Wawa Welcome America, Philadelphia’s weeklong Fourth of July bash, is back for its 27th year and celebrating the nation’s birthday as only Philly knows how: art, history, and eight tons of hoagie.
In addition to headlining performances by pop and powerhouse vocalists Meghan Trainor and Jennifer Hudson on the Fourth of July, the six-day celebration will feature fireworks, concerts, films, and more than 50 free events across the city, Welcome America Inc. and Mayor Jim Kenney announced Thursday.
New additions to this year’s lineup include a clean-up in Hunting Park, a performance with the POPS Orchestra from the voice behind Disney princesses, and the unveiling of a mural celebrating the history of the Philadelphia Fire Department.
“It’s the best place to be in the world for the Fourth of July,” Wawa president and CEO Chris Gheysens said.
While the July Fourth concert featuring Trainor and Hudson will be the biggest musical event, Philadelphians can celebrate the sounds of freedom all week, with free performances from the U.S. Army Field Band, gospel singers, and a Hamilton-inspired “Hamiltunes” sing-along at the Kimmel Center.
And on Wednesday, July 3, Susan Egan — the voice of Beauty and the Beast’s Belle, Hercules’ Megara, and The Little Mermaid’s title role — will join the Philly Pops for a performance outside Independence Hall.
Of course, it’s not really an Independence Day celebration without seeing the rockets’ red glare, and there will be no shortage of fireworks displays.
The Army Band will kick things off Saturday, June 29, at Penn’s Landing, playing a patriotic concert before the fireworks display over the Delaware River.
Pyrotechnics will return to Penn’s Landing on Monday, July 1, after the Army Field Band plays its “Let Freedom Ring” set.
And if you still haven’t gotten your fill of fireworks, you can catch the main display on Thursday, July 4, over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Philadelphians can also catch free movies across the city, including a showing of Rocky on the iconic Art Museum steps, and Invincible at Franklin Field, where the 1976 Eagles tribute was filmed.
On Wednesday, July 3, the Philadelphia Film Center will show Once in a Hundred Years: The Life & Legacy of Marian Anderson, paying tribute to the South Philly singer whose 1939 performance at the Lincoln Memorial helped set the stage for the civil rights era.
Wawa Hoagie Day — a Fourth of July tradition more Philadelphia than independence itself — will return to Independence Mall on Tuesday, July 2, presenting an “eight-ton hoagie Salute to Our Troops” and free sandwiches for all.
And on June 29, Reading Terminal Market shoppers can take advantage of ice cream tastings, contests, and live demonstrations from Philly ice cream makers as part of the Philly Ice Cream Scoop.
What is a celebration of the land of the free without free stuff?
Throughout the week, Wawa Welcome America will feature 50 free events, including Philadelphia’s Historic District Block Party in Old City and a multitude of “Go 4th & Learn” educational productions for children.
Some Free Library branches will give away children’s books July 1. There will be a free fire-safety demonstration in conjunction with the mural unveiling at the fire station on Fourth and Arch Streets on July 3.
Free Museum Days also return this year, offering pay-what-you-wish admission to 22 Philly museums, a list that now includes the Museum of the American Revolution.
The July 4 Party on the Parkway will also feature five blocks of free entertainment and giveaways.