kick off the festival

To mark the start of Boston Harborfest 2018, Mayor Marty Walsh will cut an official Harborfest cake as the United States Navy Band and the Northeast Ceremonial Band entertain the crowd. Mayor Walsh will cut the ceremonial cake with a cutlass.

Thursday, June 28, 9:30 a.m., Faneuil Hall, 4 S Market St.

 

Watch fireworks illuminate the Boston shoreline

Enjoy live roots music from the Somerville-based Squeezebox Stompers and the Sweet Harmony performance troupe before a display of fireworks lights up the sky above Boston Harbor. No ticket is required to see these brilliant colors on the Esplanade. And though watching the fireworks off of Long Wharf with thousands of other Harborfest attendees sounds like fun, you can check them out from any shoreline from Charlestown to the Seaport and East Boston.

Saturday, June 30, 9 p.m.-9:30 p.m., Boston Harbor off of Long Wharf 

Take in all that Boston’s art scene has to offer

Artists Crossing, a Boston-based former gallery and curating collective, partnered with the organizers of Harborfest to put together “Art in the Park,” an art show with nautical works by 18 Boston-area artists accompanied by live performing artists all day long.

Sunday, July 1, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Christopher Columbus Park 

Boston Harborfest 2018 July 4

Participate in fun Freedom Trail tours and events

You can walk the historic Freedom Trail any day of the year, but around the Fourth, Bostonians and visitors alike are all looking to get a deeper sense of the city’s and country’s history.  “Walk into History” tours highlight the area’s revolutionary background. More daily North End Tours will take you through Boston’s oldest neighborhood, where you can see Old North Church, the starting point for Paul Revere’s Ride. Take a free tour focusing on the art and architecture or revolutionary history of the King’s Chapel. Return to the neighborhood later for a historic pub crawl, taking you to four eighteenth-century watering holes that fomented Revolutionary spirit.

Various times, various locations

Join the Independence Day Turnaround Ceremony

Take part in the City of Boston’s official Independence Day celebration, complete with a flag-raising ceremony and subsequent march to the Granary Burial Ground to commemorate lives lost in the Revolutionary War. You’ll get to show reverence to patriots buried there, such as Paul Revere and John Hancock.

Wednesday, July 4, 9:00 a.m., City Hall Plaza, 1 City Hall Square

If you go: 

June 28-July 4, various locations, bostonharborfest.com

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