July 4, 2019
There’s no better place to celebrate our nation’s birth than on historic Duke of Gloucester Street. Enjoy a full day of patriotic festivities, including public readings of the Declaration of Independence, musical performances, hands-on activities for the kids, and a dazzling fireworks display to cap the evening.
PREMIUM FIREWORKS SEATING
Celebrate The Lights of Freedom, our breathtaking, heart pounding finale to Colonial Williamsburg’s Independence Day festivities from a VIP seat on Palace Green! Audience members will enjoy the evening’s pomp and ceremony, including Thomas Jefferson’s reading of the Declaration of Independence, a torch lit procession of the CW Fifes & Drums, patriotic sing-along and, of course, the thrilling fireworks display above the Governor’s Palace, from the best view in the historic area.LEARN MORE
- 9:30 a.m. Young Thomas Jefferson reads the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE at the Capitol
READING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Gather with the citizens of Williamsburg on July 25, 1776 to hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Only a few weeks ago, Virginia’s representatives adopted their own Declaration of Rights and a Constitution for the new state.LEARN MORE
- 10 a.m. A SALUTE TO THE STATES on Market Square
SALUTE TO THE STATES
Commemorate the anniversary of the birth of our nation with this special militia muster saluting the 13 original states. The Fifes and Drums play, flags of each state are displayed, and muskets and cannon celebrate the significance of this historic day. Come, cheer, and be part of this celebration.
- 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.
NOON READING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Residents of 18th-century Williamsburg read the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the Colonial Courthouse following the traditional firing of the Noon Gun accompanied by the Fife and Drum Corps. Listen as men and women from all walks of life share their personal perspectives on the meaning of this historic document.LEARN MORE
- 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)
The Declaration of Independence asserts that ‘all men are created equal’ and are endowed with certain unalienable rights – ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. When those words were written, over 52 percent of Williamsburg’s population was enslaved. Experience this museum theatre exploration of African American perspectives on the Declaration, the revolutions it inspired, and the ongoing struggle for equality and freedom in America.
- 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!
LIGHTS OF FREEDOM
Experience 18th-century fireworks set to colonial and patriotic Americana musical favorites. Each boom and burst of radiant colors is set to a patriotic musical score. Enjoy innovative effects from the first soaring volley of pyrotechnic salutes to the thrilling — and thunderous — grand finale.
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)
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)
SPECIAL DINING OPTIONS
- 7:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. HAVE BREAKFAST WITH THOMAS JEFFERSON at Shields Tavern, then join him as he heads over to the Capitol to read the Declaration of Independence. (Reservations are required and can be made by calling 1-844-811-8229.)
SHIELDS TAVERN BREAKFAST CELEBRATION WITH THOMAS JEFFERSON
- Thursday, July 4, 2019
- 7:45 am – 9:15 am
- VIEW MORE DATES
Open to the Public
Separate Ticket Required
On the morning of July 4th, prior to the reading of the Declaration of Independence, guests are invited to have a casual breakfast experience with Thomas Jefferson in the beautiful Shields Tavern. As guests arrive they will be greeted by our staff and escorted to their seats. During the breakfast, there will be a chance to mingle with Thomas Jefferson in a very casual relaxed setting. At 9 a.m. Mr. Jefferson will invite everyone to walk over to the Capitol and watch as he reads the Declaration of Independence. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 1-844-811-8229.
- 11 a.m. Grab a quick bite at the MCKENZIE SQUARE FOOD PAVILION.
- 4:00 p.m. Join Josiah Chowning for the CHOWNING’S JULY 4TH HOLIDAY PARTY in the tavern garden. Enjoy colonial-inspired favorites and specialty beer in addition to a special Independence Day offering. (Reservations can be made on line or by calling 1-844-811-8229.)
- 3:00 p.m. CELEBRATE THE FOURTH ON THE SOCIAL TERRACE for live bands and fireworks watching.
- 4:00 p.m. Enjoy an ALL AMERICAN JULY 4TH BUFFET at the Williamsburg Lodge.
- 4:00 p.m. Check out Sweet Tea and Barley’s special menu for JULY 4TH ON THE PATIO.
