2013 Fourth of July Events in Washington

Where to celebrate America’s birthday, from a pool party at the Capitol Skyline to a historic ice cream social.

By: Kelsey Lindsey

Wednesday, July 3

Independence Day Ice Cream Social

This celebratory prologue on July 3 from 1 to 3 PM features a tour of Tudor Place’s historic mansion with a special focus on objects from George and Martha Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. An ice cream party in the garden follows, along with games and crafts for the little ones’ amusement. $10 for kids; $5 for adults. Reserve your spot online.


Thursday, July 4

Fourth of July at the National Archives

What’s more patriotic than a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence? Starting at 10 AM outside of the National Archives Building, performances by Continental Color Guard and the Fife and Drum Corps preface a special reenactment by actors playing Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Family activities and a meet-and-greet with revolutionary figures follow and last until 4. More info can be found online.

Independence Day Organ Recital

Located at the Washington National Cathedral, this annual Fourth of July event features local cathedral organists and the US Navy Sea Chanters—the official chorus of the United States Navy. Beginning at 11, the free program includes patriotic classics such as “Stars and Stripes Forever” as well as ragtime canons like Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer.” Visit the website for more information.

An American Celebration at Mount Vernon

Celebrate the Fourth at our first President’s estate with daytime fireworks, an inspection of the troops by George Washington, birthday cake, and a naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens. Festivities run from 9:30 to 3. Tickets, which can be ordered online, are $17 for adults, $8 for children 6 through 11, and free for children 5 and under.

Pool Party Spectacular Craptacular

Deejays Sinister Sound, Funny Moms, and Cale provide the grooves for Brightest Young Things’ fourth annual all-day pool party at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. Festivities (starting at 11 AM) include games, pie eating contests, and water balloon fights. Order your $15 advance ticket here.

Café du Parc Block Party

Take a break from the crowds at this block-party-style celebration hosted by Café du Parc at the Willard InterContinental Hotel. A live band plays from 4 to 8 PM, and special barbecue fare—including a $10 carry-out lunch—is sold alongside the eatery’s regular all-day dining menu. Visit the website for more info.

Red White and Boom

Views of the Mall’s fireworks and an open bar from 4:30 to 9:30 PM anchor this celebration at the Kastles Stadium at the Wharf. Live music from the Rude Nudies, DJ Mow, and others accompanies the party, which includes bocce and cornhole games for guests. Tickets are $65 in advance (order online) or $70 at the door.


Thursday, July 4, and Friday, July 5

Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue

Hill Country is holding not one but two days of patriotic celebrations on the west lawn of the National Building Museum. Starting at noon on July 4, acts including alternative-country artist Justin Jones and local Americana band South Rail play for free, continuing on July 5 until 5:30. Barbecue fare includes smoked hog and hot links, along with $1 Jell-o shots at Hill Country’s location at Seventh and D streets.


Friday, July 5

Golden Cinema Series: Yankee Doodle Dandy

The Golden Cinema Series screens the 1942 classic Yankee Doodle Dandy on July 5 in the garden of the Heurich House Museum. The movie follows the life of legendary playwright, actor, and composer George M. Cohan—hits of his include classics “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy”—and movie-goers are encouraged to pack a picnic and make a night of this free outdoor screening. Gates open at 8; more info can be found online.


All Weekend

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

This annual event held by the Smithsonian Institute on the Mall Wednesday through Sunday features three separate programs. The festival focuses on Hungarian heritage, global endangered languages (think Hawaiian and Tuvan), and the evolution of African-American style and diversity throughout the years. Look for traditional Hungarian cuisine and the opportunity to rock the runway at the daily open-mike-style fashion catwalk. Festival hours are 11 to 5:30, with special events taking place most evenings.