Yorktown Victory Celebration
Saturday, October 17 Special Event
Salute the 239th anniversary of America’s momentous 1781 Revolutionary War victory
The 239th anniversary of America’s momentous 1781 Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown was celebrated Saturday, October 17, at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown with immersive exhibits and outdoor living-history experiences, artillery firings and military programs. 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 new 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. Visitors can take the free Yorktown Trolley to various Yorktown attractions between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily, following safety protocols. See details below.
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 17, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., visitors safely interacted with Revolutionary War re-enactors and took 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. The October 17 special event featured a “Fortification School,” led by an officer of His Majesty’s Corps of Engineers, offering basics on how to construct, defend and attack a field fortification, known as a redoubt.
Farm visitors can learn about typical life of a Revolution-era farming family, including how families produced homespun clothing during the war and assist in turning plant fibers for cloth. Special demonstrations by historical interpreters on October 17 illustrated how to create beautifully colored fabrics using natural dyes and pigments. Throughout the day, visitors can explore 18th-century meal preparation and preservation.
Films & Exhibits
Each day indoors, visitors can take in the “Liberty Fever” introductory film, 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.
Events in Historic Yorktown and Yorktown Battlefield
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 and Colonial National Historical Park outside the Visitor Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, weather permitting. Stop by the Eastern National Park Store in the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center, Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 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. For more information, visit nps.gov/colo.
Throughout the weekend, Historic Yorktown visitors could enjoy several outdoor activities including sails aboard the Schooner Alliance at the Riverwalk Landing piers as well as bicycle, paddle board and kayak rentals from Patriot Tours & Provisions, which also provides guided Segway tours. On Saturday, Oct. 17, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., visitors shopped 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. Down the street, the Watermen’s Museum held its rescheduled Oyster Roast from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is in addition to their two-day Maritime Heritage Festival featuring re-enactors, sea shanties, vendors and boat building. Yorktown Ghost Walks are offering ticketed evening tours that must be booked in advance.
On Main Street, enjoy local art at On the Hill Gallery and the Gallery at York Hall. Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters will have several ticketed historic walking tours Oct. 16 through 19 including visits to Surrender Field, offering a look at everything from the beginning of the Yorktown Campaign to the climactic final week of the Siege. On Sunday, a Victory and Alliance French Wine & History Celebration included a tasting of French wines while learning about our Ally’s invaluable contributions to the Revolution.
Visitors can take the free Yorktown Trolley to various attractions, including Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily through November 15. Due to COVID-19, safety precautions remain in place for both passengers and drivers. If ridership is high, capacity may be limited briefly to allow for socially distanced seating. Everyone on board is asked to wear a face mask unless a medical condition prevents one from doing so. Hand sanitizer is available upon boarding and the seats and hold bars are cleaned frequently. To learn more about Historic Yorktown events and programs, call (757) 898-3500 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: $17.50 for adults, and $7.75 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 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.
Special event activities 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.