Things to Do

2014 Independence Day Events in Washington

Parades, concerts, and other patriotic fun.

Dancing With the Stars’ Tom Bergeron hosts this year’s Capitol Fourth concert on the west lawn of the Capitol Building. The lineup includes performances by Frankie Valli, Patti LaBelle, Jordin Sparks, and the Muppets, among others, as well as music from the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Williams, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, and the US Army Band. Gates open at 3 PM, and the show is, as always, followed by fireworks. 

Mount Vernon holds its own celebration at George Washington’s former home, featuring a reading of the Declaration of Independence, daytime fireworks over the Potomac, a performance by the National Concert Band of America, and more. 8 to 5. 

The annual National Independence Day Parade starts in downtown DC at 11:45 AM. Bring the whole family to see fife and drum corps performances, floats, giant balloons, and more. 

The Hamilton hosts a post-fireworks show with the 19th Street Band, who’ve opened for acts such as Toby Keith and Rascal Flatts. Doors open at 8:30 so you can grab a seat and a drink before the show. 

The first annual Freedom Fest “celebrates the unification of our local brewing community.” Head to Takoma Park for beer from 16 local breweries, plus barbecue and live music. Tickets are $35, all-inclusive; the event runs 11 to 7. 

DC’s City Tap House has organized a BeerBQ Brewery Battle, in which the restaurant’s team competes with representatives from 3 Stars Brewing and Evolution Craft Brewing to see who can create the best barbecue. For $10 you get barbecue and sides, and suds from the breweries will be available for $5 each. When you’ve had your fill, you can compete in the cornhole tournament for the chance to win a City Tap House gift certificate. 

Always wanted to see the “premier rock band of the Air Force”? You can on Friday at the Air and Space Museum, where Max Impact performs a free show of current and classic rock and country hits, plus patriotic songs. 11 to 2:30. 

The Popal Group—behind Malmaison, Napoleon Bistro, and Cafe Bonaparte—is throwing an all-day party on the Georgetown waterfront featuring food from all its restaurants and live music from Justin Trawick and the Common Good. After the fireworks, head back for tunes from a live deejay. 

The NoMa BID is also partying for the Fourth. Stop by the Loree Grand Field at Second and L streets, Northeast, for face-painting, moon bounces, live bluegrass music, and more. The first 200 people to arrive can snag free hot dogs, hamburgers, and watermelon from the neighborhood’s Harris Teeter. And of course, everyone can take advantage of the free wi-fi.

As usual, the National Archives holds a reading of Declaration of Independence, emceed by C-SPAN’s Steve Scully and with remarks by Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. There will also be performances by the Fife and Drum Corps and other family-friendly activities. Things get started at 10 AM. 

For a totally non-historical celebration, Rock & Roll Hotel is throwing a free dance party featuring deejays the Clown Prince, the Lothario, and Jackson Kathor. The party kicks off at 10 on the venue’s first floor. 

Tudor Place hosts an ice cream social from 1 to 3 PM, with tours of the mansion followed by some sweet treats. The event is free for military families. 

Check out the first annual Spike’d Independence Pool Party at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, hosted by Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn. Cool off in the water, dance to tunes from a deejay, and enjoy a Spike-created poolside snack. $18. 

For something a bit more low-key, several cities and neighborhoods are throwing their own parades. DC’s Palisades has a parade and picnic starting at 10 AM. Fairfax’s Independence Day parade runs 10 to noon in the downtown Fairfax historic district, followed by an evening display of fireworks at Fairfax High School. And various Arlington neighborhoods are holding their own parades; check the website for details.

Think Independence Day isn’t complete without sports? Watch the Nationals take on the Chicago Cubs at 11:05 as part of the team’s Patriotic Series; the stadium will hand out American flags, and there’s a special tribute to members of the military during the game. Or stop by National Harbor, which is screening the World Cup matches on a large projector—France vs. Germany at noon and Brazil vs. Colombia at 4. 

If you didn’t get your fill of fireworks on the Fourth, head to the Antietam National Battlefield on Saturday for a concert by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra at 7:30, followed by fireworks at 9:45.

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