With the Fourth of July coming up fast, here's what you can expect if you’re heading to downtown Washington, D.C., for the fireworks, concerts or parade.
This will be the first traditional Independence Day celebration in D.C. since 2019, with lots of big events in recent years either being canceled or virtual due to COVID-19. While officials don’t like to estimate crowds, they are expecting lots of people on the National Mall this Monday.
"Somewhere between dozen and a million," Mike Litterst of the National Park Service quipped. "We plan for crowds in the hundreds of thousands."
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There will be plenty of reasons to head downtown Monday: The Washington Nationals will host the Miami Marlins at Nats Park in the morning. Then come three big events that have been missing since COVID-19 began: The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is back, as is the parade down Constitution Avenue, and the National Symphony Orchestra will be back on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. It all leads up to D.C.'s jaw-dropping fireworks display.
If you’re planning on going to the National Mall, expect road closures, parking restrictions and security screenings.
"There will be security checkpoints to pass through to get on parts of the Mall," said Sgt. Thomas Twiname of the U.S. Park Police. "Weapons of any kind to include knives; drones are prohibited; structures will be prohibited, and barbecue grills." Bags will be checked.
For notifications, you can text "july4dc" to 888777.
As for the rest of the District, you can expect to see more police and parking enforcement in neighborhoods that have high numbers of nightlife venues.
Schedule of Fourth of July Events Around the National Mall:
Here's what time the big events are happening Monday:
- National Mall access opens: 11 a.m.
- Smithsonian Folklife Festival: : 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
- National Independence Day Parade (Constitution Avenue NW from 7th Street to 17th Street NW): 11:45 a.m. - 2 p.m.
- A Capitol Fourth concert: 8 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
- Fireworks: 9:09 p.m. - 9:27 p.m.
Public Access Points to the National Mall on July Fourth:
Public entry points for the National Mall be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on July Fourth. You'll find them at:
- The west side of the Arlington Memorial Bridge
- Constitution Avenue NW between 23rd Street NW and Henry Bacon Drive NW
- Maine Avenue SW and Raoul Wallenberg Place SW (15th Street SW)
- East Basin Drive SW at Inlet Bridge SW
What Items Are Prohibited on the National Mall on July Fourth?
Visitors will be screened at all access points on the Fourth of July. All coolers, backpacks, packages, and persons will be subject to inspection, the National Park Service said.
Prohibited items include:
- Grills, alcohol, glass containers, personal fireworks
- Personal tents that block other visitors’ views or tents that require stakes
- It is strongly recommend that pets be left at home
- Firearms, ammunition, bladed/edged/sharp tools or implements
- Coolers/thermal containers larger than 36 quarts (23"x15"x15")
- Club-like items or striking devices, including selfie sticks and golf umbrellas (small folding umbrellas are permitted)
- Laser pointers
- Unmanned aerial systems (drones)
What to Know About Washington, DC's Metro on the Fourth of July:
While officials want you to use public transportation to get downtown. Metro is warning people to expect long lines and up to 60-minute wait times for trains.
Still, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser wants people to leave their cars at home.
"I know for a fact that Metro is still your best option, given that there are going to be a lot of street closures. And if you try to park, you will probably be walking long distances," Bowser said Thursday.
Metro is encouraging the following:
- Try to avoid transferring lines
- Delay your return trip until after the fireworks, if possible — consider visiting restaurants or other attractions downtown or at the Wharf to allow crowding to subside
- Consider using a station other than Smithsonian, which typically has the most crowding. (Note: The National Mall side of the Smithsonian station will become entry-only after 9 p.m. to accommodate crowds). Other options include:
- Foggy Bottom (may become entry-only after the fireworks)
- Metro Center
- Federal Triangle
- Gallery Place
- Judiciary Square
- Union Station
- L'Enfant Plaza
- Capitol South
- Federal Center SW
- Arlington Cemetery (open until 11 p.m.)
Be aware that, due to expected crowding, bikes and large coolers are not permitted on Metro after 2 p.m. on the Fourth of July.
Metrorail will open at 7 a.m. and close at midnight on the Fourth of July. However, last train times will vary by station. Go to wmata.com/stations for specific times. The Arlington National Cemetery station's closing time will be extended one hour, to 11 p.m.
How Often Will Metro Trains Run on the Fourth of July?
