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Arts & Entertainment

Celebrating the Fourth

No car? No problem


Photo by Dick Taffe

Easily the biggest social and cultural event in the city each year, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular draws hundreds of thousands from all over the city and around the world. Now in its 38th year, the event is considered the nation’s premier Fourth of July celebration. Held at the DCR Hatch Memorial Shell along Storrow Drive, the Spectacular is just that—a world-class concert followed by breathtaking fireworks, some reaching 1,500 feet into the sky.

Prefer to avoid the jam-packed Esplanade? We’ve got several other festive alternatives. And remember, the T is free after 10:30 p.m. on Monday.

Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular
Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, Boston

The free concert begins at 8:30 p.m., but people begin staking out blanket space as early as 9 a.m., so you’ll want to get there early to secure a decent seat. Suggestions on where to sit and what to bring are here. This year’s concert will be hosted by Emmy-winning actor Michael Chiklis (CFA’85). Conductor Keith Lockhart will lead the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. Special guest performers include Broadway veteran Norm Lewis and country music star Martina McBride. The fireworks displaybegins immediately following the concert, at approximately 10:30 p.m.

If you want to avoid the crowds, consider heading over to Cambridge to catch the show. Speakers will be set up along Memorial Drive, between Mass Ave and the Harvard boathouse so that visitors can hear the concert.

To get to the Hatch Shell, take the MBTA Red Line train to the Charles/MGH stop, or take any Green Line trolley to the Arlington Street stop. To get to the Charles River, take the Red Line to either the  Kendall or Central Square stations.

Boston Harborfest

Every year, Boston hosts a six-day festival with more than 200 activities leading up to the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. Events include a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party ($42 for adults, $35 for children) and the annual USS Constitution Museum Turn Around Luncheon Cruise ($75 per person).

The Boston Tea Party reenactment invites visitors to relive the historic event. You can throw tea into the harbor, attend a town hall meeting, and sail around Boston Harbor aboard a Tall Ship, the 125-foot gaff-rigged Liberty Clipper.

During the USS Constitution luncheon cruise, attendees can watch from one of two vessels as Old Ironsides, the world’s oldest commissioned warship,  makes its yearly pilgrimage to Castle Island and fires off a 21-gun salute. You can either board the Majesty from Long Wharf or the Frederick L. Nolan, Jr., from the Charlestown Navy Yard. The cost includes lunch, narration by a historian from the USS Constitution Museum, and music by the Middlesex Fife and Drum Corps. The cruise runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

To get to the Chalestown Navy Yard, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to North Station. As you leave North Station, turn left and walk about two blocks to North Washington Street. Cross the street, turn left, and walk over the Charlestown Bridge. Go right at Chelsea Street and right at Joiner Street. into the Charlestown Navy Yard. To reach Long Wharf, take the Blue Line to the Aquarium stop.

One of Harborfest’s most popular Fourth of July attractions is the Liberty Fleet’s Tall Ship Fireworks Sail, a cruise and cookout. Though pricey ($125), the event offers one of the best places to see the Pops concert and view the fireworks display.

For the Tall Ship Fireworks Sail (which also hosts the Boston Tea Reenactment), take the Green Line to Government Center. Transfer to the the Blue Line outbound and get off at the Aquarium stop.

Top of the Hub
Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., Boston

If you’ve got really deep pockets and are 21 or older, you may want to splurge on this annual five-course dinner held 52 stories above the city in one of Boston’s most famous skyscrapers, the Prudential Center. The event, which kicks off with hors d’oeuvres at 7 p.m., offers partygoers a bird’s-eye view of the fireworks. Diners can listen to a live simulcast of the Pops concert during the meal.  A cash bar is available, and the dress code is business casual. Reservations are required.. For more information or to make reservations, call 617-536-1775.

To get to the Prudential Center, take the Green Line to the Copley Square stop and walk down St. James Street toward Dartmouth Street.

Albemarle Field
225 Nevada St., Newton, Mass.

Don’t have $200 to spend for a  Fourth of July dinner? Don’t worry. For a lot less, you can travel to Albemarle Field in Newton for an all-day celebration featuring amusement park rides, food, live music, and an open-air market. Admission to the field is free. Newton resident Tony Gentile, the self-proclaimed “master of fireworks,” will strut  his stuff with a display beginning at 9 p.m.

To get to Albemarle Field, take the 57 bus toward Watertown Yard and transfer to the 556 bus at Washington Street. Get off at Walnut Street. Albemarle Field is a five-minute walk from there.

Robbins Farm
1 Eastern Ave., Arlington, Mass.

Also known as Skyline Park, Robbins Farm offers a spectacular view of Boston. The park hosts a free day-long event each  Fourth of July,  featuring live music, refreshments, and a giant screen to watch a live broadcast of the Boston Pops concert. Bring a picnic blanket, sunscreen, and mosquito repellant.

To get to Robbins Farm, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Park Street and transfer to the Red Line outbound to Alewife station. Take the 62 bus from Alewife to Park Circle. Robbins Farm is a couple of blocks down Eastern Ave.

John Fichera can be reached at jifchera@bu.edu.

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