The Fourth of July is a big deal here in Philly, where our country was officially founded. And while there are a bevy of events planned for the national holiday, the big shebang will be happening on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and around Independence Mall with the annual Wawa Welcome America festival.
This year, it’s a week-long party with a ton of free events—including the July Fourth concert featuring headliner Pitbull—that will take place around the city to celebrate our nation’s independence.
Sticking around these parts for the big weekend? Or coming from out of town? Here’s what you need to know if you want to attend.
When and where is Wawa Welcome America?
The event kicked off on Thursday and runs through Wednesday, July 4. Most of the big events take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, but there are many others taking place throughout the city.
Independence Day Parade
July 4 at Independence Mall from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Wawa Welcome America July 4 Concert
July 4 on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
Wawa Welcome America July 4 Fireworks
July 4 on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway fro 9:30 to 10 p.m.
United States Army Band and Fireworks
June 30 on the Delaware River Waterfront from 8 to 10 p.m.
Which streets will be closed for Wawa Welcome America?
A bunch of roads will be closed all around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Independence Mall through Wednesday, July 4. The Office of Special Events (OSE) has only listed several closures on their website, however:
Friday, June 29
Chestnut Street, between 5th and 6th streets, will be closed from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Welcome America event.
Saturday, June 30
Filbert Street, from 11th to 12th, will be closed between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. for the Reading Terminal Market ice cream festival.
Tuesday, July 3
The Independence Mall will be turned into a Block Party from noon to 7 p.m. on July 3rd, with music, entertainment and food. OSE has not indicated any road closures on its website for the event, but it’s safe to say travel between 5th and 6th Streets will at least be difficult, if not entirely blocked off. The party will be followed by a concert from the Philly POPS Orchestra at the same place until 9 p.m.
Wednesday, July 4
The annual Independence Day Parade will run through Old City on the morning of July 4. It starts at 5th and Chestnut streets at 11 a.m., moves down to 9th and Chestnut, then up to 9th and Market, before traveling back and ending at Front and Market at 12:45 p.m.
Finally, the inner and outer drives of the parkway will be closed from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for the Party on the Parkway and the 4th of July concert and fireworks. Traffic to Logan Circle, the Oval, and the Parkway will all be shut down.
It’s important to note: These are only a sampling of the events, which most likely to affect travel in the city. For more events, head over to the Welcome America event schedule.
What about leaving Philly?
If you’re looking to get out of the city for the holiday, it’s a good idea to pack and go soon. Nearly 6 million people are expected to get on the PA Turnpike through next Sunday, according to a statement from PennDot. On Friday, the agency expects 750,000 motorists on the highway, with more over the week, with another high of around 700,000 motorists on July 5.
They urge people to stay off the road on Friday afternoons—which they say will be peak travel times—and to head out to their destination on July 1,2,4 and 8, which they expect will be less busy days.
How to get to Wawa Welcome America
If you’ve made it this far, the answer is pretty clear: You’re going to want to walk or take public transportation. SEPTA is running extra, late night Regional Rail service on July 4 for those looking to leave the Wawa Welcome America activities. You can find their Independence Day schedule here. Important note: All SEPTA trains and transit will be operating on a Sunday schedule the day of the holiday.
There’s also PHLASH, a local bus that only runs on weekends and roams around all of Center City’s main attractions. You can buy a ticket for just $2 or $5 a day and hop on and off as you wish.
Note: We will update this story as more news on road closures, events, and travel becomes available.