Step back in time and explore the former capital of Colonial Virginia, where Founding Fathers like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and more walked the streets.
Both an actual town and open air museum, Colonial Williamsburg allows visitors to walk the same streets as legendary figures from the past and explore authentic and reconstructed Colonial-Era buildings. You need a ticket to enter the buildings and museums, but you can walk the streets and enter the shops and restaurants for free. Historical and haunted tours are plentiful, including carriage rides!
In many ways, Colonial Williamsburg reminds me of Tombstone, Arizona, another attempt by a living community to reconstruct history. Like Tombstone, Williamsburg got left behind when its moment in the sun passed. Its historic buildings were modified and fell into disrepair over the decades after Virginia’s capitol was moved to Richmond in 1780.
Experience England’s first permanent colony in North America come to life at this living history museum.
It’s a place of legend. John Smith and Pocahontas are household names, and they lived and walked near this ground. Jamestown Settlement is an attempt to reconstruct these historic places just over a mile from their actual location. (To see the archeological remains of the original site, you’ll have to visit nearby Historic Jamestowne.)
In 1607, the Virginia Company of London established a settlement in swampy tidewater along the James River. The colony quickly ran into trouble, and a majority of colonists died of sickness and starvation within the first few years. Relations with the indigenous population were troubled, and in 1622, the Powhatan Indians massacred a quarter of the colonists. More misfortune followed when Jamestown was burned during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676.
Jamestown Settlement got its start in 1957 and is run by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, it consists of the re-created James Fort and Powhatan town, replicas of the settlers’ original wooden sailing ships the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, and a large visitor center and museum. The Visitor Center was built for a cost of $7.4 million and opened in 2006.
The spirit of Tudor England comes alive at the Mid-Atlantic’s most popular Ren fair.
History and magic comes alive outside Annapolis at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, where a huge crowd turned out for Celtic Day last weekend. I was impressed! Jousting and chariot fights were the highlight of the day, but a menagerie of performers kept fair goers entertained throughout the day.
Welcome to Revel Grove, Oxfordshire, England in the year 1532. King Henry VIII and his mistress Anne Boleyn visit the village as part of their annual summer progress. I didn’t see much of the King and his court, but it’s possible they blended in with the costumed crowd. Visitors were deeply committed to getting into the spirit of the fair.
Rides on a colorfully-painted elephant were one of many amazing experiences for children. The Maryland Renaissance Festival is thoroughly family-friendly, with a huge play area for kids. What a great way to spark children’s imaginations!
Dozens assembled on Cemetery Ridge on Wednesday to commemorate the 156th Anniversary of “Pickett’s Charge” and the Civil War veteran events that followed.
The 4th of July, Independence Day, has special significance for all Americans, but it has duel significance for Civil War buffs. July 4, 1863 was the day after the Battle of Gettysburg and the day Vicksburg, Mississippi surrendered after a 47-day siege. Many consider this the turning point of the Civil War in the Union’s favor. The angle in a stone wall where Confederates briefly penetrated Union lines in an attack on Cemetery Ridge south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 3rd is considered the “high water mark” of the Confederacy.
The National Park Service held a series of events for the Battle of Gettysburg’s 156th anniversary this year, July 1-3. I was able to attend on July 3rd, which focused on the Confederate’s culminating attack known as “Pickett’s Charge”. Park guides gave presentations on various stages of the attack, from planning, to the cannonade, to its repulse, and a sizable crowd of approximately 50 to 60 people turned out. Not bad for a Wednesday afternoon.
Steady rain failed to dampen participants’ spirits at this lively Allegheny event.
The West Virginia Renaissance Festival is back for a second season! Taso Stavrakis and Dawn Kieninger first opened the festival in 2018, and were undeterred even after a fire destroyed a large Elizabethan-style barn earlier this year. The festival kicked off this past Saturday, June 8th, and will run every weekend in June.
My weather app assured me the rain would stop before I arrived, but when the gates opened at 11am, a steady drizzle still threatened to ruin the fun. Rain already turned the dirt roads at Hollow Hills Farm to mud. Thankfully, this wasn’t enough to deter the festival’s dedicated actors and actresses from performing.
The popular Washing Well Wenches put on a wet and sloppy vaudeville act with plenty of audience participation. These hilarious ladies are just two of many troop members who perform at Ren fairs all over the country.
Jousting, comedy, and merriment at this slice of Elizabethan England in the American South
Only open for a limited time in early summer, this classic Ren fair has all the charm of its counterparts without all the crowds. Hosted annually at Lake Anna Winery, 5621 Courthouse Road in Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, the Virginia Renaissance Faire is open for five weekends, May 11th through June 9, 2019.
Journey to the fictional village of Staffordshire, where the regal queen and her court will grace the lowly peasants with her presence. Entertainment, food, dancing, and sport re-creates the spirit of Merry England.
Plimoth Plantation, founded in 1947, is a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, featuring a replica of a 1627 Pilgrim village. It is located at 137 Warren Avenue, a few miles southeast of the actual site of the Plymouth Colony. The museum also owns and operates a replica of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower, but it was undergoing repairs when I visited in the spring.
The museum offers an impressive variety of things to see and do, including a large visitor center, Wampanoag Homesite, Craft Center, Maxwell and Nye Barns, Plimoth Grist Mill, and of course, the village itself. The visitor center has a large gift shop and even a movie theater, although it was playing two random, nonhistorical movies when I visited.