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Celebrating July 4 at Colonial Williamsburg

An insider’s guide to planning your day

The countdown is on! We’re less than a month away from Independence Day and we hope you’re making plans to celebrate with us. We’ve got festivities throughout the day leading up to a spectacular fireworks display. Here’s your practical guide for navigating the day.

HIGHLIGHTS OF INDEPENDENCE DAY

 
  • 9:30 a.m. Young Thomas Jefferson reads the Declaration of Independence at the Capitol
  • 10 a.m. A Salute to the States on Market Square
  • 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. See the theatrical antics of the Chowning family as they perform “Washington’s Birthnight,” a 20-minute retelling of an actual event that happened here in Williamsburg in 1779. (Free with admission ticket)
  • 12 p.m. Join us for the Noon Reading of the Declaration at the Courthouse, which includes men and women from all walks of life sharing their personal perspectives on the meaning of this historic document.
  • 12:30 p.m. Bid on select items from CW stores as well as one of a kind items at the Independence Day Auction on Market Square.
  • 2 p.m. Check out a conversation with Revolutionary in Residence and Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose. (Purchase a separate ticket)
  • 3:30 p.m. Join us for a museum theatre experience that explores African American perspectives on the Declaration of Independence and its words asserting that “all men are created equal,” when over 52 percent of Williamsburg population was enslaved. Check out “Created Equal.” (Free with admission ticket)
  • 4:30 p.m. Lift your voice at “Over there! A WWI Music Hall Sing-Along” with war-time tunes like Over There, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, The Rose of No-Man’s Land, and many more. (Free with admission or museum admission)
  • 9:00 p.m. Be prepared to be dazzled on the Palace Green. Our legendary fireworks are accompanied by a patriotic musical score and all the pageantry fit for the title, “The Lights of Freedom.” Consider booking premium fireworks seating for the best seats!

FUN FOR KIDS

The slate of fun for younger folks includes (but is not limited to!)…

  • 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Join Patriots at Play behind the Randolph House. (Free with admission ticket)
  • 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Stomp some clay in the Brickyard, learn how weavers make cloth on a loom, and discover other 18th-century historic trades. Check your Map & Program Guide for the full list of open shops and their hours. (Free with admission ticket)
  • 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, and 1:30 Dig! with a real archaeologist. Ticketed guests may sign up for any of the sessions at the Colonial Street entrance each day at 9 a.m.
  • 9:30 and 10:45 a.m. Learn the secrets hidden in the Robert Carter House from architectural historians in Building Detectives (Free with admission ticket, but separate reservation required)
  • 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Take a Children’s Tour of the Palace to discover what life was like for Virginia’s last royal governor’s family. (Free with admission ticket, but separate reservation required)
  • 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Visit a Nation Builder at the Charlton Stage (Free with admission ticket)
  • 11:55 a.m. Catch the Firing of the Noon Gun.
  • 2:30 p.m. We want you! Make your own patriotic pinwheel at the Bassett Hall Cottage. (Purchase a separate ticket)
  • 2:30 p.m. Would-be soldiers ages 9 to 80 can find out what it’s like to be an 18th-century soldier during the American Revolution in Shoulder Your Firelocks. (Free with admission ticket)

ENGAGING EXPERIENCES

Additional activities for more mature groups (recommended for ages 12 and up) include…

  • 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 pm. Fire a reproduction 18th-century flintlock musket. (Available in intervals throughout the day; purchase a separate ticket ahead of time)
  • 9:30 a.m. Meet one of our garden volunteers and learn all about 18th-century gardening techniques. (Free with admission ticket)
  • 10:00 a.m. – 3:20 p.m. Learn the history of ax throwing during the Revolutionary War, then take a swing for it yourself. (Available in half-hour intervals throughout the day; purchase a separate ticket ahead of time)
  • 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Stop in and meet the Famous Barber of York.
  • 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. Discover the whimsical and fascinating paintings, sculpture, and textiles from Mrs. Rockefeller’s collection in this Introduction to Folk Art. (Free with admission or museum admission)
  • 12:00 and 12:50 p.m. Become part of the moments leading up to the 5th Virginia Convention in 1776 in Resolved, a playful and thought-provoking museum theatre experience. (Free with admission; limited capacity)

INSIDER TIPS

  • Bring blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the fireworks. If you bring a cooler, please avoid bringing glass or other breakables.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Dress the part with this year’s Fourth of July shirt.
  • Pack water bottles and plenty of sunscreen. There’s a pretty good chance it will be hot out there. If you have one of our refillable mugs—from this or any year–you can get soda refills for $1. No charge for water, but it may not be available at all the stands.
  • Take lots of pictures! Tag your photos with #wherehistorynevergetsold and @colonialwmsburg on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Be nice to your neighbors in the crowd. It’s going to get crowded and dark out there, so be courteous about sharing the space— and maybe bring a flashlight, too. If rain is in the forecast, don’t forget to bring an umbrella (or two).
  • Need a little Colonial Williamsburg 101? Check out our Tips for Time Travel video
  • This Fourth of July is a Thursday, so it’s a great year to make a long weekend out of the holiday and catch more of what Colonial Williamsburg has to offer. In fact, one of most common pieces of feedback we get is “I wish I had planned more days to visit.” Stay with us and save on your admission tickets. Take advantage of our Colonial Williamsburg package.

PARKING & GETTING AROUND

The Prince George Street parking garage is your best bet if you want to park near Merchants Square on the west side of town, but may fill up early. Most street and lot parking is for only one or two hours.

The low-stress option is to park at the Visitor Center and walk or take the shuttle — free with your admission ticket — to the Historic Area. The shuttle runs in frequent intervals from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Then, from 8:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., the buses will stop at the the Visitor Center and Palace only. Beginning at 8:45, during the firework set up, show and clearing, there will be no shuttle service. Typically, regular bus service begins again around 11 p.m.

REFRESHMENTS AND DINING

Other food options include:

SEE YOU THERE!

We can't wait to celebrate the birth of the nation with you and your family. Be sure to get your admission tickets and start at the Visitor's Center to get the most out of your visit!