Yorktown's Insider's Guide to an All-American July Fourth!
Nothing says Fourth of July in America like a patriotic parade, hot dog eating contest, and awesome fireworks over the river. This will be Yorktown's 39th annual Independence Day Celebration, and it's guaranteed to be fun for the whole family. On this significant day in history—join your neighbors and friends to acknowledge our freedom, in the very location where it was won.
From sunup to sundown, it's going to be an action-packed day full of fun for the whole family. In addition to all of the July Fourth events, you can enjoy the beach; visit our shops and restaurants; and explore our museums. We're going to outline everything you need to know in this special Insider's Guide including the schedule, new activities, where you can (and can't) park; and even some fun facts about the fireworks!
Follow in the Footsteps of Heroes - 8 a.m.
Independence Day 8K & 5K Run/Walk
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. You can register for either the 8K Run or the 5K Walk with projected courses along the tree-lined tour roads, in the shadow of Surrender Field. The 8K starts promptly at 8 a.m. and the 5K begins ten minutes later. Both routes start on Historical Tour Road in the Battlefield just past the George Washington Memorial Highway (Route 17) overpass. The 8K loops the Battlefield and finishes beyond Surrender Field. The 5K runs out Historical Tour Road, turns around midpoint, and finishes back at the starting line.
Preregistration is recommended and you can do so by clicking here. The cost is $40 until July 3, but you must register by June 15 to guarantee your race t-shirt. Runners and walkers can also register the day of the event for $45. Proceeds from this event support the York County Historical Museum, a volunteer, non-profit organization.
Early packet pickup is available Tuesday, July 3, at Water Street Grille from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Race-day check-in/late registration begins at 6:30 a.m. at York High School. Awards will be handed out for Top three Male and Female finishers in each age group. All runners and walkers completing the course receive Finishers Medals.
Wave That Red, White & Blue!
Patriotic Parade - 9 a.m.
Perhaps one of the most fun events of the day is the annual parade! People line the streets in Historic Yorktown as the groups of musicians, politicians, civic groups, and performers pass by, waving to the crowds and passing out flags. Listen to music from the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Ceremonial Band, 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 from the Beach Picnic area on Water Street and makes its way down Water Street to Ballard Street, where it turns up the hill, and then takes a left on to Main Street, ending at the Victory Monument.
The big question, especially if this is your first parade is... Where do I park? You basically need to stick to the outskirts of town to park and walk down to the fun. While the parade doesn't start until 9, traffic will get congested extremely quickly so we recommend you arrive early to secure your parking spot. We recommend you first try the County Courthouse and Administration Building (both side-by-side on Ballard Street). A half an hour before the parade starts, Water Street from Comte de Grasse Street to Ballard Street will be closed. Also blocked off will be Ballard Street, from Water to Main Street. Once the parade starts, if you're arriving from George Washington Memorial Highway on to Alexander Hamilton, you will not be able to turn left on Ballard Street. The town will re-open to traffic following the parade!
The Yorktown Trolley, the only form of public transportation in Yorktown, 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)
- Intersection of Ballard Street and Alexander Hamilton Blvd.
Important Parking Information: All-day street traffic blockades include Zweybrucken Road, Comte de Grasse Street, and Main Street (from Zweybrucken to Ballard). The Beach Picnic Area will also be closed to vehicular traffic. Pedestrian traffic only. Church, Nelson, Smith, and Bacon Streets will be restricted to residents only.
Fun Before the Fireworks
Food Trucks, Face Painting & Family Fun!
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 face painting, games, and even a hot dog eating contest presented by Carrot Tree Kitchens. Historic Yorktown's restaurants will be open for business so you can grab lunch, and there will also be several to-go options at the Patriotic Food Pavilion, open from 4 – 9:15 p.m. This year's list of food trucks and vendors keeps growing, but for now includes local favorites like Carrot Tree, Smoke BBQ, Shorty’s Diner, Mama Barbara’s Kitchen, Kathi’s Clam Chowder, Pop’s Kettle Corn, and Ben & Jerry’s. Pavilion proceeds will go to support the York-Poquoson Sheriff Office’s D.A.R.E. Program.
Evening Activities - 7 p.m.
Bell Ringing Ceremony & Patriotic Concert
Every Independence Day, after the reading of the Declaration of Independence, the York County Historical Museum holds a symbolic and historic program that's been a community tradition here in York County 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 Performance Stage and each year a different child from the audience is bestowed the very special honor of ringing the bell. Following the historic program, Glen Boswick & Lil' Bit of Swing will take the stage to perform a patriotic concert leading up to the big fireworks finale!
Beginning at 4 p.m., unless you are a Historic Yorktown resident, Riverwalk Landing business staff, or have an official pass—the only way to get into Historic Yorktown will be via Cook Road. 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!
Enjoy Spectacular Fireworks Over the York River
You should be able to see the fireworks anywhere at the waterfront. The show starts around 9 p.m. and lasts about 15-18 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 the fireworks. The Battlefield will open to the public at 4 p.m. and will close once it reaches capacity. We can't emphasize it enough; get there early!
The Trolley stops 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 onto 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, we politely request all other individuals in the party 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 – 10:30 p.m.
- You may bring lawn chairs, blankets, and coolers
- Alcoholic beverages are prohibited!
- BBQ grills are restricted to the beach picnic areas (with designated areas to dispose of hot coals)
- 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 crowds, loud music, and fireworks can be upsetting
Follow us on Facebook for a Chance to Win $50 to Riverwalk Restaurant or Water Street Grille!
We want to see your very best display of patriotism! Be sure to follow "Visit Yorktown" on Facebook. On July Fourth we'll share a post where you can upload pictures of your red, white, and blue attire. We'll select the top three the next morning, and will open up voting to the public.The picture with the highest likes, loves, etc. will get a $50 gift certificate that can be used at Riverwalk Restaurant or Water Street Grille. Click here for the link to our FB event where we will be posting updates and announcements leading up to the big day.