Fourth of July 2023
Stars, Stripes & Summer!
How to Celebrate Independence Day in Yorktown
Every year on the Fourth of July, the community gathers with visitors from all over the country to celebrate our nation’s founding–right here where independence was won! It’s a fun-filled day of activities for the whole family. In addition to all of the Fourth of July events, you can enjoy the beach; visit Yorktown galleries, Riverwalk Landing shops, and waterfront restaurants; and explore museums.
We're going to outline what you need to know in this Insider's Guide, including the schedule of events, changes to activities, where you can (and can't) park, and more!
Follow in the Footsteps of Heroes
We can't think of a more inspirational way to start the day than near the very place where Gen. Cornwallis raised the white flag more than 200 years ago. Start your Fourth of July weekend off by participating in either the live or virtual Yorktown Independence Day 8K/5K Run/Walk.
Race participants will park and gather near the York High School tennis courts and be led to the start line by the Fifes and Drums of York Town. The live race is run on Historic Battlefield Tour Roads, accessed from school grounds. Click here for more information and to sign up.
Wave That Red, White & Blue!
9 a.m. | Water, Ballard & Main Streets
Perhaps one of the most exciting events of the day is the annual parade! People line the streets in Historic Yorktown as groups of musicians, politicians, civic groups, and performers pass by, waving to the crowds and passing out flags. Listen to patriotic tunes from DJ Ben Herrick, as well as the Fifes and Drums of York Town. If you're wondering where to set up your chairs and blankets - the route starts at the Yorktown Beach Picnic Area on Water Street (by the fishing pier) and makes its way down Water Street, up Ballard Street, and then takes a left onto Main Street, ending near the Victory Monument.
The big question is always where to park. Your best bet is to stick to the outskirts of town and walk down to the fun. While the parade doesn't start until 9, traffic will get congested very quickly, so we recommend you arrive early to secure your parking spot.
Try the York-Poquoson Courthouse or Administration Building first (both on Ballard Street). From 8:45 to 10 a.m., Water Street will be closed from Read to Mathews Street and Ballard Street will be closed from Water Street to Alexander Hamilton Boulevard. From 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m., all traffic arriving from Alexander Hamilton Boulevard via George Washington Memorial Highway (Rt. 17) will be routed to the right onto Ballard Street. The town will re-open to vehicular traffic following the parade.
Ride the Trolley Back to Your Car!
Convenient Stops throughout Historic Yorktown
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Yorktown Trolley will run from approximately 10 a.m. (following the parade) until 5 p.m. It is free, air-conditioned, handicap accessible, and includes several convenient stops:
- Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center
- Riverwalk Landing
- Watermen’s Museum
- American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
- Intersection of Main and Ballard Streets (York Hall)
- Ballard Street (near the York-Poquoson Courthouse)
Fun Before the Fireworks
Food Trucks, Games, Hot Dog Eating Contest & Family Fun!
Riverwalk Landing | 1 - 9:45 p.m.
For those of you who want to make a day out of your visit—stick around for fun children's activities that kick off at 1 p.m. at Riverwalk Landing. Enjoy corn hole, hula hoops, and other outdoor games...even a hot dog eating contest presented by Carrot Tree Kitchens and Toby’s Dog House. They're still looking for contestants! If you're interested, call 757.988.1999. You'll have five minutes to eat as many dogs as you can. Prizes include Carrot Tree gift cards and T-shirts!
Historic Yorktown's restaurants will be open for business so you can grab lunch or dinner. There will also be several to-go options at the Patriotic Food Pavilion beginning at 3 p.m. and until the fireworks are over. This year's food trucks and vendors include local favorites like Coastal Thirst, Smoke BBQ, Kona Ice, D.A.R.E., Chef Joseph’s, Boyd’s Tasty Dogs, Little Piggy’s Wurst Nightmare, Pop’s Kettle Corn, and Snack Attack. The D.A.R.E. tent will be scooping Ben & Jerry's ice cream and serving freshly squeezed lemonade. They will also have goodies for the pint-sized patriots including glow bracelets, necklaces, and pinwheels. All Pavilion proceeds will go to support the York-Poquoson Sheriff Office’s D.A.R.E. Program.
