As the birthplace of American independence, Philly knows how to celebrate Independence Day in style. This includes more than 50 events from June 29 to July 4 during the Wawa Welcome America festival. The festival gets better each year, with free events including museum days and outdoor concerts. Here's your guide to celebrating all things Philly and Independence Day throughout the next week.
Dessert lovers, this event is the one for you. Kick off the weekend with sweet treats and games during Philly Ice Cream Scoop (June 29, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at Reading Terminal Market (51 N 12th St.) More than 14 of the best ice cream makers will team up with merchants in the Market to create delicious ice cream specials. Admission is free, and food is pay as you go.
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After eating all the ice cream you possibly can, head to the Free Library of Philadelphia (1901 Vine St.) for Free Museum Day at the library's Rare Book Department (June 29, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) As one of the largest collections of its kind in the United States, the Library's musem includes original illustrations by Beatrix Potter and one of the largest collections of Edgar Allen Poe books.
This Sunday evening has two amazing outdoor performances to choose from. See an outdoor screening of a film beloved by Philadelphians with one of its most famous filming ations in the background during Chase Presents Philly at the Movies: "Rocky" (June 30, 7 p.m.). The event in front of the Free Museum of Philadelphia (2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkway) kicks off at 7 p.m. with a Rocky and Creed lookalike contest. Since a night at the movies isn't complete without snacks, there will be free popcorn and Tastykakes.
Across town, get ready for a moving performance during Gospel on Independence (June 30, 7 p.m.) featuring more than 100 voices from the Philadelphia Men's Fellowship Choir and chorus members from churches across the city. Don't miss a special appearance from the "The Sisterly Love" choir during this concert under the stars at Independence Hall (520 Chestnut St). Bring a blanket or chair to enjoy the show.
It wouldn't be a festival sponsored by Wawa without their signature hoagies. See a sandwich building competition and get free hoagies during Wawa Hoagie Day (July 2, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.) complete with an 8-ton hoagie salute and music by the United States Army Field Band, all taking place in front of the Constitution Center (525 Arch St).
Keep the party going with a detour to Broadway during Kimmel Center's Great American Party on the Plaza (July 2, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) The Kimmel Center (300 S Broad St.) is bringing festival-style entertainment to their grand hall, and a chance to see performances from the cast members of hit Broadway shows "Dear Evan Hansen" and "Mean Girls". Get ready for a special singalong show based on a certain musical about Alexander Hamilton's life during HamilTunes, performed by members of the Kimmel Center ShowStoppers education program.
A beloved tradition returns to the lawn in front of Independence Hall (520 Chestnut St.) during Philly POPS on Independence (July 3, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.). The Philly POPS Orchestra will perform a series of hits with special guest singer Susan Egan. The Tony-nominated singer and actress is known for her perfomances as Disney princesses Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" on Broadway, and Meg from "Hercules".
The Festival concludes with the Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert & Fireworks (July 4, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) on the Parkway. American Idol star Jennifer Hudson and Grammy winner Meghan Trainor are headlining the concert, with Hudson performing with the Philly POPS. The annual show ends with a dazzling fireworks display over the Art Museum, with a live soundtrack played by the United States Army Field Band on the Art Museum steps. Pack a picnic and grab a spot along the Parkway to watch the free concert and show, or go to the website to download limited free tickets for the seated section in Eakins Oval.
A full list of festival events and other information can be found at WelcomeAmerica.com.