Yorktown Victory Celebration
Saturday, October 16 Special Event
Salute the 240th anniversary of America’s momentous 1781 Revolutionary War victory
The 240th anniversary of America’s momentous 1781 Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown will be celebrated Saturday, October 16, at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown with artillery firings, military programs and music. Visitors can experience gallery exhibits, including the “Siege of Yorktown” experiential theater, and outdoor living-history programs each day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., following safety protocols.
While this year’s Yorktown Day parade and public commemorative ceremonies at Yorktown Battlefield and in Historic Yorktown on October 19 are cancelled in response to COVID-19, a variety of events and programs are planned in Historic Yorktown and Yorktown Battlefield. Visitors can take the free Yorktown Trolley to various Yorktown attractions between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.
At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, stories of citizens and soldiers of the American Revolution unfold daily at the expansive history museum through immersive films, exhibition galleries and outdoor re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm. On October 16, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., visitors can interact with Revolutionary War re-enactors and take part in interpretive demonstrations.
Outdoor Living History – 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Visitors to the Continental Army encampment will discover aspects of military life, from enlistment to troop supplies and flintlock muskets to 18th-century medical care. Throughout the day, visitors can take in a “Fortification School,” where an officer of His Majesty’s Corps of Engineers will conduct lessons on of the basics on how to construct, defend and attack a basic field fortification, known as a redoubt.
Artillery demonstrations, showcasing the varied roles of the artillery crew, will take place in the outdoor amphitheater at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m., each followed by the crew firing a salute in honor of the victory at Yorktown.
Farm visitors can learn about typical life of a Revolution-era farming family, including how families produced homespun clothing during the war as both a necessity and a political statement of patriotism during the war. Special demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will illustrate how to create beautifully colored fabrics using natural dyes and pigments. From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., visitors can explore 18th-century meal preparation and preservation.
Patriotic Musical Performances
Visitors can enjoy musical performances by the Fifes and Drums of York Town at 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. in the Continental Army encampment.
At 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. in the Education Center, the Old Cigar Box String Band will perform the “Great American Sing-Along,” featuring popular tunes from American history that everyone knows by heart. Visitors are encouraged to sing along as songs are performed on fiddle, banjo and bones.
Films & Exhibits
Daily indoors, visitors can take in the award-winning “Liberty Fever” introductory film and tour immersive exhibition galleries, including a 4D-experiential “Siege of Yorktown” theater that transports visitors to the Yorktown battlefield in 1781, with wind, smoke and the thunder of cannon fire. Actors portray allied Generals Washington and Rochambeau and British General Cornwallis as well as Joseph Plumb Martin, a member of the Continental Army’s Corps of Sappers and Miners who helped build fortifications at Yorktown, and Sarah Osborn, who followed the Continental Army with her husband and served food and coffee to the troops, as well as Alexander Hamilton in his first military role in the Continental Army and his famous words – “Rush On Boys!” – as the militia secures Redoubts 9 and 10. This year, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown celebrates its fifth anniversary of the opening of its indoor gallery exhibits and films, as well as its new museum name, which debuted in October 2016.
October 18 – Author Talk & Book-Signing Event in the Museum Store
At 1 p.m. on Monday, October 18, enjoy a talk by Libby Carty McNamee, author of “Susanna’s Midnight Ride: The Girl Who Won the Revolutionary War,” followed by a book signing and Q&A. This true story of revolutionary courage and conviction was the winner of the 2020 Independent Publisher Award for juvenile fiction and a 2020 Pinnacle Book Award finalist for historical fiction. Books are available for sale in the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown Gift Shop.
Commemorative Weekend Activities at Yorktown Battlefield & Historic Yorktown
Colonial National Historical Park at Yorktown Battlefield, site of the climactic 1781 siege, is open for self-guided tours. A free tour app is available at nps.gov/york/yorktown-guide-app.htm. Park Rangers are available to provide information about Yorktown Battlefield, tour roads, and Colonial National Historical Park outside the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, weather permitting. Stop by the Eastern National Park Store in the Visitor Center, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to purchase items to commemorate your visit to the park. The Visitor Center is located at 1000 Colonial Parkway at the eastern end of the Colonial Parkway, 12 miles from Williamsburg. Visitors are also encouraged to follow the park’s Facebook and Instagram for posts and programs related to Yorktown Day. For more information, visit nps.gov/colo.
Wreath-laying ceremonies on Tuesday, October 19, will honor British and Canadian forces. A 3 p.m. ceremony honoring the British will take place in the Garden at the Nelson House near the plaque honoring Lt. General Charles, Earl Cornwallis, followed by a 4 p.m. ceremony honoring the Canadian Queen’s Rangers near the commemorative plaque along the York River waterfront.
Throughout the weekend, Historic Yorktown visitors can enjoy several outdoor activities, such as sails aboard the Schooner Alliance at the Riverwalk Landing piers as well as bicycle, paddleboard and kayak rentals and Segway tours from Patriot Tours & Provisions. On Saturday, October 16, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., shop the inaugural First Responders Market, dedicated to all the men and women who work year-round to keep the community safe, a tribute especially fitting during the pandemic. Along Water and Main streets, the Watermen’s Museum will hold a Victory at Yorktown Weekend living-history programs, maritime and folk music, arts and crafts, children’s activities and vendors.
On Sunday, Oct. 17, enjoy Acoustical Guitarist Lou Vangieri performing in the Gallery at York Hall lobby from 12 to 2:30 p.m. On Tuesday, October 19, the Gallery at York Hall will present book-signing events by three authors from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
In another nod to the Franco-American alliance that led to victory during the Revolutionary War, York County will unveil a statue of Rochambeau at Riverwalk Landing on Monday, October 18, at 11 a.m. The public is invited to witness this dramatic addition to the waterfront honoring the four great leaders of the Yorktown campaign: Lafayette, Washington, Grasse and now Rochambeau.
Also in Historic Yorktown, Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters will have several ticketed historic walking tours October 16, 17 and 19, including visits to Yorktown Battlefield Surrender Field, exploring everything from the beginning of the Yorktown campaign to the climactic final week of the siege. For more information about Historic Yorktown events and programs, call (757) 890-5900 or visit visityorktown.org.
About the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, tells the story of the nation’s founding, from the twilight of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution and beyond. Comprehensive indoor exhibits and outdoor living history capture the transformational nature and epic scale of the Revolution and its relevance today. The museum is located at 200 Water Street, in Yorktown, Virginia. Parking is free.
“Yorktown Victory Celebration” event activities are included with museum admission: $16.00 for adults, and $8.00 for ages 6-12. Children ages 5 and under receive complimentary admission. Residents of York County, James City County and the City of Williamsburg, including William & Mary students, receive free admission with proof of residency. For more information, call (757) 253-4838.
On October 19, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will offer free admission to active duty, reserve and retired military personnel and up to three direct family members with military identification.
Special event activities on October 16 at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown are made possible in part by the York County Arts Commission and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc. Annual Fund.