Boston Fourth of July celebrations: What you need to know

The early risers snag prime Esplanade viewing spots for the Fourth

BOSTON — The Esplanade is ready and people have already packed the Hatch Shell in anticipation of the Fourth of July celebrations in Boston.

The annual concert and fireworks show by the Boston Pops brings thousands to the Hatch Shell every year. If you're planning on attending, here's what you need to know:

>> Where to watch fireworks around Massachusetts

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Where does the event take place? 

The event takes place along the Charles River, at the DCR Hatch Shell on the Esplanade between the Longfellow and Massachusetts Avenue Bridges, on both the Boston and Cambridge sides of the river.

What is the “Oval”? 

The Oval is the grass-filled area directly in front of the DCR Hatch Shell.

How do you access the secured areas? 

*SECURED AREAS There are two secured areas for this event: The Oval and the Island/Lagoon. Spectators entering these areas will be required to pass through one of the bag check/screening entrances and will receive a wristband specifically for that area, which must be worn at all times during the event to ensure access in and out of that secured area. When the secured areas are full on July 3rd and July 4th, NO additional wristbands will be distributed.

Because of crowds, be aware that Public Safety may close access to these secured areas as it gets closer to concert time.

The Oval and Island entrances to the Esplanade are best accessed from Storrow Drive at Berkeley, Clarendon and Dartmouth Streets.

The area behind the Hatch Shell is used for the production of the event and not open to the public. Community Boating is outside of the production area and always accessible to the public.

On July 3rd and 4th, Community Boating is closed for a fundraising event. Please visit for more information on their event on July 4th.

What is allowed and not allowed in the secured areas? 

To ensure the safety of all visitors to the Esplanade, rules will be strictly enforced on July 3rd and July 4th.

Can I buy a ticket to the event on the 3rd or the 4th? 

The event on the 3rd and the 4th is free and open to the public. Admittance to the event is on a first-come, first served basis.

Where are the restrooms? 

There are over 350 portable restrooms located in Boston and Cambridge. Accessible restrooms can be found at all restroom locations. There are restroom facilities located in the accessible area on both the Boston and Cambridge side.

Is there an Accessible Area? 

Yes. The accessible area is located within the Oval, to the right of the DCR Hatch Shell. People with disabilities are admitted into the designated area on a first-come, first served basis. Each person is allowed one guest and that guest is allowed to bring a folding chair. This area will close at 6:00 p.m. or when it has reached capacity, whichever comes first.

Are there concessions at the event? 

Yes, there will be a variety of food and merchandise options available for purchase. The food concessions are controlled by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. The merchandise concessions are controlled by Boston 4 Celebrations and all proceeds benefit the event. This year we will have merchandise available for purchase on the 3rd and the 4th.

What is located on the Cambridge side of the Charles River? 

The Cambridge side features sound towers, food concessions, restrooms and excellent views of the fireworks.

Public transportation? 

The MBTA will be operating on a weekend schedule. The bus will run on a Sunday schedule and after 2 p.m., the Subway will also run on a Sunday schedule. The Commuter Rail will operate on a Saturday schedule.

All fares will be waived after 9:30 p.m.

Where can I stay?  

There are a number of great hotels within walking distance to the Esplanade. You can visit the Greater Boston Convention and Visitor's Bureau at for more information.

What is the difference between the shows on the 3rd and the 4th? 

The July 3rd show features a full concert; however, it does not include the fireworks display.

What is happening on the Greenway? 

The Greenway Conservancy to offer a Live Screening of the Boston Pops Spectacular event on The Rose Kennedy Greenway! If you can’t make it to the Esplanade, head to Greenway at Atlantic Avenue and High Street where a massive HD screen will be streaming all the action and entertainment, complete with Bloomberg’s Janet Wu reporting live!

How long is the concert and fireworks? 

On July 3rd, the concert begins at 8:30 p.m. and ends at 10:00 p.m. On July 4th, the television broadcast begins at 8:00 p.m., the concert starts at 8:00 p.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m. with a fireworks display from 10:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (subject to change)

What is the music that will play with the Fireworks?

  • Flight To Neverland, BOSTON POPS ORCHESTRA
  • Let The River Run, CARLY SIMON
  • You Make My Dreams, HALL & OATS
  • This is My Country, BOSTON POPS ORCHESTRA
  • Think (Freedom), ARETHA FRANKLIN
  • Never Comin' Down, KEITH URBAN
  • What A Wonderful World, LOUIS ARMSTRONG
  • Doodletown Fifers, BOSTON POPS ORCHESTRA
  • Shining Star, EARTH, WIND & FIRE
  • A Better Rainbow, MELISSA MANCHESTER
  • Tchaikovsky Symphony #5 in E Minor, BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Additional resources:

City officials briefing on safety, transportation details for the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Esplanade:


Officials giving briefing on safety, transportation details for the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Esplanade

Posted by Boston 25 News on Tuesday, July 2, 2019