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UPDATE: Martina McBride Replaces Lionel Richie at Fourth of July Celebration at the Hatch Shell

All you need to know to plan your Independence Day festivities July 3 and 4.

Country music star Martina McBride will headline the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular during the city's 38th annual premier Independence Day celebration, replacing Lionel Richie who had to back out of the performance due to strained vocal cords.

The fun starts July 3 at 4 p.m., with a concert at 8:30 p.m., followed by more festivities on Monday, 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. Monday with entertainment throughout the day and into the evening. Performers include Michael Chiklis, Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops, and Norm Lewis, and 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 is back from Afghanistan and will shoot cannons to honor our nation's birthday. The United States Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus - a 65-member instrumental ensemble founded in 1946 - 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 U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard will participate during the "Star Spangled Banner."

See the full schedule here.

Getting There

Your best bet is to take the T and walk. On July 4th the MBTA will provide extra buses and train service, and public transportation will be free after 10:30 p.m.

The closest T stops are Charles MGH, Kendall, and Central Square on the Red Line, or Arlington Street on the Green Line. On July 4th the Esplanade is accessible from Beacon Street via Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, and Fairfield Streets and Massachusetts Avenue. On July 3rd 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 of 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 p.m. - 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-serve basis. Each person is allowed one guest, and the area will close at 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.
John Douglas July 01, 2011 at 05:50 PM
I love Martina McBride - she is a great choice since Lionel can't be there. Her song Independence Day is perfect for the 4th, and nobody does the anthem like Martina! She is a class act and I can't wait to hear her!
Brittany July 02, 2011 at 11:36 AM
I am so happy that Martina will be performing! I didn't know if last years performance of American Soldier by Toby Keith could be out done but Martina might give him a run for his money with Independence Day! Two of my all time favorite songs. Way to go go Boston!

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