It’s Stars, Stripes and Big-Name Stars in Philadelphia for Fourth of July;

Elton John, Patti LaBelle, Dave Matthews, Will Smith, Sarah McLachlan and Stevie Wonder Are Among Those Performing in America’s Birthplace Over the Weekend

PHILADELPHIA, June 2 /PRNewswire/ — Philadelphia’s 229th Fourth of July celebration promises to be one of the most momentous in history, with long-established patriotic remembrances, large-scale music events and fireworks taking place over the long four-day holiday. It’s stars, stripes and big-name stars in America’s birthplace, with Independence Day weekend performances by Elton John, Patti LaBelle, Dave Matthews, Will Smith, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops and dozens of other performers playing free concerts.

The two largest events are expected to draw more than a million people to the famed steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “Live 8,” a Bob Geldof- produced concert taking place on July 2, aims to save millions of lives in Africa, and will be part of a simultaneous concert series in London, Paris, Rome and Berlin, seen by more than a billion people worldwide. The “Sunoco Philadelphia Freedom Concert,” Elton John’s Fourth of July performance, will raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis. The “Philadelphia Freedom Ball,” a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS programs and services, will be held prior to the concert.

In addition to hosting mega musical happenings, the city will continue its Independence Day traditions with the touching “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony at the Liberty Bell Center, a parade along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and spectacular fireworks displays throughout the weekend.

For full details on Philadelphia’s Fourth of July celebration and to book hotel accommodations, visitors are encouraged to log onto http://www.gophila.com/. Here’s a look at the weekend’s highlights:

July 1
— With extended hours at the Independence Visitor Center, Independence
Hall, the Liberty Bell Center and the National Constitution Center,
Independence Mall will be bustling all weekend long with special
events and exhibits, ranging from playful to serious. The moving
“Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of the War in Iraq” exhibition will
be on view on the lawn of the Independence Visitor Center, while the
National Constitution Center hosts “May the Fourth Be With You,”
featuring “Star Wars” screenings. Throughout the weekend visitors
can also experience the Historic District’s newest offering, “Once
Upon A Nation,” a summer-long storytelling festival highlighting the
nation’s best undertold tales. http://www.gophila.com/

July 2
— Two decades after Philadelphia’s precedent-setting “Live Aid”
concert, a show that raised unparalleled global awareness and funds
for the war against hunger, Bob Geldof is ready to do it again.
Called “Live 8,” the free concert in front of the Philadelphia Museum
of Art, will feature an ever-growing lineup of artists, including
Dave Matthews, Will Smith, Sarah McLachlan, Bon Jovi, Rob Thomas and
Stevie Wonder. Philadelphia and London will be the main stages,
supported by concerts in Paris, Rome and Berlin – all of which will
be carried online by AOL and on television around the world. The
goal of the concert is to influence world leaders at the G8 Summit
“to make poverty history.” http://www.live8live.org/

— “Sunoco Welcome America’s” first annual rhythm-and-blues concert
features nationally acclaimed “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard
and pop music diva Stephanie Mills. Taking place at The Great Plaza
at Penn’s Landing, the concert will celebrate the legacy of Gamble &
Huff, creators of The Sound of Philadelphia, and their founding of
the national Rhythm and Blues Foundation in Philadelphia.
http://www.americasbirthday.com/

July 3
— For the second year in a row, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops will
take to the stage in front of Independence Hall to perform a free
concert in honor of the nation’s birthday and to celebrate the first-
time lighting of this historic building. The concert will begin at
8:00 p.m. and conclude with the lighting ceremony at sundown. The
lighting project is part of a $5 million effort by the Park Service
to beautify Independence Square. http://www.nps.gov/inde

July 4
— When the Normandy Bell, an exact replica of the Liberty Bell, rings
on July 4, at the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony (2:00 p.m. at the
Liberty Bell Center), onlookers will hear the true sound of the
Liberty Bell for the first time. A gift from France to the U.S. that
was cast in honor of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the Normandy Bell
will be on display at the National Constitution Center from July 1-3
and July 5-September 30. On the Fourth, military personnel will
escort the Bell from the National Constitution Center to the Liberty
Bell Center for “Let Freedom Ring.” http://www.gophila.com/

— The week-long music fest ends with the “Sunoco Philadelphia Freedom
Concert” on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Sir Elton John makes a rare, free concert performance with special
guests Patti LaBelle, Bryan Adams, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops and
others to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Presented by the
Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the
two-hour concert begins at 8:30 p.m. http://www.phillyfreedom.net/.

This Fourth of July weekend promises to be a sellout in Philadelphia. Visitors can book hotel rooms directly through their favorite hotel or online at http://www.gophila.com/.

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) builds the region’s economy and image through destination marketing to increase the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county region. For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit http://www.gophila.com/ or call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Independence National Historical Park, at (800) 537-7676.

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