2024 Boston Harborfest Returns for its 42nd Edition runs July 1-4

Special to the Regional Review

The 2024 edition of Boston Harborfest – the country’s largest and Boston’s most expansive July Fourth celebration – runs July 1 through 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, Meet Boston and others listed here. A full press release is available here. 

Harborfest kicks off in Downtown Crossing July 1 with a noon opening ceremony featuring local and international public officials, hospitality leaders and military representatives; 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.”  

This year, Harborfest deepens its ties to Boston’s rich maritime history with a Navy Week collaboration including special events, demonstrations and performances. This year will mark the first Navy Week in Boston since 2012. 

Harborfest coverage highlights in Downtown Crossing:

Daily: Daily events July 1-4 comprise live entertainment from local performers and musicians from two stages in Downtown Crossing, as well as roaming musicians, historical re-enactors, and costumed characters. A beer garden pops up on the Summer Street Plaza (Summer St. @ Washington St.) from July 1-3, 12 noon to 5 pm, in partnership with Democracy Brewing and Distraction Brewing. 

July 1: 12 noon to 1 pm – Opening Ceremony. A ceremonial cake-cutting with public officials and other city leaders kicks off Boston Harborfest festivities. Roving re-enactors and staff from the USS Constitution engage with visitors, and the fife-and-drum group Liberty performs. Includes cutting and serving of the ceremonial cake. To honor Boston’s Navy Week, the Navy Band performs prior to the ceremony. FREE. (Summer Street Plaza) 

July 2: In addition to the evening’s Boston Harborfest Fireworks, viewable at Long Wharf at 9:15 pm, and the Pre-Fireworks Concert at Christopher Columbus Park at 6 pm, today’s Downtown Boston highlights include daylong free entertainment and:

2 to 4 pm – Chowderfest Chowder Tasting. Restaurants from around the Boston area offer up tasty samples of the celebrated New England summer staple for visitors to enjoy and pick their favorite. DJ Whysham spins tunes while visitors chow(der) down. FREE. (Washington Street at the Downtown Crossing Steps)

July 3: 2 to 3 pm – Macy’s All American Fashion Show. Macy’s Independence Day-themed fashion show highlights streetwear looks on citizen models from the neighborhood, including the best of new summer trends. FREE (Downtown Crossing Steps)

4 to 8 PM – Salute To Service Block Party. Boston Navy Week and Harborfest merge at this festive “shore leave” block party, taking over Summer Street with live musical entertainment, a DJ, and giveaways that honor sailors and the military community. FREE and open to 21+. (Summer Street Plaza)

July 4: City of Boston’s 248th Independence Day Celebration. 

9 AM – 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. FREE. Parade viewing all along the route.

10 AM – Parade continues to the Old State House where the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company continues its tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence from the State House balcony. FREE.

1:30 PM – “A Day of Unity: Reading Frederick Douglass.” A community-led reading of Frederick Douglass’s abolitionist speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Embracing stirring historical and joyful contemporary elements, the event includes live music, gospel vocalists, a local DJ, and African dance performances. Event concludes with an ice cream social. FREE (Steps at Downtown Crossing)

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