The 42nd edition of Boston Harborfest, the country’s largest, and Boston’s most expansive, Fourth of July celebration, runs June 30 through July 4 with events stretching from Downtown Crossing to the North End and from the Boston Common to Boston Harbor. The Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (Downtown Boston BID) is a co-sponsor of Harborfest, with the City of Boston, MeetBoston, and others.
Harborfest kicks off in Downtown Crossing June 30. Local and international leaders will be on hand; Downtown Boston BID President Michael J. Nichols hosts. “The rich history and culture of Boston comes alive for Harborfest,” Nichols says. “Downtown is the perfect backdrop for recalling the American Revolution, honoring our country’s move to freedom, and celebrating the dynamic city and country that has emerged ever since. Residents and 4th of July visitors will love the events, the music, the art and the people-watching here and on the waterfront during Harborfest week.”
Harborfest coverage highlights in Downtown Crossing:
DAILY: Daily events June 30 through July 3 include live performances from local performers and musicians across genres will entertain visitors from stages in Downtown Crossing, kid-friendly puppet shows from Through Me To You Puppetry, roaming musicians, historical re-enactors, and costumed characters.
JUNE 30: 12 noon to 1 p.m. – Harborfest Opening Ceremony. A ceremonial cake-cutting with public officials and hospitality leaders kicks off Boston Harborfest 2023. Roving re-enactors and staff from the USS Constitution engage with visitors, while the Massachusetts 215th Army Band begins an afternoon of performances. Includes cutting and serving of the ceremonial cake, “living historians,” and more. FREE. (The Steps at Downtown Crossing).
11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Downtown Boston Arts Market. A vibrant market in the heart of downtown highlights a wide selection of goods from local artisans. Shoppers will find handmade items from around Massachusetts – everything from jewelry and clothing to textiles, beauty and personal care items, and more. (Summer Street Plaza).
JULY 1: In addition to this evening’s Boston Harborfest Fireworks viewable at Long Wharf at 9:15 p.m. and the Pre-Fireworks Concert at Christopher Columbus Park at 6 p.m., Downtown Boston highlights include:
1 to 4 p.m. – Middlesex County Volunteers Fife and Drums. Historic ensemble performs throughout the neighborhood, bringing authentic folk music and iconic patriotic hymns from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Performance locations include Summer Street Plaza, Old State House, Old City Hall, and Old South Meeting House. FREE.
2 to 3 p.m. – Macy’s Fashion Show. A festive Macy’s Independence Day-themed fashion show highlights the latest streetwear looks on citizen models from the neighborhood, including the best of new summer trends. FREE (Steps at Downtown Crossing).
JULY 2: 12 Noon to 3 p.m. – Patriotic Poochapalooza. Costumed four-legged patriots face a guest panel awarding prizes for Best in Show, Best Team, Most Creative and Most Patriotic. A doggie marketplace pop-up includes treats for pets. FREE. (Steps at Downtown Crossing).
JULY 3: In addition to the Christopher Columbus Park Harborfest Concert from 1-5 p.m, and liver performances in Downtown Crossing from 12-7 pm., today’s Downtown Boston highlights include:
2 to 4 p.m. – Chowderfest Chowder Tasting. A selection of restaurants from around the Boston area offer up tasty samples of the celebrated New England summer staple for visitors to enjoy. FREE. (Steps at Downtown Crossing).
JULY 4: 9 a.m. – City of Boston’s 247th Independence Day Celebration. A short parade steps off from City Hall Plaza and passes the Granary Burial Ground, where wreaths will be laid on the graves of patriots. Parade continues to the Old State House where the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company will continue its tradition of reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony. FREE. Parade viewing available along the route.
10 a.m. – The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company reads the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House.
1:30 p.m. – A Day of Unity: Reading Fredrick Douglass. This event centers on a community-led reading of Frederick Douglass’ abolitionist speech “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Embracing both stirring historical and joyful contemporary elements, the “A Day of Unity” includes live music from Darlene Wynn, Tempo International Rhythm & Steel, African Drum Circle, and DJ Joe Johnson. Uprising Dance Theatre performs. Event concludes with an ice cream social. FREE (Steps at Downtown Crossing).