This year’s July 4th festival starts early, with a focus on Juneteenth.
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The annual Philadelphia Festival celebrating the founding of our nation returns with a full range of in-person events from June 17 to July 4, sponsors and city officials announced Wednesday.
Now sponsored by Wawa, the Welcome America Festival has offered the city and region a free July 4th concert since its inaugural event in 1993.
It should not be confused with Made in America, a music festival of the same name founded by Jay-Z that has been taking place in Philly since 2012. The mix is common: before the pandemic, both events drew massive crowds of people. summer with live entertainment on the Ben Franklin Promenade.
This year, Welcome America leaves the Parkway to join the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. Although there is no cost, you will still need a ticket to enter the Fairmount Park site. Organizers say this will allow for greater social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precautions.
At 16 days, this year’s list of events will be the longest in festival history. For the first time, the celebration will incorporate educational programming focused on Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.
Here’s a quick rundown of some highlights from the Welcome America schedule:
- June 19: The African American Museum in Philadelphia hosts a free one-day festival, focusing on Juneteenth’s story as it relates to America’s independence
- June 20: “Rocky” is screened outside on the steps of the art museum, kicking off a series of films throughout the following week
- June 20 – July 4: Dilworth Park and Love Park host the ‘Broad + Market’ festival, featuring dozens of dance companies, musical acts and other performances
- July 1: Wawa Hoagie Day returns to Independence Mall, where Wawa staff volunteer to prepare more than 50,000 hoagies for first responders and healthcare workers
- July 4: Bebe Rexha and Flo Rida headline a daytime music festival at Mann
- July 4: The fireworks are back on the promenade, after a hiatus last year.
Made In America also announced its return in 2021 last week, with rap and electronics acts slated for Labor Day weekend in September.
Compare and contrast the two festivals, past and present.
Welcome to America: Started in 1993 by the nonprofit Welcome America, Inc., in conjunction with the opening of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The annual Independence Day celebration has since passed by many corporate sponsors. Are you old enough to remember when it was Sunoco Welcome America? Congratulations, you are old. Wawa took over in 2010.
Made in America: Rapper and business mogul Jay-Z founded MIA in 2012. Over the past nine years, he has gone through a number of different sponsors. Budweiser split from the festival in 2018 to focus more on ‘country music activations’
Welcome to America: Falling right in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic, Welcome America has gone all virtual with a TV show starring Jason Derulo and Cynthia Erivo.
Made in America: Canceled.
Welcome to America: Free, as our founders had planned.
Made in America: $ 100 and more in early bird tickets, but prices now exceed $ 160 for a two-day pass, according to StubHub. It sounds steep, but compared to other tickets with major pop artists, some regular attendees consider Made In America a good deal, especially given the central location on the east coast. Tickets purchased for last year’s canceled festival will be valid for that year, according to NJ.com.
Welcome to America: Suitable for families and children.
Made in America: Teens, young adults, and people who want to feel like young adults.
Welcome to America: The 90s feature some golden lineups: The Pointer Sisters and The Philly Pops for the inaugural event (1993); The Beach Boys (1995); Patti Labelle (1996); Ray Charles (1997); Boyz II Men (1998). Then come Earth, Wind & Fire (2000), Hall & Oates (2007) and Elton John with Patti LaBelle (2005). The Roots have regularly featured on the show since 2010.
Made in America: Jay-Z (duh), Beyoncé (double duh), Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Niki Minaj, Skrillex, J-Cole, John Mayer, Pearl Jam, Modest Mouse, The National, Death Cab for Cutie – there are too many to count. It’s a who’s who of pop, rap and rock artists over the past decade.
Welcome to America: Then-mayor Michael Nutter hosted “Rapper’s Delight” with the Roots on stage at the 2015 Independence Day concert.
Made in America: Joel Embiid mingling with the crowd at the 2018 runway show, so tall he had a better view than you on your friend’s shoulders.