Welcome America Is The Annual Festival Celebrating July 4 in Philadelphia

Each year, the Welcome America Festival is an incredible, multiple-day, fireworks aplenty, thoroughly red, white, and blue, patriotic celebration of America's birthday, in America's birthplace - Philadelphia. Read more on how to have a blast here, on this Fourth of July, and every year. We guarantee you that you'll have a great time, and you'll want to come back each summer for it.

The traditional culmination of the Welcome America festival is the Party on the Parkway. On the beautiful, elegant, flag lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway, there is is a massive, free concert by an A-list recording artist, with various smaller, lower-profile bands as opening acts, and a mind-boggling, sense-overwhelming, fireworks display behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You won't be able to run up the Rocky steps on the Fourth of July, as it will be completely closed down, as the bands will be playing on the stage directly in front of it, and fireworks will be exploded directly above the Museum of Art.

This is your survival guide, from firsthand experience, as to how you can best travel via SEPTA, to the spectacular fireworks show on Sunday night, July 4, 2010, behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art... It can best be seen from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway...

Getting to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the Fireworks

The most important, fundamental rule:

Do not even think about driving there, under any circumstances, no matter how far away you live from Center City, or how good of a parallel-parker you think you may be.

Instead, drive to the nearest SEPTA Regional Rail station, park your car, and take the train from there.

So - bottom line - Take SEPTA.

(And if you don't know how to take SEPTA, keep reading.)

SEPTA Regional Rail will be offering extended, special July 4 service, precisely to accommodate the crowds.

Here are the times of the final, special SEPTA Regional Rail trains, on each and every line, leaving from Suburban Station at 16th Street and JFK Boulevard:

Airport.......11:30 PM

Airport.......12:00 AM

Warminster....11:35 PM

Marcus Hook...11:50 PM

West Trenton..12:05 AM

Elwyn.........11:45 PM

Doylestown....11:45 PM

Malvern.......11:40 PM

Norristown....11:48 PM

Chestnut Hill East...11:51 PM

Trenton.......11:45 PM

Fox Chase.....11:39 PM

Chestnut Hill West...11:50 PM

Glenside......12:35 AM

After the Fireworks Are Over

The fireworks will generally end, with a genuine time cushion for spectators to walk back to Suburban Station. Obviously, Welcome America knows that the vast majority of people need to be on those trains, and so they work it out in advance with SEPTA, so that nobody gets stranded.

That having been said - after you've savored the last wisp of smoke over the Parkway sky - start heading back down the Parkway toward Suburban. Remember, you may be carrying a chair, and there will be throngs of people. You're not going to be able to walk as quickly as you ordinarily would, given the distance.

This is particularly true, if you went early and staked out a seat close to the Philadelphia Museum of Art - because that means that you have that much further of a walk.

Also, since the trains will be packed, the odds of your getting a seat will be greater, the earlier you make it back to Suburban Station.

Before the Fireworks Begin

We generally would recommend that you get down there as early as possible, preferably before sunset. Even if you don't care about the bands, it's a pleasant place to spend the early evening, and your patience will pay off handsomely.

Should I Bring a Chair?

It depends. If you don't mind sitting on the asphalt with a towel, that would be easier and less cumbersome. But if you'd be more comfortable with a chair, then take one with you.

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