Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Yorktown Events: October 19-21, 2018

The 237th anniversary of America’s decisive Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown will be marked on Yorktown Day, Friday, October 19, at Yorktown Battlefield, administered by Colonial National Historical Park, an annual event that will feature a patriotic Yorktown Day Parade and Commemorative Ceremony at the Monument to Victory and Alliance, also known as the Yorktown Victory Monument. 

The Yorktown Day events are a prelude to weekend programs on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, 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 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.

Colonial National Historical Park Annual Commemorative Event

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. Today, 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.

In addition to morning wreath-laying ceremonies, the official Yorktown Day Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. 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.

Patriotic exercises will commence at the Monument to Alliance and Victory at 11:15 a.m. with the 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.  

The Old Guard Fifes & Drums Corps will perform at 1:00 p.m. at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center, and Revolutionary War guided tours by Living History Associates will be offered at 1:45 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

On October 19, admission to Yorktown Battlefield will be free as part of the Yorktown Day celebration. For more information, call (757) 898-2410 or visit


The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will offer a public lecture at 3 p.m. Friday, October 19, by historian and author Ray Raphael. In “How to Listen and Win Wars,” Raphael will explore General George Washington’s willingness to consult colleagues on military decisions. A book signing will follow the lecture.

During its annual “Yorktown Victory Celebration” event on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, 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.

Visitors can take in the ongoing “Blast from the Past: Artillery in the War of Independence” special exhibition that examines the American, French and British artillery used during the Siege of Yorktown. In conjunction with the weekend celebration, the William & Mary Symphony Orchestra will perform 12 musical compositions in salute to the military, culminating with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” accompanied by the sounds of artillery. The symphony performance will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 21.

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. Special events are included with museum admission: $15.00 for adults, $7.50 for ages 6-12, and free for children under 6. Residents of York County, James City County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, receive complimentary admission with proof of residency. “Yorktown Victory Celebration” activities are presented in part by the York County Arts Commission. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll free or (757) 253-4838, or visit


 The Colonial National Historical Park at Yorktown Battlefield, site of the climactic 1781 siege, will offer open houses of historic Yorktown homes on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, in commemoration of the defeat of Lord Cornwallis to the combined forces of Generals Washington and Rochambeau.

The Nelson House, home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, will be open 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The Moore House, where surrender negotiations took place, will be open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. 

Programs begin at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center, located at 1000 Colonial Parkway at the eastern end of the Colonial Parkway, 12 miles from Williamsburg. For more information, including times for programs and demonstrations, call (757) 898-2410 or visit


 Visitors can ride the free Yorktown Trolley all weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with convenient drop-offs at several attractions throughout Yorktown, including the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Another stop on the route is The Gallery at York Hall which will be featuring the work of historian Chris Bonin the entire month of October. On October 19, from 12:30 to 3 p.m., Jenny L. Cote and Alan R. Hoffman will be doing book signings of “The Voice of Revolution & the Key” and “Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825.”

 Riverwalk Landing will be filled with exciting attractions and entertainment for this momentous local anniversary. Enjoy Yorktown’s waterfront farmers market Saturday, October 20, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Then, bundle up and set sail on the York River when you book a ticket on the Schooners Alliance or Serenity, which depart daily at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. from the Riverwalk Landing piers. Water Street Grille and Yorktown Pub will offer live music Friday and Saturday evenings, and Riverwalk Restaurant will serve its Sunday brunch buffet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more about Yorktown’s special events at or call (757) 890-3500.

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