Fireworks exploded over the Charles River and Esplanade from the roof of Boston University at 33 Harry Agganis Way on July 4, 2015. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff
By Kevin Slane
June 30, 2021
After taking 2020 off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is back, albeit in a very different form than previous years.
Rather than host its annual concert at DCR Memorial Hatch Shell, conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops orchestra announced on June 11 that they would be heading west to Lenox, Massachusetts, holding their annual concert at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood venue.
While the state of Massachusetts lifted almost all of its COVID-19 capacity restrictions months earlier than expected by May 29, the annual concert — which typically draws hundreds of thousands of spectators downtown — usually takes up to 10 months to plan, leaving organizers handcuffed.
“Though health concerns related to the pandemic have abated over the last few weeks, after careful consideration we determined there wasn’t enough time to organize the many forces needed to safely return to the Esplanade and present what is considered one of the largest concert events in the world,” Lockhart said in a statement.
With so much change afoot, there are bound to be questions about Boston’s annual patriotic pyrotechnics. Here’s everything to know about the 2021 4th of July fireworks in Boston.
All of the 2021 Fourth of July fireworks shows scheduled in Massachusetts
The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is returning this year — but not on the Esplanade
Unlike previous years, Boston’s July 4 fireworks will be launched from the Southwest portion of Boston Common instead of from the middle of the Charles River. Meanwhile, the Boston Pops concert will be held more than 100 miles away at the Tanglewood music venue in Lenox, Massachusetts.
There will also be a fireworks display in Boston on July 3 as part of the annual Boston Harborfest celebration. Boston Harborfest’s fireworks will be launched from Long Wharf above the Boston Harbor on Saturday at 9:15 p.m.
While many parts of the 2021 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular are different this year, the schedule will remain largely the same. The Boston Pops concert will begin at 8 p.m., and the fireworks are scheduled to begin at 10:30 p.m. and conclude at 11 p.m.
Initially, the city of Boston did not provide guidance to residents who wanted to watch the July 4 fireworks in person. Instead, the city encouraged residents to “enjoy a Boston Pops musical performance and fireworks show from home,” emphasizing that there would be no official public viewing areas and no video monitors or audio speakers carrying the Boston Pops performance downtown.
Earlier this week, however, the Mayor’s Office of Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment published a notice showing a map of Boston Common and listing a few possible viewing areas. While the notice reaffirmed that there would be no official public viewing areas and that residents were encouraged to watch the fireworks and musical performance “at home on TV,” it also stated that the fireworks would be visible from the Parade Ground (located at the corner of Charles Street and Beacon Street), the Frog Pond, and “other areas with sightlines to the Boston Common.”
Map showing the restricted areas for the 2021 Boston 4th of July fireworks on Boston Common.
The Boston Pops July 4th Spectacular will be broadcast nationwide on Bloomberg Television and locally on WHDH-TV Channel 7 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Below, you’ll find information on the channel number for Bloomberg TV in the Greater Boston area, sorted by provider. Viewers outside the area should check their local TV provider listings.
Comcast: 45, 757, or 844, depending on locationDISH: 203DirecTV: 353FIOS: Channel 605RCN: 325, 672
As the presenting media sponsor, Bloomberg TV will stream the 2021 Boston Pops July 4th Spectacular on Bloomberg.com. The stream will remain available for 24 days after the initial July 4 broadcast.
Besides the TV and online streaming options listed above, you can listen to audio of the Boston Pops concert on Bloomberg’s flagship stations in Boston and Newburyport (106.1 FM, 1330 AM, 1450 AM, 92.9-HD2.) For residents of Southeastern Massachusetts, the South Shore, Cape Cod, and parts of Rhode Island, the radio broadcast can be heard on 99.1 WPLM-FM.
Nationally the concert will be broadcast on SiriusXM channel 119, online at bloombergradio.com, and through the Bloomberg and iHeartRadio mobile apps.
Jon Batiste performs at the “From the Top’’ annual gala at the Back Bay Events Center. – Caitlin Cunningham
Besides the annual performance from the Boston Pops orchestra, which will be lead by Keith Lockhart for a 26th time, the concert will be headlined by Grammy-nominated jazz/R&B musician Jon Batiste and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Mavis Staples.
Batiste, 34, who recently won a Best Original Score Oscar for the Pixar film “Soul,” is perhaps best known as bandleader for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Staples, 81, is a legendary soul, gospel, and R&B singer whose 70-year musical career and work as a civil rights activist has earned her numerous plaudits, including being named a Kennedy Center Honoree and given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Along with Batiste and Staples, the Six-String Soldiers of the U.S. Army Field Band and members of the United States Air Force Band’s Singing Sergeants will perform small ensemble and choral selections during the evening.
Many Massachusetts towns and cities were forced to cancel their 2021 July 4 fireworks shows due to the logistical difficulty of trying to plan the shows at the last minute following the state’s early lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. However, more than 40 municipalities are planning to hold 4th of July fireworks celebrations spread over several days. Towns that are planning to hold shows specifically on July 4 include Barnstable, Fall River, and Waltham, while many others have fireworks slated for July 3, July 5, or other alternate dates. Click here for a full schedule of 2021 4th of July fireworks shows in Massachusetts.
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