Colonial National Historical Park Annual Commemorative Event
Yorktown Day marks the anniversary of the American-French victory in 1781 over the British. In 1781, following a nine-day bombardment, British forces in Yorktown under General Charles Cornwallis requested a cease-fire and then surrendered more than 8,000 soldiers and sailors to the combined American and French armies commanded by General George Washington. This was the last major military action of the American Revolution, effectively securing independence for the American colonies following a six-and-a-half-year military struggle.
The modern-day observance of Yorktown Day traces its roots to 1922, when the Daughters of the American Revolution began an annual wreath-laying ceremony, which set the tradition upon which the current Yorktown Day is based. On October 19, Yorktown Day commemorative events are co-sponsored by the Yorktown Day Association, comprised of 13 civic, patriotic and government organizations, and the National Park Service, Colonial National Historical Park.
The Yorktown Day events are a prelude to weekend programs on Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20, with artillery demonstrations, military music and hands-on interpretive programs at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open house tours at Yorktown Battlefield, and special events in Historic Yorktown.
Yorktown Day – October 19
8:30 a.m. – Commemorative Ceremony at the French Cemetery, Yorktown Battlefield (Depart for Cemetery from Surrender Field)
9:10 a.m. – Commemorative Ceremony at the French Memorial honoring the French and American Alliance
9:15 a.m. – Wreath laying ceremony at the grave of Governor Thomas Nelson, Jr. at Grace Episcopal Church, Yorktown
10:30 am – Yorktown Day Parade: The route will follow Yorktown’s Main Street and pass in front of the Monument to Alliance and Victory, erected in 1881 to commemorate the military victory a century before. Included in the 35 parade units are representatives of all branches of the U.S. military, fifes and drums corps – including The U.S. Army Old Guard Fifes & Drums Corps – JROTC and NJROTC units, and patriotic organizations.
11:15 a.m. – Parade of Flags: Annual parade of flags that includes the 3rd Infantry Color Guard and flags of the 13 Yorktown Day Association members. At the conclusion of the patriotic exercises, a wreath will be placed on the monument in memory of those who fought and died during the siege of Yorktown in 1781.
1:00 p.m. – The Old Guard Fifes & Drums Corps: Performance at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center.
1:45 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. – Revolutionary War guided tours
Events sponsored by Colonial National Historical Park and the Yorktown Day Association.
Due to the closure of numerous streets for Yorktown Day activities, the Trolley will run from the Battlefield Visitor Center to American Revolution Museum at Yorktown from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on a modified route. It will resume its regular stops once the parade has ended and traffic has cleared out of town, with service running until 5 p.m.
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown – Oct. 19 & 20
The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will present a variety of hands-on experiences, artillery firings and military music. Stories of citizens and soldiers of the American Revolution unfold at the expansive history museum through an introductory film, exhibition galleries and outdoor re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm. Visitors can interact with Revolutionary War re-enactors, take part in interpretive demonstrations, and experience the “Siege of Yorktown” immersive theater.
The event is included with museum admission. Residents of York County, James City County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, receive free admission with proof of residency.
$15.00 for adults, and $7.50 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 receive complimentary admission. For more information on Yorktown Victory Celebration or events at Yorktown, visit the Yorktown website. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll free or (757) 253-4838, or visit www.historyisfun.org.
Yorktown Battlefield – Oct. 19 & 20
Open houses of historic Yorktown homes in commemoration of the defeat of Lord Cornwallis to the combined forces of Generals Washington and Rochambeau.
Tour the Moore House, where surrender negotiations took place.
Tour the Nelson House, home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Programs begin at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center, located at 1000 Colonial Parkway, 12 miles from Williamsburg. Open 9am-5pm. $10 per person, 15 and under free. For more information, including times for programs and demonstrations, call (757) 898-2410 or visit www.nps.gov/colo.
Watermen’s Museum – Maritime Heritage Celebration – Oct. 19 & 20
Two days of family fun with re-enactors, sea shanties and maritime music, displays, vendors, maritime crafts, boat building, and more. Free.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday: 12 to 5 p.m