Other food options include:
- Snacks and $1 refills in our refillable mugs are available at stands throughout the Historic Area
- Dine at a HISTORIC TAVERN
- Grab and go at DUBOIS GROCER, MCKENZIE APOTHECARY, or RALEIGH TAVERN BAKERY
- Enjoy 21ST-CENTURY DINING at our fine restaurants, bars, or HUZZAH’S
- 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.
WHEN WILL THE FIREWORKS GO OFF?
On Thursday, July 4th, 2019, fireworks will be ignited at 9:20 p.m. from behind the Governor’s Palace. They will last about 20 minutes.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO SEE THE FIREWORKS?
The best location for viewing is on Palace Green. Guests may purchase Premium Fireworks Seating. The fireworks may also be seen from Market Square and the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO YOU CANCEL THE FIREWORK SHOW DUE TO WEATHER?
Colonial Williamsburg does not offer a rain date for the July 4th Fireworks. We do not have a set time in cancelling the program if the weather is a concern. Communication on the status of the fireworks will be posted through social media sites.
ARE THERE ADDITIONAL INDEPENDENCE DAY ACTIVITIES BESIDES THE FIREWORK SHOW IN THE HISTORIC AREA?
Yes. In addition to daily Historic Area programming, there will be a READING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE by young Thomas Jefferson at 9:30 a.m. from the Capitol building’s West Balcony and a noontime READING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE by members of the 18th century Williamsburg community on the steps and surrounding area of the Colonial Courthouse. Both events will feature a performance by Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums. At 10 a.m. on Market Square, A SALUTE TO THE STATES will feature a special muster in commemoration of the anniversary of the birth of our nation. Our signature Independence Day program, LIGHTS OF FREEDOM, is staged on Palace Green and begins at 9 p.m. This joyful celebration of pomp & ceremony includes a reading of the Declaration of Independence by young Thomas Jefferson from the Governor’s Palace balcony, a torch lit Patriotic Procession and Concert by the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums, and the premiere reading of Independence Day: An Invitation, a new work written by Henry Hart, Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia, culminating in the grand fireworks display.
WILL THERE BE ADDITIONAL ENTERTAINMENT WITHIN THE GROUNDS OF THE COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG FOUNDATION?
Yes. There will be an Americana-themed “Throwback” July 4th celebration on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg from Noon – 4 p.m.
IF I AM NOT ON PALACE GREEN, CAN I HEAR THE PATRIOTIC SOUNDTRACK THAT ACCOMPANIES THE FIREWORKS?
Yes. The fireworks music will be streamed and simulcast on radio station WMBG 97.7 FM.
WHAT IS THE BUS SCHEDULE?
REGULAR BUS SERVICE (Historic Bus Service – all stops) will be available every 30 minutes from 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. From 8:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., Limited Bus Service will be available between the Visitor Center and Governor’s Palace stop only. There will be no service between 8:45 p.m. and 11 p.m. Regular Bus Service will resume at 11:00 p.m.
HOW DO I GET TO THE VISITOR’S CENTER IF THE BUSES ARE NOT RUNNING?
There is an accessible walking path to the VISITORS CENTER from the Palace bus stop. This path will be closed between 8:30 and 11 p.m.
WHERE CAN I PURCHASE FOOD AND/OR BEVERAGES?
In addition to the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area taverns and refreshment stands, there will be food available for purchase in the orchard next to McKenzie Apothecary on the west side of Palace Green. There will not be any food trucks in the area. All restaurants in Merchants Square will also be open.
WHERE ARE THE RESTROOMS LOCATED?
Besides the regular restroom locations in the Historic Area, additional portable toilets are available within the vicinity of Palace Green. Please note that the restrooms within the Governor’s Palace Gardens and the structure at the corner of Scotland Street and Palace Green will not be available after 5 p.m. Public restrooms are also available in Merchants Square at the corner of Duke of Gloucester and N. Henry Streets, and in the Henry Street Shops.
ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS ON WHAT I CAN BRING TO THE FIREWORKS?
Yes. The following items will not be permitted on Palace Green, Art Museum Lawns, or any other Colonial Williamsburg owned properties:
- Pop-up tents
- Oversized umbrellas
WILL STORES IN THE HISTORIC AREA BE OPEN ON JULY 4?
Yes. The John Greenhow Store will be open 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., the Market House will be open 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., the William Pitt Store will be open 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., and Tarpley, Thompson & Company will be open 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
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