Family Vacations: Boston Harborfest

British Army Redcoats at Harborfest.
British Army Redcoats at Harborfest.

Independence Day in Boston is celebrated at a mammoth bash called Boston Harborfest, a six-day patriotic extravaganza that crescendos to a dynamic fireworks display on July 4. Harborfest has been a favorite of Bostonians and visitors for a quarter-century. Celebrants dress the Cradle of the American Revolution with bright trappings of pageantry as Boston revels in its colonial past.

There are more than 200 events at the waterfront and downtown areas, including walking tours, lectures, reenactments, and alfresco concerts, plus perennial favorites such as the Chowderfest, Children's Day, tours of the Boston Harbor Islands, and the arrival of the USS Constitution, also known as "Old Ironsides," complete with working cannons. About half the events are free.


At the Harborfest, make your way through crowds of loyalists, royals, and patriots to a favored spot such as the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge to hear the Boston Pops play the 1812 Overture (with traditional cannon fire and church bells). Then watch the fireworks blowout on the Esplanade, the long stretch of parkland along the Charles River.

Boston Harborfest Information

Address: City Hall Plaza

1 City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA

Telephone: 617/227-1528

Hours of Operation: Last week in June - July 4th

Admission: Cost varies

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Boston City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Boston.
  • Massachusetts State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Massachusetts, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.