Credit: Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Independence Day is fast approaching, and in the city that created America, you know the celebration is huge.

The Wawa Welcome America festival brings a weeklong extravaganza full of fireworks, hoagies and live music performances. There are Fourth-themed events throughout the week and fireworks all over the city — probably even in your neighbor’s backyard, because this is the first Independence Day since 1939 that Philly residents can legally set off airborne fireworks.

That’s all well and good, but maybe you’re not feeling like being a USA booster this Fourth of July. In the past few weeks, Philadelphians all over the city have expressed their dissatisfaction with the way the country is being run, from targeting specific federal politicians to dragging people involved in implementing its immigration policy.

It’s actually very patriotic to be unhappy about the current government — that’s what this holiday commemorates, after all.

But if you’re not feeling jingoistic right now, you’re in luck. Yes, Philadelphia is the birthplace of the nation, but that’s not all we’ve got. This city also boasts killer music, art, food and booze scenes.

Here’s a bunch of stuff you can do this Fourth that’s not colored red-white-and-blue.


Not to be confused with Uncle Sam, this Sam Smith concert has nothing to do with the United States of America. The popular British singer-songwriter isn’t even from America — so you’re safe there. Smith will perform his most recent album, “The Thrill of it All,” at the Wells Fargo Center on the Fourth of July as part of his North American tour.

Oh, and apparently Smith just got out of a messy breakup, so he could probably use your support. Tickets are still available online.


Disclaimer: this one is dangerously close to Independence Hall, where patriotic celebrations are set to unfold all week. But what’s more distracting than alcohol?

The Bourse Marketplace, a historic food hall set to open this summer near Fourth and Market , will open a pop-up beer garden on its front steps this week. Open noon to midnight until July 3, it’ll boast $7 beers, $10 cocktails and cheap Philly snacks like soft pretzels and water ice.


This is your last chance to visit a formal exhibit at Old City’s Painted Bride Art Center, which announced plans to sell its building in November and continue to run as a project-based organization.

Just opened Sunday, July 1, “92 to Now” is a two-story exhibit produced by artist Danny Simmons. It’s meant to commemorate his entire career, featuring a timeline of his paintings and multimedia collages from 1992 to 2018.

You can buy tickets at the Box Office at 230 Vine St., Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

More art

The Clay Studio National is an art exhibit held every two years. It displays contemporary ceramic art, both functional and sculptural, being made in the United States.

This is a juried exhibit, so participants will judged by a panel and ranked. Among the jurors is Beth Ann Gerstein, the executive director of the American Museum of Ceramic Art.

The Clay Studio National will remain open at 137 North Second St. until July 14. On the Fourth, you can stop in from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.


On the first Wednesday of every month, Tia Flores hosts its special Game Show Night. Independence Day is no exception.

The Mexican restaurant on South Street near 16th will offer Family Feud, Cat Bingo and Quizzo from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. They’re also promising a “speed round” — basically a drinking contest for bonus points.

If the games aren’t for you, the deals might be. There will be dollar tacos, plus what they’re calling a City Wide Bucket Special (five cans of Tecate and five tequila shots for $25).

Open mic

At Philadelphia Brewing Co. on the Fourth of July, there will be whiskey.

This Kensington bar hosts an event every week titled “Whiskey Unplugged,” combining liquor and karaoke. There’s an open mic from 8 to 10 p.m. and a bargain: any pour of any brand of whiskey gets you a pint of beer for an additional $2.

Plus, there’s no cover charge.


If you’re willing to make the 45-minute drive out to Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, there’s a treat in it for you. Seriously — we wouldn’t share a ‘burbs event unless it sounded good.

Hosted by Pet Valu, a dog socializaiton class is scheduled for the Fourth at 6:30 p.m. Dogs (and their owners) of all ages are welcome at this event, where they’ll be taught to better get along with fellow pups.

To register, call the Jenkintown Pet Valu at (215) 572-6349.


Bear with us on this one. Hosted by the Continental Chess Association, the 46th annual World Open chess tournament is coming to Philly the week of Independence Day. The best chess players on planet earth will evidently participate in the battle of their careers at the Philadelphia Marriott at 1201 Market St.

And if you’re worried it won’t be exciting, apparently this tournament expects to award $225,000 in guaranteed cash prizes to competitors.

Sound like fun? Tickets start at $15.

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...