While you’re playing games and visiting food trucks, take in the sounds of acoustical guitarist Phil Poteat starting at 2 p.m. on the Riverwalk Landing Stage.
Fifes and Drums of York Town, Bell Ringing Ceremony & Patriotic Concert
7 p.m. | Riverwalk Landing
Every Independence Day, after the reading of the Declaration of Independence, the York County Historical Museum holds a symbolic program that's been a community tradition for decades. First comes the acknowledgment of all 13 colonies, along with the original signers from the Second Continental Congress who together formed the United States of America. The Fifes and Drums of York Town kick off the event at the Riverwalk Landing Stage and each year a different child from the audience is bestowed the very special honor of ringing the bell. Following the historic program, the Super Jazz Band concert featuring Conni Ironmonger will take place, all leading up to the big fireworks finale!
Beginning at 4 p.m., unless you are a Yorktown Village resident, Historic Yorktown Village business owner, or have an official pass—the only way to get into Historic Yorktown will be via Cook Road and the Colonial Parkway. Visitors attending the evening activities must park on the Yorktown Battlefield at the corner of Cook Road and Ballard Street. The Battlefield will remain open to the public until it reaches capacity. This includes visitors attempting to access town via Goosley Road, Old Williamsburg Road, the Colonial Parkway, and Mathews Street (by way of George Washington Memorial Highway).
The Grand Finale!
Fireworks Over the York River
9:15 p.m. | Yorktown Beach & Victory Monument
You should be able to see the fireworks anywhere at the waterfront or up on Main Street at the Victory Monument. The show starts at 9:15 and lasts about 20 minutes. Some of the fireworks will shoot up to 800 feet into the sky. Just to put that in perspective a little—the Washington Monument in D.C. is 555 feet tall!
The Yorktown Battlefield, located at the corner of Cook Road and Ballard Street, will be the central parking location for the evening activities and fireworks. The Battlefield will open to the public at 4 p.m. and will close once it reaches capacity. Plan to get there early!
Know Before You Go!
The Yorktown Trolley will stop running at 5 p.m. and it's important to note that the walk from the Battlefield to the waterfront is approximately one mile and includes hills and uneven terrain. Wear comfy shoes—that includes the kids! You also don't want to pack too much stuff you'll have to carry.
Those requiring handicapped parking and special assistance are asked to report to Yorktown Middle School from 4-7 p.m. Special needs transportation will be provided for the handicapped/special needs individual and one escort for each individual. You'll be issued a pass and must hold on to it to return on the shuttle at the end of the evening. Drop-off will be at the Yorktown Waterfront, approximately 200 yards from the performance area. Due to limited shuttle capacity, all other individuals in the party will need to take a separate vehicle to park at the Battlefield. The shuttle will make return runs from the Yorktown Waterfront to Yorktown Middle School between 9:45 and 10:30 p.m.
Important Parking Information: All-day street traffic blockades include Zweybrucken Road, Comte de Grasse Street, Ambler Street, Water Street, and Main Street (from Zweybrucken to Ballard). The Yorktown Beach Picnic Area (on the corner of Water and Comte de Grasse Streets) will also be closed to vehicular traffic. Pedestrian traffic only. Church, Nelson, Smith, and Bacon Streets will be restricted to residents only.
- You may bring lawn chairs, blankets, and coolers.
- Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
- BBQ grills are restricted to the Yorktown Beach Picnic Area (with designated areas to dispose of hot coals).
- Yorktown Beach Picnic Area is open to the public but closed to vehicular traffic all day.
- It is recommended that pets remain at home as the heat, crowds, loud music, and fireworks can be upsetting.
Website & Social Media
Check out our special Fourth of July page for more on what to do while you're in town, including special programming at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. And be sure to follow Visit Yorktown on Facebook and Instagram, as that's where we'll post any and all updates the day of the event.