United States

A Capitol Fourth: If You Go

The nation’s birthday party begins at the U.S. Capitol at 8 p.m.

America will celebrate its birthday in style Tuesday with A Capitol Fourth, D.C.'s standout Independence Day party. The best seat in the house is on the West Lawn of the Capitol, where the Beach Boys will headline the festivities, followed by some pretty spectacular fireworks.

Here's everything you need to know if you go.

What's A Capitol Fourth?

A Capitol Fourth is the nation's birthday celebration, featuring a concert hosted by John Stamos, followed by a stunning fireworks show.

This year's concert features the Beach Boys, the Four Tops, Yolanda Adams and more. The main attraction begins near 9 p.m. with a stunning fireworks show. All of it is free and open to the public, with no tickets necessary. The concert will also be broadcast live on PBS.

When and Where Is It?

The official event is on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Gates open at 3 p.m., but the concert doesn't start until 8 p.m. Many people go early to stake out the best spots, bringing picnic blankets, snacks and plenty of cold water.

If you just want to scope out the fireworks, any spot around the National Mall should do fine.

Do I Need Tickets?

Nope. The show is free and open to the public, with no tickets required.

How Do I Get There?

Driving will be tough, and consider parking to be a near-impossible feat. In addition, multiple road closures will be in effect throughout the day. You're better off taking Metro, walking, riding a bike or taking a taxi or rideshare as close to the area as possible.

The nearest Metro stations are Capitol South, Federal Center SW, Judiciary Square, Smithsonian, National Archives and Union Station.

Trains will run until midnight on the Fourth of July to accommodate crowds headed home. Beware that the Smithsonian station will become "entry only" after 9 p.m. Off-peak fares will be in effect the entire day.

Considering renting a bike instead? Find Capital Bikeshare stations online here.

What Should I Bring?

Guests will be required to enter through a metal detector. Expect any of your bags to be searched.

You can bring food, but leave the wine at home: Alcohol is strictly prohibited.

Large coolers and bicycles won't be allowed on Metro.

You can bring a camera, but you won't be able to publish any of your photos or videos of the concert, per Capitol Fourth guidelines.

How's the Weather Looking?

It's going to be hot. Storm Team4's Sheena Parveen is predicting temperatures will hit 90 degrees, with a chance of isolated showers.

If it does start raining, call the National Symphony Orchestra's Summer Concert Hotline at 202-416-8114 after 2:30 p.m. to find out if the performances are still happening.

Remember to bring plenty of cold water and sunscreen along for the event, and be aware of the warning signs of heat-related illness.

Are There Other Places to Watch the Fireworks?

If fighting the crowds isn't your thing, check out our fireworks finder for spots outside the National Mall to watch the show. The Washington National Cathedral and Georgetown Waterfront Park provide excellent views without the hassle of a crowd.

 You can also opt out of the National Mall crowds entirely and head to a fireworks festival in Maryland or Virginia instead.

What if I or Someone in My Group Needs Special Accommodations?

A Capitol Fourth offers two designated viewing areas for those with disabilities; the viewing areas include monitors with closed captioning.

Once you arrive on the grounds of the Capitol, talk to a park ranger or an event staff member in a yellow shirt. They'll be able to direct you.

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