Independence Day in DC: Your Guide to A Capitol Fourth

A Capitol Fourth, one of America's premiere birthday parties held on Congress' lawn, treats attendees to a free, live performances and a fireworks show in honor of Independence Day.

The celebration kicks off 8 p.m. on Wednesday, but crowds can begin filtering onto the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol at 3 p.m.

From navigating holiday Metro rush to dealing with the weather, here's everything to know about A Capitol Fourth.

Who's Performing?

John Stamos returns to host the 2018 celebration. The Beach Boys, Pentatonix, Andy Grammer, The Temptations and many more artists are set to perform. You can attend in-person or watch it on TV

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How Do I Get There?

Planners recommend taking the Metro due to traffic. The closest stations are Capitol South and Federal Center SW on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines and Union Station on the Red Line.

To avoid crowds, you may want to get off a stop early. Nearby stations include:

  • Red Line: Gallery Place, Judiciary Square, and Union Station are within a mile of the Capitol. Metro Center is about 1.5 miles away.
  • Orange, Blue and Silver lines: L'Enfant Plaza and Capitol South are less than a mile from the Capitol.
  • For Yellow and Green Lines: Archives, Gallery Place and L'Enfant Plaza stations are within a mile of the Capitol.

Arlington Cemetery and the National Mall side of the Smithsonian station are scheduled to be "entry only" after 9 p.m. to accommodate crowds heading home. The Independence Avenue entrance of the Smithsonian station will be available for both entry and exit throughout the day, Metro said.

How Long Will the Metro Be Open?

Metro is scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. with trains running every 12 minutes. Rush-hour level service begins around 6 p.m. Trains on the Yellow Line will operate only between Huntington and Mount Vernon Square beginning about 6 p.m. Riders wanting to travel north of Mount Vernon Square should use the Green Line instead.

Also, note that Metro is allowing passengers to carry and drink water on the system due to the excessive heat through the end of the day Wednesday.

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What About Security?

Those attending A Capitol Fourth will be screened by security before entering. This will include a search of all bags, coolers, backpacks and closed containers, U.S. Capitol Police say.

Police say the following items are prohibited:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Glass bottles
  • Animals (other than service animals)
  • Bicycles
  • Firearms and ammunition (either real or simulated)
  • Explosives of any kind (including fireworks)
  • Knives, blades or sharp objects (of any length)
  • Laser pointers, signs, posters
  • Mace, pepper spray, sticks, poles
  • Electric stun guns
  • Martial arts weapons or devices
  • Umbrellas larger 36" in diameter
  • Pocket or hand tools
  • Sealed packages, large boxes, duffel bags, suitcases
  • Drones, model rockets, remote or manually controlled model gliders, model airplanes or unmanned aircraft, model boats and/or cars, and other unmanned ground or aircraft systems

Please note that other items also may be prohibited at the discretion of security screeners, police say.

What's the Forecast?

The heat wave is continuing into the Fourth, with highs in the low 90s and a heat index around 100, Storm Team4's Sheena Parveen said. 

There is a chance for isolated showers in the afternoon, and some storms could lingering until 9 p.m. However, most of the area is expected to be dry. Pack some water bottles if you're planning to be outside. Check out Storm Team 4's forecasts for more information.

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How Can I Watch on TV?

A Capitol Fourth will be broadcast on PBS and a repeat of the show will be aired at 9:30 p.m. The show will be livestreamed on Facebook, Youtube, and the website.

Where Else Can I See Fireworks?

Check out our Fireworks Finder roundup of fireworks displays in Maryland, Virginia and D.C.

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