There are two things that matter most in Boston: summer and freedom. Naturally, Independence Day celebrations are a tentpole of any Bostonian summer plans—but this year’s arrive with more gusto and gravitas than any in recent memory. The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular returns for 2022 to the iconic Hatch Shell pavilion on the Charles River Esplanade after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. On Monday, July 4, 2022, the city will once again swell with residents taking to their roof decks, suburbanites riding the Commuter Rail into town to gathering on the banks of the Charles, and travelers coming from around the world to witness what it means to be American, at a time when being American feels more fraught than ever before.
Still, traditions in this town carry on. For a short while during the fireworks on Monday evening, all residents of and visitors to this great American city will look up at the night sky to be reminded that our freedom is something we should never take for granted. Whether you’re in town or tuning in from away, here’s where you can watch the Boston 4th of July fireworks, too.
The Charles River Esplanade
Everybody needs to do it at least once. Watching the fireworks from the Esplanade—roughly between the Museum of Science down to the Boston University Bridge—is a quintessential Boston experience, but not suggested for the agoraphobic. If you want to go straight into the belly of the beast, gates open at the Hatch Shell’s lawn at 9 a.m., and spots fill up notoriously quickly. The fireworks kick off at 10:30 p.m.
If reserved seating is more your vibe, then get a ticket to Community Boating’s annual SAILabration fundraiser, the only event offering reserved seating on the Esplanade on July 4. It will cost you $75 per person, but that price includes plenty of space to stretch your legs, as well as unlimited water, seltzer, and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream to beat the heat, so the cost of admission pays for itself.
In Boston Harbor, two days early
Fun fact: in addition to the iconic Boston Pops fireworks on July 4 that launch from the Charles River, fireworks-seekers can also enjoy displays on the evening of Saturday, July 2 as part of Harborfest, which launches fireworks over Boston Harbor, on the eastern side of the city between downtown and the Seaport. To make a night of it, book a table at Woods Hill Pier 4, one of the best farm-to-table restaurants in New England, and home to one of the one of the biggest waterfront patios in Boston. Every seat at the Boston Harbor Hotel's Rowes Wharf Sea Grille also offers harbor views.
On a kayak with Paddle Boston
Every Independence Day, the Charles River chokes with anchored boats awaiting the evening’s fireworks. If you can’t simply score an invite on a friend’s boat, a rented kayak will do just fine—and beloved outfitter Paddle Boston's launch location in Cambridge's Kendall Square, just across the river from the Hatch Shell, is an easy five-minute row to the heart of the action. This year, Paddle Boston will also offer guided tours in their 10-person canoes—a great option for solo visitors looking to make new friends, or groups of friends looking to explore Boston from the water on the city’s most exciting night of the year.
From Cambridge, Charlestown, and remotely
The classic spot from which to watch the fireworks in Cambridge is the grassy quadrangle at M.I.T., where a giant screen live-streaming the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. The view from this side of the river—with the city skyline in the background and more sweeping vantage points over the Charles River—might just beat being on the Esplanade itself.
For something with more local flavor, head across the Charles over to “The Town”—the oldest neighborhood in Boston, Charlestown—where The Anchor, a sprawling waterfront beer garden, offers plenty of space to move around and a clear line of sight to the fireworks barge. If you’re feeling more like catching the fireworks from the comfort of your own home, tune in on Bloomberg TV, or WHDH Channel 7.