Seriously, is there a better place in America to celebrate the Fourth of July than Williamsburg? In times that incline us toward cynicism, here is a place where you can leave that behind for a little while, and renew your sense of patriotism.
This Independence Day combines great traditions with some fresh twists. It’s a lot more than fireworks, so we hope you’ll make plans to join us for the whole day. We’ll have inspiring programs, activities for the kids, the year’s biggest auction, music and pageantry, and tavern feasts (with exclusive seating opportunities).
You can view the special event page, but here’s a quick rundown to help you make your plans…
Our historic sites and trade shops will be open according to the usual Tuesday schedule, and there will be loads of family fun on tap. Kids shouldn’t miss Patriots at Play, the newest addition to activities at the Peyton Randolph House. Come at 11 a.m. to learn about our rare breeds in our regular twice-weekly program in the same location.
Join in on some games, occurring all day long at the Market House: Trap Ball, Game of Graces, Shut the Box, and Hoop and Stick. Just next door at the Magazine, catch the Firing of the Noon Gun (just before 12) and The Necessity of Order in Battle, a demonstration of field maneuvers at 4:20.
There are, of course, many of events that run all summer that the kids will love: be an archaeologist in Dig! and Dug!; learn about the hidden history of a historic home in Building Detectives; join a bucket brigade in Running of the Engine; use period-correct tools in Level and Plumb at the Brickyard; or beat the heat at Shields’ Ice Cream Social (3-4 p.m; additional ticket). You can also cool off in the air conditioning and play some tabletop games at the Geddy House.
The public auction starts at 1 p.m. on Market Square. It’s scheduled to run until 3, but it may not end until 5. It’s an entertaining way to score some good deals on historically-themed Colonial Williamsburg wares, sure, but there are always some auction exclusives, and the 4th of July includes a number of really special offerings.
Casting a bell! The pour is over,but skip to 36:00-37:00 to witness the pour in this recording. Check below some of our earlier posts to see the making of the mould!
Posted by Historic Trades & Skills of Colonial Williamsburg on Monday, May 29, 2017
The big prize is a bell cast by our own Geddy Foundry. And on this occasion, the special auction bell will be engraved with this year’s Independence Day logo.
The Kimball Theatre on Merchants Square will present two big screen showings of the classic musical “1776,” telling the story of the passage of the Declaration of Independence in “foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy” Philadelphia at noon and 4 p.m.
What’s the 4th without a good show? The day will be punctuated with special presentations all around town.
Young Thomas Jefferson will read the Declaration of Independence from the Capitol balcony at 9:30 a.m.; Patrick Henry will do the same at the Courthouse at noon.
A Salute to the States will feature a special military muster on Market Square at 10 a.m., with the firing of cannon and muskets, and the flags of the original 13 states.
Stop by the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg for Mr. Key’s Poem: Our National Anthem, a special musical program that will be presented at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Join Francis Scott Key, who wrote the words that became the lyrics, as he recounts the battle in Baltimore’s harbor that inspired him. He’ll be joined by musicians Kelly Kennedy and John Turner, playing popular songs from the early 19th century (separate ticket required).
With evening, of course, come the fireworks. This year we’ll kick off the pageantry with a short program at the Governor’s Palace beginning at about 8:45 p.m. Young Thomas Jefferson will read the Declaration of Independence, and a patriotic procession will make its way all the way down the center of Palace Green. This is new, and promises to bring the celebration right into the crowd.
The fireworks are slated to begin at about 9:20, with 600-foot-high blasts coming from Great Hopes Plantation paired with elegant lower-altitude displays framing the Palace from their launching point in the garden. The fireworks will be accompanied by a selection of patriotic and 18th-century music.
And we’ll be looking for your help. We want to light up Palace Green with “the light of freedom” –ok, white glow sticks. Cell phones will do in a pinch. But here’s our chance to celebrate the nation’s birthday in all our diversity, standing and cheering as one.
We’ve got some very special offerings at the historic taverns on the 4th, but reservations are highly recommended for meals. Click links for pricing and information on making reservations.
Join us under the pavilion in the lovely backyard of Shields Tavern for our traditional Chesapeake Bay Breakfast Buffet. The choices include all the basics of a good southern bacon-and-eggs breakfast as well as treats like Rappahannock Oysters Au Gratin and Chesapeake Bay Crab eggs benedict with a chervil hollandaise. Chat with Thomas and Martha Jefferson, then join them for the walk to the Capitol, where Mr. Jefferson will read the Declaration at 9:30 a.m.
Dinner Theater: The Life of a Jolly Pyrate, 5-6:15 p.m.
Family fun and a three-course meal at Shields Tavern.
Williamsburg Lodge Family Fourth of July Celebration, 4-7:30 p.m.
Guests are invited to celebrate the holiday with an evening of food, entertainment and fireworks for the entire family. The games start at 4 p.m. on the lawn, then the buffet dinner begins at 5 in the Virginia Room. The fifes and drums will escort guests to special seating on the Palace Green for the big fireworks finale.
Thomas Jefferson Wine Dinner, 6-8 p.m.
The wine dinner also includes access to a VIP viewing area on Palace Green for the evening’s finale of pageantry and fireworks. But first, enjoy a four-course meal of some of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite dishes paired with his favorite wines from around the world. Young Thomas Jefferson will be there to share stories that explain the history behind each part of the dinner, which includes a champagne toast, Chesapeake Bay-style crab cake, roasted golden beet salad, pan-seared petite filet of beef, and dark chocolate truffle tart. You will get to keep your specially-engraved dessert glass as a souvenir.
Chowning’s Independence Day Celebration, 6-9 p.m.
Enjoy music, games, and an all-you-can-eat buffet in the oasis of the Chowning’s garden. Relax before the fireworks and enjoy Michael Twitty’s famous mop-rubbed Virginia spare ribs, curry grilled chicken drumettes, a groaning board of fresh veggies and salads, and much more. Your ticket includes all the food and all the fun, as well as your own engraved pint glass and two drink tickets.
Keep in mind that all programs are subject to change depending on weather and other factors. Follow Colonial Williamsburg social media channels for the latest details. And if you want to start getting ready now, check out our patriotic gear available online.