This year marks the 240th anniversary of the Battle at Yorktown—the military victory that essentially paved the way for American independence. As a result, October 19 is now a very significant “On this Day in History” for area museums, businesses, and organizations. While the annual Yorktown Day Parade and public commemorative ceremony are cancelled this year in response to COVID-19, a variety of programs are still taking place. Below is a brief look at all there is to do this weekend!
Yorktown Victory Celebration
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
October 16 – 19
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Stories of citizens and soldiers of the American Revolution unfold daily at the Museum through immersive films, exhibition galleries, and outdoor re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm. During this special weekend, visitors can enjoy musical performances and take part in interpretive demonstrations, including cooking, fabric dyeing, and artillery.
Daily Artillery Demonstrations
10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:45 p.m.
Fifes and Drums of York Town Perform
12 and 1:30 p.m. | Continental Army Encampment
Old Cigar Box String Band’s “Great American Sing-Along”
11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3:15 p.m. | Education Center
On October 19, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will offer free admission to active duty, reserve, and retired military personnel and up to three direct family members with military identification.
Victory at Yorktown Weekend
Watermen’s Museum & Main Street
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Living history, naval battles, cannon demonstrations, Irish dance, maritime and folk music, arts and crafts, vendors, children’s activities, and other free fun-filled family activities in honor of the 240th anniversary of America’s momentous victory at Yorktown.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
An Outdoor Ranger Information Station will be available at the site of the climactic 1781 siege. Download the free mobile app for self-guided tours. And be sure to follow Colonial National Historical Park on Facebook for posts and programs related to Yorktown Day. Wreath-laying ceremonies on Tuesday, October 19, will honor British and Canadian forces. A private ceremony honoring the British will take place at 3 p.m. in the Garden at the Nelson House near the plaque honoring Lt. General Charles, Earl Cornwallis, followed by a 4 p.m. ceremony (limited capacity) honoring the Canadian Queen’s Rangers near the commemorative plaque along the York River waterfront.
FREE Public Lecture & Book Signing: The Yorktown Victory Monument
During a FREE event at York Hall, local Author Maria Hepner will discuss the history of the Monument. It took more than a century between the time Continental Congress authorized the landmark and when work actually began on it here in Yorktown. But, why? The answer is a strange entanglement of the government, military, artists, historians… and even Mother Nature, herself. Ms. Hepner’s ties to York County go back 14 generations. You don’t want to miss this uniquely qualified storyteller’s presentation. Her book will be for sale following the lecture. Please don’t forget to bring face masks to this indoor event. Presented by the York County Historical Committee and York County Historical Museum.
Rochambeau Statue Unveiling
In another nod to the Franco-American alliance that led to victory during the Revolutionary War, York County will unveil a statue of Rochambeau. The public is invited to witness this dramatic addition to the waterfront honoring the four great leaders of the Yorktown campaign: Lafayette, Washington, Grasse and now Rochambeau. Various individual donors and organizations contributed to and raised money for this historic project. Learn more here.
Ticketed Historic Walking Tours
Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters
October 16, 17, and 19
Explore the beginning of the Yorktown Campaign all the way up to the final week of the siege during these exclusive tours taking place October 16, 17, and 19. They include visits to Yorktown Battlefield and Surrender Field. Click here to learn more and to purchase tickets ahead of your visit.
Yorktown Art Exhibit Featuring Historian Chris Bonin
Gallery at York Hall
October 16 - 19
This featured exhibit in the lobby of the Gallery is entitled "Yorktown Art" and features key players of the Revolutionary War. It showcases the work of Historian Chris Bonin, and the details in his sketches are incredible. Bonin's work will be prominently displayed through the end of the month. Be sure to stop by and see it in person!
Yorktown Day Exhibit
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Stop by the Freight Shed for two special exhibits entitled “Lafayette and the Revolution” and “Queen’s Rangers Virginia Campaign 1781.” These displays are free and open to the public.
Revolutionary War Authors – Book Signings
Gallery at York Hall
2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Alan Hoffman: Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825
Libby McNamee: Dolley Madison and the War of 1812
Susanna’s Midnight Ride: The Girl Who Won the Revolutionary War
Jenny L. Cote: The Voice, the Revolution & the Key
The Declaration, The Sword, and the Spy
Transportation & Parking
Don’t forget the FREE Yorktown Trolley will be running to take you to various Yorktown attractions between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. Passengers are reminded that face masks are still required on all public transportation. There are several public parking lots throughout town including the two-level parking terrace on Water Street and the lot behind York Hall. Here’s a map to show all of the other locations.