Red Line trains will run every 12 minutes, with extra trains providing service every six minutes between Grosvenor and Silver Spring.
Blue, Orange and Silver line trains will run every 20 minutes, with service about every seven minutes at downtown stations served by multiple lines.
Green and Yellow line trains will run every 15 minutes, with service every 7-8 minutes at stations served by both lines.
Are Any Metro Stations Closed?
Yes, due to Metro's Platform Improvement Project, five stations are closed for the summer: New Carrollton, Landover, Cheverly, Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood. Orange Line trains are running between Vienna and Stadium-Armory only. Free express and local shuttle buses are available.
Fourth of July Road Closures:
Earlier this week, the National Park Service announced the following Fourth of July road closures:
Closed July Fourth from 6 a.m. until about 10 p.m.:
- Arlington Memorial Bridge and Arlington Memorial Circle on the Virginia end, to and including Lincoln Memorial Circle in the District
- Rock Creek Parkway south of Virginia Avenue NW to Lincoln Memorial Circle, including all approaches and ramps
- Parkway Drive from Rock Creek Parkway to Lincoln Memorial Circle
- Henry Bacon Drive NW
- Daniel Chester French Drive SW
- Lincoln Memorial Circle and all approaches and ramps into and out of Lincoln Memorial Circle, including Henry Bacon Drive N, Daniel Chester French Drive SW, 23rd Street NW and 23rd Street SW
- Ramp from Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW and Ohio Drive SW; all inbound traffic from the bridge will be directed to the E Street Expressway
- Constitution Avenue NW from 23rd Street NW to 14th Street NW
- 7th Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
- 4th Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
- 15th Street NW from E Street NW south to Raoul Wallenberg Place SW
- 17th Street NW from E Street NW south to Independence Avenue SW
- 18th Street NW between Constitution Avenue NW and Virginia Avenue NW
- 19th Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
- 20th Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
- 21st Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
- 22nd Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
- Virginia Avenue NW from Constitution Avenue NW to 18th Street NW
- C Street NW from 17th Street NW to 18th Streets NW
- D Street NW from 17th Street NW to 18th Street NW
- Raoul Wallenberg Place SW to Maine Avenue SW
- Independence Avenue SW from 14th Street SW to 23rd Street SW, including merge with Rock Creek Parkway
- Madison Drive NW from 15th Street NW to 3rd Street NW
- Jefferson Drive SW from 15th Street SW to 3rd Street SW
- Ohio Drive SW from the Inlet Bridge to Independence Avenue SW
- West Basin Drive SW from Ohio Drive SW to Independence Avenue SW
- East Basin Drive SW east of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial to Ohio Drive SW
- Ramp from southbound and northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway to Memorial Avenue /Circle
- Ramp from northbound Virginia Route 110 to Memorial Avenue/Circle
- Ramp from Virginia Route 27 to Memorial Avenue/Circle
- The right lane of northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway from the 14th Street Bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island
Closed July Fourth from 11 a.m. until about 10 p.m.:
- 3rd Street from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Maryland Avenue SW
- Constitution Avenue NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to 14th Street NW
- 14th Street NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
Closed July Fourth from 3 p.m. until about 12 a.m., July 5:
- Eastbound U.S. Route 50 ramps to George Washington Memorial Parkway and roads in the immediate area of U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
- Southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway ramp to 14th Street Bridge (9 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. as necessary)
- Northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway ramp to 14th Street Bridge (9 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. as necessary)
Will Any Memorials or Other Services Be Closed on the Fourth of July in Washington, DC?
Yes, expect several closures.
The Washington Monument will be closed from noon on July 3 until 9 a.m. on July 6.
The World War II Memorial will close at 4 p.m. on the Fourth of July as part of the fireworks safety zone. Cleanup of the memorial will begin right after the fireworks show, and it will reopen as soon as cleanup is done, the National Park Service said.
Access to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial will be limited after 8 p.m. on the Fourth of July, the National Park Service said. Although the memorial will remain open, you won't be able to enter the memorial from Independence Avenue after 8 p.m. Access will be available from West Basin and Ohio drives.
Water taxi service to the National Mall will not be available, and paddle boats at the Tidal Basin will not operate.
Big Bus Tours will not run along the National Mall on July Fourth, nor will the D.C. Circulator’s National Mall route.
The East Potomac Tennis Center will close at 3 p.m.