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An insider’s guide to Independence Day

Tips and tricks for celebrating on the Esplanade

Celebrating the Fourth of July on the Esplanade takes a little preparation. Here’s what you need to know:

Arrive early. The concert may start in the evening, but the Oval — the lawn that serves as the main seating area — opens at 9 a.m. and will reach capacity by late morning. All viewers will go through a security checkpoint and receive a wristband allowing them to go in and out throughout the day.

Be prepared. Early birds will get good spots (there are no seats), but they’ll also get a full 12 hours out in the weather. Each person in the Oval is allowed to bring a backpack and a cooler (prepare to have them inspected by security), a tarp or blanket that’s no larger than five feet by seven feet, a collapsible beach or lawn chair, and an umbrella. Bring water, snacks, and whatever else you need, whether it rains or shines.

But not over-prepared. The Esplanade is a crowded urban environment, so don’t tempt thieves. Leave as many valuables as you can at home, and keep your wallet and iPod on your person at all times. Also leave the pets at home; animals aren’t allowed, and most dogs hate fireworks. (There is an exception for service animals — see the guidelines for people with disabilities for more information.) For those who hesitate to lug a cooler through a crowd, there will be food vendors along the Esplanade.

Explore. Up to 12 hours on the Esplanade — with only the sausage vendors for food and the bathrooms beneath the Hatch Shell for relief — can try anyone’s patience. Luckily, Beacon Hill, Copley Place, and Newbury Street are all within walking distance for shopping, snacking, and indoor restrooms.

Think teamwork. Even the earliest arrival can lose a prime spot by leaving it unattended — blanket space is at a premium on the Fourth. Go with a group if possible so you can take turns guarding the spot during food and bathroom breaks. (Plus, it’s more fun.)

Take the T. Parking is limited and often expensive. Both the Arlington station on the Green Line and the Charles/MGH stop on the Red Line are within walking distance; visit the MBTA Web site for more information.

Know your options. The Esplanade provides the official experience, but there are plenty of other ways to see the fireworks: the docks at Community Boating are open for a small fee, and the Cambridge side of the river — accessible just by walking across the BU Bridge (or any of the others in the area) — offers a great view for free.

For more information about the Fourth of July in Boston, click here.