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Jennifer Hudson Headlines Fourth of July Celebration at the Hatch Shell

From Boston Pops-backed fireworks to porta-potties, here's all you need to know to plan your Independence Day festivities July 3 and 4.

Programs

Jennifer Hudson will headline the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular during the city's 39th annual premier Independence Day celebration.

The fun starts Tues, July 3 at 6 p.m., with a concert at 8:30 p.m., followed by more festivities on Wed, July 4 as thousands of people from across the country will flock to the Hatch Shell on the for live music, food, and of course, fireworks.

The Oval (the area in front of the Hatch Shell) opens at 9 a.m. Wednesday with entertainment throughout the day and into the evening. Other performers include Michael Chiklis, Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops, and performances from the Broadway hit MAMMA MIA! as the city goes all out with cannons, military plane flyovers, performances by the National Honor Guard and more.

Gearing up for the fireworks display at 10:30 p.m., the 101st Field Artillery Regiment will shoot cannons to honor our nation's birthday. The Navy Band Sea Chanters—the United States Navy’s official chorus— will also perform.

Jets overhead will feature the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard—one of the oldest flying units in the state.

And a joint forces honor guard, which includes members from the United States Navy USS Constitution, the United States Coast Guard and the United States Marines who will all be participating in the “Star Spangled Banner.” In addition, some of the honor guard members will be wearing period uniforms to mark the War of 1812 Bicentennial.

See the full schedule here.

Getting There

Your best bet is to take the T and walk. With Boston's Tall Ships Festival the weekend before, the MBTA will provide extra buses and train service Fri June 29-Sun, July 1; and Wed, July 4. Public transportation on the Fourth will be free after 10:30 p.m. And don't forget about the that go into effect on July 1.

The closest T stops are Charles MGH, Kendall, and Central Square on the Red Line, or Arlington Street on the Green Line. On July 4 the Esplanade is accessible from Beacon Street via Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, and Fairfield Streets and Massachusetts Avenue. On July 3 you will need to use one of the footbridges to cross Storrow Drive.

If you have to drive, suggested parking is at the 100 Clarendon Street garage, which is within walking distance to the Esplanade.

Watch From Home

Can't make it this year? Tune in nationally on the CBS Television Network to view the event during a live one-hour primetime special. Locally, you can watch the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on WBZ-TV Channel 4 from 8-11 p.m.

Good to Know

  • Get there early. You have to go through a screening/bag check, and you'll get a wristband which gives you access in and out of the area until 6 p.m. After that, "you may not be able to be readmitted even with a wristband due to crowds and public safety concerns." Also, they'll stop issuing wristbands when the Oval is completely filled, usually around 7:30 p.m. on July 3, and 2 p.m. on July 4.  
  • Bring cash to buy food from plenty of concession stands, and goodies like t-shirts and hats. All proceeds benefit the event.
  • Don't bring your grill, and keep alcohol, glass containers and sharp objects (knitting needles, metal tent spikes, can openers, metal utensils) at home. You can bring  foldable and beach style chairs, and tarps and blankets must be 8' x 10' or smaller.
  • Use the porta-potties. There will be over 350 portable restrooms located in Boston and Cambridge. Handicap accessible restrooms can be found at all restroom locations.
  • Handicapped area is to the right of the Hatch Shell. People with disabilities will be admitted into the designated area on a first-come, first-served basis. Each person is allowed one guest, and the area will close 6 p.m. or when it has reached capacity, whichever comes first. On the Cambridge side, there is a reserved handicapped area along a section of the Cambridge Parkway on July 4.

Schedule

Tuesday, July 3rd Concert

6:00PM  Oval opens 8:20PM Concert begins 9:30PM "1812 Overture" is played 10:00PM Concert ends

NO FIREWORKS DISPLAY ON JULY 3RD

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Wednesday, July 4th Concert and Fireworks

9:00AM Oval opens 12:00PM Recorded music begins in Boston 6:00PM Recorded music begins in Cambridge 7:00PM WBZ News Radio 1030 simulcast begins 8:00PM Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular broadcast begins on WBZ-TV Boston 8:20PM Boston Pops concert begins with the National Anthem and flyover 9:30PM "1812 Overture" is played live on Esplanade 10:00PM CBS Network national broadcast begins 10:35PM Fireworks begin 11:00PM Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular ends
Angela Wang July 04, 2012 at 04:36 PM
THIRD flyover Back Bay just now!
Angela Wang July 04, 2012 at 04:54 PM
... and quite a few after. Just realized I have Navy Week to thank!

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