Massachusetts is inviting the world to visit the Bay State in 2020 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony, two historic events that helped shape the United States of America.
The state’s Plymouth 400 Commission has created a series of signature events to explore the historical significance of the English Pilgrims who landed in Plymouth in 1620, and their early interactions with the Native American Wampanoag people already living here. The events will show case Massachusetts’ vibrant culture, cuisine, history and natural beauty.
“Massachusetts has been inspiring travelers for four centuries,” said MOTT Executive Director Keiko Matsudo Orrall. “In 2020, we welcome the occasion to highlight Massachusetts at its best, from the shores of Cape Cod to the hills of Aquinnah Cliffs in Martha’s Vineyard, from Plymouth Bay and Boston Harbor to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. We invite visitors from all over the world to Massachusetts, where America as we know it was founded.”
Among the activities planned in 2020: an official sailing of the Mayflower to Boston, Provincetown and Plymouth; a maritime festival hosted by Mayflower Sails 2020 in Boston Harbor alongside the USS Constitution and Mayflower; the Wampanoag Ancestors Walk; and activities centered around the Thanksgiving holiday in November 2020, according to Plymouth 400 Commission Executive Director Dusty Rhodes.
“The Pilgrims brought with them a spirit of democracy, in which everyone had a voice and a vote,” said Rhodes. “The Mayflower Compact, which the Pilgrims signed off the coast of Cape Cod, was a forerunner of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Massachusetts’ story is America’s story.”
Executive Director Ellie Donovan of Plimoth Plantation, which just completed a three-year, $11.2 million restoration of the historic wooden sailing ship Mayflower, said, “The restoration of this national treasure is an incredibly exciting and significant milestone. We look forward to celebrating her return home to Massachusetts and welcoming visitors on board in 2020 and beyond.”
An exhibit entitled “Our” Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History, is travelling around Massachusetts and New England in 2020. The moving exhibit is on display around New England throughout 2020.
Jim Peters, executive director of the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs and a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, said the “Our” Story exhibit “is an important reflection on our shared history. It offers an appropriate opportunity to assess our past and present and to envision what we are leaving for our future generations.”
The Plymouth 400 commemoration has an international dimension. In addition to the United States and Wampanoag Nation, the United Kingdom and The Netherlands are also participating by sending official delegations to Massachusetts.
See Plymouth Executive Director Lea Filson described Plymouth as “America’s Hometown, and the rock upon which America was built 400 years ago. To feel and experience the authentic place where the Mayflower Pilgrims settled, visit Plymouth, where history, culture, great restaurants and a scenic New England town will welcome you.”
2020 SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
April 24, 2020
Plymouth 400 Commemoration Opening Ceremony
The Opening Ceremony of the Plymouth 400 Commemoration is a two-hour event of historical content, musical headliners, interpretive readings, choreographed movement, original productions, and visual narratives to create a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. The Plymouth 400 Legacy Time Capsule will include items placed inside by special guests.
May 14 – 19, 2020
Mayflower Sails 2020
Plimoth Plantation’s ship, Mayflower, a historic reproduction of the famous ship that sailed from England to Massachusetts in 1620, is the centerpiece of a free, six-day maritime festival at the Charlestown Navy Yard. The Mayflower will make its debut by sailing into Boston Harbor alongside the USS Constitution.
May 26, 2020
Mayflower Returns to Plymouth
Following a three-year restoration, Plimoth Plantation’s Mayflower will make her triumphant return home to historic Plymouth Harbor on May 21, 2020. People will line the shores of Pilgrim Memorial State Park to welcome the ship and her crew home. Mayflower opens to the public on May 23. Tickets to board the ship are on sale now. Free, fun programming throughout the weekend is part of the homecoming festival!
June 27-29, 2020
Official Maritime Salute – Tall Ships
The Official Maritime Salute pays tribute to the Pilgrims’ journey on board the Mayflower from Plymouth, England, to the site of Plymouth Colony in the new world. A regatta of wooden ships, yachts, workboats, official vessels, and pleasure craft will culminate in a traditional New England lobster dinner on the waterfront.
August 1, 2020
Wampanoag Ancestors Walk
The Wampanoag Ancestors Walk is organized by the Wampanoag tribes of Massachusetts, representing the names of the original 69 villages of the Wampanoag Nation.
September 10-14, 2020
Mayflower Visits Provincetown
During the visit to Provincetown, there will be daily historical reenactments of the signing of the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor in 1620. The final event is a Sunrise Toast and Bon Voyage to the Mayflower as she journeys to her home in Plymouth.
September 14, 2020
Official State House Salute to the 400th Anniversary
This State House Ceremony honors the Pilgrim fore fathers and Native people immortalized in the historic founding of Plymouth Colony. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Pilgrim families, and Wampanoag families are attending.
September 19-20, 2020
The Embarkation Festival is a grand cultural and arts festival to honor the traditions, cuisine, and music of Pilgrim settlers and Wampanoag people, as well as the diverse population of immigrants who have become the fabric of American life.
October 29 – November 1, 2020
Indigenous History Conference and Powwow
This Indigenous People Conference addresses the legacy of colonization experienced by Wampanoag and other Native people in the (now) New England area. The Conference closes with a traditional Powwow to which all are welcome to attend.
Illuminate Thanksgiving 2020
These youth-oriented events create an inspirational atmosphere for people to gather, to express gratitude and giving in communities, groups, and families.