Events Guide: Yorktown Day

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The Yorktown Victory Monument will be the site of several Yorktown Day activities. (Elizabeth Hornsby/WYDaily)
The Yorktown Victory Monument will be the site of several Yorktown Day activities. (Elizabeth Hornsby/WYDaily)

Monday is Yorktown Day, an annual celebration of the victory at Yorktown that won the Revolutionary War.

This year will be the 234th anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown, and locals can take part in a number of programs, tours and displays to commemorate that momentous event throughout the weekend.

Yorktown Victory Center

Head over to this premier museum of the American Revolution on Saturday and Sunday for numerous concerts and special programs celebrating all things Yorktown, in addition to its regular immersive and interactive offerings on life during the war.

Music lovers will have the chance to enjoy an assortment of military and patriotic concerts and performances.

  • The Cigar Box String Band will lead a “Great American Sing-Along” both days. This family-friendly concert will take place at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday and at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
  • The Fifes and Drums of York Town will perform at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and 3:15 p.m. Sunday.
  • Field Musick Virginia will present a mix of military music and instrumental history at 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday and noon and 3:45 p.m. Sunday.
  • The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, a unit of the oldest infantry regiment in the active Army, will perform at 1 and 2:45 p.m. Sunday.

Visitors can also check out the Continental Army encampment, where they can learn the steps to firing an artillery piece and see it fired daily at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Guests can also attend special programs on solider training at 10 a.m., spying in the Revolutionary War at 1:30 p.m. and military discipline at 4 p.m.

Over at the museum’s farm area visitors can take part in a stamp tax protest at 12:30 p.m. or attend informative programs on textiles, colonial meal preparation or the citizen militia. The textile program takes place daily at 11 a.m., followed by meal preparation at 11:30 a.m. and citizen militia at 3:30 p.m.

For the full revolutionary experience, guests can register for “Enlist!” This daily one-hour program at 2 p.m. gives visitors the chance to sign enlistment papers, march and drill with wooden muskets, build living quarters and defensive earthworks, learn about espionage, roll a musket cartridge, see artillery firing and receive orders from Gen. George Washington himself. This program is $10 on top of general admission.

For a more subdued but equally fascinating experience, check out on the daily public lectures at the museum. Tomas Ellis, president of The Lafayette-Hamilton Education & Historic Preservation Initiative, will present “Commanding the Attack on Redoubt 10: The Leadership of Lafayette, Hamilton, Gimat, and Laurens” on Saturday. On Sunday, author and historian John R. Maass will discuss his book “The Road to Yorktown,” followed by a book signing. Both lectures will take place at 2 p.m.

Yorktown Battlefield

Walk on the grounds where the actual siege of Yorktown took place in 1781 at Yorktown Battlefield, a component of Colonial Historical National Park. The park will offer a variety of tours and programs on both Saturday and Sunday.

The British Royal Artillery will demonstrate the firing of a replica British cannon on the battlefield at 12:15, 1:15, 2:15 and 3:15 p.m. Saturday. Lamb’s Artillery, a volunteer unit depicting a regiment from the 2nd Continental Artillery, will take their turn firing an 18-pound siege cannon at those same times Sunday.

Visitors can enjoy guided walking tours of Yorktown Battlefield at 10:15 a.m.,11:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. each day. Additionally, guests can take their own tours through the Nelson House, home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the Moore House, where surrender negotiations took place, between 1 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

In Yorktown

The festivities on Yorktown Day will begin with a commemorative ceremony at the French Cemetery at the Battlefield. This event is sponsored by the American Friends of Lafayette and the Friends of Rochambeau, and will begin at 8:45 a.m.

A wreath-laying ceremony sponsored by the Virginia Society of Sons of the American Revolution will take place at the grave of Gov. Thomas Nelson Jr. at Grace Episcopal Church at 9 a.m.

A wreath-laying ceremony at the French Monument in memory of French war veterans will take place at 9:15 a.m.

The Yorktown Day Parade will kick off at 10:30 a.m. and follow its traditional route down Yorktown’s Main Street and continuing on to the Monument. It will include 35 units representing all branches of the U.S. military, several fife and drum corps and other patriotic organizations.

Patriotic exercises will commence in front of the monument at 11:15 a.m., beginning the pageant of flags, a colorful display that includes the American and French national colors, the flags of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The exercises will conclude with a wreath-laying ceremony sponsored by the Yorktown Day Association.

For more information about Yorktown and this history of Yorktown Day, click here.