What to know ahead of the Boston Pops' Fourth of July concert

Download Audio
Fireworks shoot from the Hatch Shell as confetti falls during the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Esplanade, Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in Boston. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Fireworks shoot from the Hatch Shell as confetti falls during the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Esplanade, Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in Boston. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

It’s the Charles River Esplanade’s time to shine. The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular celebrating the Fourth of July returns to the Hatch Memorial Shell and brings with it a lineup of performers — and fireworks — prepared to make the night sparkle.

Whether you’re headed to the show or taking it in from the couch, here’s what you need to know about the event:

Who will perform?

R&B and soul group En Vogue will join Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops to headline the Fireworks Spectacular.

"They really are kind of iconic in that '90s sort of way," Lockhart said. "And they've still got it. They still sound amazing."

Broadway performer Mandy Gonzalez and country duo LOCASH will also take the stage. Plus, there will be performances by Alton Fitzgerald White, Elizabeth Stanley and Andrea Jones-Sojola from the Pops’ recent “Ragtime: The Symphonic Concert” performances, and the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus.

"I'm very proud of the program we've put together this year," Lockhart said. "Every year, we try to balance the program for the incredibly diverse audience that watches along with this show and make sure that everybody thinks there's something we put in there just for them."

How do I get a seat?

The event is free and open to the public and seating is on a first-come basis. The Oval, the green space in front of the Hatch Shell, opens at 12 p.m. on July 4. Be warned: the event draws a big crowd so fills up quickly.

Rehearsal on July 3 is closed to the public.

Is there accessible seating?

Yes, there is accessible seating within the Oval on a first-come basis. Each person is allowed one guest to join them in accessible seating and the guest can bring a folding chair.

The accessible seating area will close at 6 p.m. or when it reaches capacity.

What can I bring?

Folding chairs, pop-up tents without sides, blankets and tarps less than 10 feet by 10 feet, and coolers without wheels are all allowed on the Oval. All personal items must be in clear bags, and purses or small clutches can be brought in following an inspection.

It’s important to know bicycles are prohibited from the Oval and Island/Lagoon areas on the day of the performance. Bikes can be brought to other places on the Esplanade, but can’t be left unattended.

Also prohibited from the event:

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

How do I get there?

Officials recommend taking public transit. If you choose to drive, keep in mind there will be road closures around the Esplanade and parking garages in the area will fill up quickly. There is no parking on the Esplanade.

The closest T stops to the Hatch Shell are Arlington on the Green Line and Charles/MGH on the Red Line. If you’re planning to watch from the Cambridge side of the river, Kendall and Central Square stations on the Red Line are the nearest.

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

Where can I park?

There is no official parking for the event and area parking spots will fill up quickly. With road closures, area parking garages are your best bet.

How can I watch from home?

Lockhart said that he recognizes many people think of Boston as the birthplace of our nation, whether they're here or not.

"For me, the concert means the chance to bring people together," Lockhart said. "Not just here — live and physically — but across the country and in a time when we seem to be so fractured."

If you’re not one to brave the crowds on the Fourth, you can watch the show on WHDH Channel 7 or stream it nationally on Bloomberg TV and radio beginning at 8 p.m.

Laney Ruckstuhl contributed to this report.

This article was originally published on June 27, 2023.

This segment aired on July 4, 2023.


Katie Cole Associate Producer, Digital
Katie Cole is an associate producer for digital.



More from WBUR

Listen Live