Wawa Welcome America, Philadelphia’s annual festival celebrating America’s birthday in its birthplace, returns in 2022 with 16 days of multicultural, multigenerational events that honor freedom and liberty from Juneteenth (June 19, 2022) through Independence Day (July 4, 2022). In addition to star-studded concerts (Jason Derulo, Ava Max, Tori Kelly and Yolanda Adams), elaborate fireworks shows above both rivers, the return of the patriotic Philly POPS performance in front of Independence Hall and a massive hoagie giveaway (seven tons, to be exact; how Philly is that?), the event lineup features cultural, community-centered programs that showcase different perspectives on what independence means in the United States. In total, the festival includes more than 25 free events and free admission to more than 35 museums.
With Independence Day falling on a Monday this year, it’s the perfect time to make it a long weekend in the city. Revelers can extend the fun by booking the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, which includes free hotel parking (up to $100) and two untimed tickets to the world-premiere Harry Potter: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute.
Here’s a look at some of this year’s Wawa Welcome America highlights. For a complete guide to the festivities, click here.
- African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) Happenings: There are several events and programs at AAMP this year, including a daylong Juneteenth Block Party with live performances, local vendors and free museum admission (with online registration), June 19, 2022; and the Summer Solstice White Party hosted by Philadelphia icon Barbara Sheree and featuring the region’s best musical talent. June 30, 2022.
- Free Museum Days: More than 30 of Philadelphia’s celebrated cultural institutions offer free admission on select days throughout the festival. Among them: African American Museum in Philadelphia (June 19, 2022), Eastern State Penitentiary (June 22, 2022), National Constitution Center (June 29, 2022), Barnes Foundation (July 3, 2022) and more.
- Live Music Galore: As always, the festival features tons of live music for all ages and tastes. Chill Moody’s Like.nicethings Event comes to East Market Plaza for an evening of performances by some of the city’s top female talent, June 23, 2022. Also on tap: the US Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus at Independence National Historical Park, June 24, 2022; Gospel on Independence, featuring the legendary Yolanda Adams, also at Independence National Historical Park, June 26, 2022; Pershing Own Concert & Waterfront Fireworks on the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, July 2, 2022; POPS on Independence, making its triumphant return to Independence National Historical Park this year, July 3, 2022; and, of course, the Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert, returning to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (see below), July 4, 2022.
- Avenue of the Arts Block Party: Taking over portions of Broad and Spruce streets, this daylong party includes live performances from Bill Jolly, Rated Art and Zo, featuring lead singer Gina Castanzo from NBC’s The Voice; cocktails at the Garces Beer Garden; and a chance to zipline across Broad Street and zoom down a massive slide. Inside the Kimmel Cultural Campus, cast members from Moulin Rouge! The Musical perform, and audience members learn warm-ups and choreography from The Lion King on Tour and Broadway. June 25, 2022.
- Wawa Hoagie Day: During this ever-popular event, festivalgoers can snag one of Wawa’s signature sandwiches (seven tons of them!) on Independence Mall while enjoying the sounds of Six String Soldiers of The United States Army String Band. June 29, 2022.
- Our America Now: Expressions of Freedom & Waterfront Fireworks: Set along Philadelphia’s waterfront, this immersive experience brings to life pivotal moments in history and tells the stories of influential individuals through diverse voices. Artists from Olive Dance Theatre and We The People Stage use spoken word, dance and song to portray personal and historical stories rooted in passionate expressions of freedom. Guests can also expect DJs, food trucks and more. It’s followed by a grand fireworks finale above the Delaware River. July 1, 2022.
- Fourth of July Festivities: The culmination of the festival on Independence Day itself begins with the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony in front of Independence Hall, featuring special guests and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. The festivities continue with the Salute to America Independence Day Parade along Market Street, and segue into the Party on the Parkway, with three performance stages, entertainment, games, food trucks, giveaways and more. And to cap the night off in a major way is the Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert, with the Philly POPs, Jason Derulo, Ava Max and Tori Kelly. Following the concert, the Wawa Welcome America Fireworks Spectacular lights up the sky above the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
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