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What to know about this year's Boston Pops' Fourth of July concert

The Boston Pops perform at the Hatch Memorial Shell during a previous July 4 performance. (Courtesy of Michael Blanchard/BSO)
The Boston Pops perform at the Hatch Memorial Shell during a previous July 4 performance. (Courtesy of Michael Blanchard/BSO)

The music provided by the Boston Pops, bouncing out of the Hatch Memorial Shell stage and across the Charles River, feels like a must-have ingredient when enjoying Boston's beloved Fourth of July fireworks.

And this year, the music is back.

Conductor Keith Lockhart and the Pops will perform in Boston on Independence Day for the first time in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you're looking to attend the 2022 Fireworks Spectacular event on the Esplanade — or you just want to know more about what's happening — we've got you covered.

Who is performing and when?

There's more to the Fourth of July show than just Conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops — a packed lineup of guest artists will perform, too.

The list includes music icon Chaka Khan, Grammy- and Tony Award-winner Heather Headley and singer-songwriter Javier Colon. The Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus are also expected to perform. (You can see the full slate for the spectacular on the Boston Symphony Orchestra event page.)

The show gets underway at 8 p.m.

How much does it cost to attend?

Come one, come all. There is no cost — the event is free to anyone who wants to attend.

How should I travel to the Esplanade?

By car, by public transit or by foot — all these options are viable, although officials recommend public transit. If you choose to drive, keep in mind there will be road closures around the Esplanade area (more on that below) and parking in the vicinity will fill up quickly. You can't drive onto the Esplanade, so you'll need to park nearby or take the train to a nearby MBTA stop, then cross one of the footbridges.

You can access the Esplanade from Beacon Street via Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth and Fairfield Streets, as well as Massachusetts Avenue.

MBTA stops reasonably close to the Esplanade are:

  • Arlington, Copley and Hynes Convention Center, on the Green Line.
  • Charles/MGH, on the Red Line.
  • Back Bay, if you're coming via the Orange Line (although this is a much farther trek than the two options above).

If you need a quick refresher on MBTA stops, check out this subway map.

If you're coming into Boston via commuter rail, be sure to keep in mind that all trains will operate on a weekend schedule. Some lines will be held for 30 minutes after the firework show is over. (For more specifics, check out the MBTA's holiday service alerts.)

What kind of road closures and restrictions should I expect?

When it comes to Fourth of July and the concert at the Hatch Shell, road closures and parking bans start days before the actual event.

Parking bans in the area take effect Friday, July 1. Beginning at 7 a.m., parking is prohibited on Mugar Way from Arlington Street to Charles Street until 6 a.m. on July 5. Any vehicles remaining will be towed away.

Beginning Saturday evening, the right-hand travel lane on Storrow Drive westbound will be closed.

Starting on Sunday, parts of the Esplanade will be closed to pedestrians and cyclists. Sunday is rehearsal day for performers, and this year the public won't be able to watch.

Road closures and parking bans will build up as the day progresses on July 4. In the morning, you'll notice parking bans on Memorial Drive and exit closures on Storrow Drive. More and more of the area will be locked down and restricted as day turns into night. If you are driving in or aren't planning on attending the concert but need to drive through the area, we suggest you read the full breakdown of the expected road closures and restrictions compiled by the BSO.

Can I ride my bike to the event?

Bikes won't be allowed through checkpoints into the Oval or Island/Lagoon areas of the Esplanade, according to the Boston Symphony Orchestra website.

You can bring your bike near the venue, but it can't be left unattended — even if you're locking it up somewhere. If you do lock up your bike in the area, you run the risk of it being removed. The BSO said the measure is "being enacted for public safety and crowd management in the event a speedy evacuation becomes necessary at the Esplanade."

Where can I park?

Parking will be snapped up early and fast. With all the road closures and parking restrictions, parking garages in the area will be your best bet.

Again, public transit is the ideal way to get to the event — even if that means parking in a different neighborhood and taking the subway.

What about accessible parking?

There is parking for attendees with disabilities available at the Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary on July 4. You can access this lot by entering Storrow Drive outbound from Leverett Circle and exiting at the Charles Circle off ramp. The parking entrance is at the far left of the beginning of the ramp.

You must have a disability plate or placard to enter the lot. A shuttle service will run from 3 p.m. through 6 p.m., or until the area is full. Once the event is over, shuttles will bring all attendees who parked in the lot back to their vehicles.

What can I bring?

If you're planning on getting a good spot near the Hatch Shell, you'll have to be aware of what you're bringing with you. Many people like to get to the Esplanade early in the day to secure a prime piece of concert-viewing real estate. But with performances not starting until 8 p.m., be sure to bring some comfort items, like blankets, beach chairs or even a pop-up tent.

Here's what the BSO says is allowed near the venue:

Allowed items

  • Pop-up tents/canopies with no sides — no bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet.
  • Blankets or tarps no bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet.
  • Folding/beach chairs only.
  • Coolers, which must be carried in by shoulder strap or single handle (no wheeled coolers).
  • All personal items must be carried in clear bags only.
  • After inspection, small clutch bags/purses may be taken into the venue with the clear bag.

There are some items, however, that you can't bring with you. Here's the BSO list:

Prohibited items

  • No coolers on wheels.
  • No backpacks.
  • No firearms, weapons, sharp objects, or fireworks.
  • No glass containers.
  • No cans.
  • No pre-mixed beverages.
  • All liquids must be carried in sealed clear plastic containers, and can't exceed 2 liters.
  • No grilling, propane tanks or open flames.
  • No alcoholic beverages.

Where can I watch the broadcast?

Even if you can't make it to the Esplanade in person, you can still catch the performance and firework show via broadcast.

The show will be carried on Bloomberg Television and simulcast on Channel 7.

Related:

Derek J. Anderson Twitter Digital Producer
Derek J. Anderson is a digital producer for WBUR.

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