When the wind returns to the Mayflower II’s sails in Connecticut next spring, the replica of the famed Pilgrim vessel will set its course for Massachusetts, but Plymouth won’t be the first stop.
The ship is slated to sail into Boston Harbor aside the USS Constitution, a never-before-seen sight, as it docks in the Charlestown Navy Yard for a fanfare-filled maritime festival — a six-day event in May honoring the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s historic journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
“Can you imagine the nation’s two most historic, iconic ships sailing together for the first time?” Stephen Brodeur, chairman and founding sponsor of Mayflower Sails 2020, said while announcing the plans at a press conference Monday. “It’s going to be spectacular.”
While the original Mayflower was lost in time following its 1620 voyage to the New World, the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction, was gifted to the United States from England in the 1950s to commemorate the friendship of the two countries after World War II.
The vessel is expected to sail into Boston and be on display from May 14 through 19, 2020, according to Mayflower Sails 2020, the group behind next year’s festival. Educational programs centered around the visit will tell the story of the ship, its passengers, and the complex relationship between the Pilgrims and Native Americans after the arrival of the European settlers, they said.
“This stuff really matters,” Gov. Charlie Baker said at Monday’s event. “And sometimes it takes a big moment like this, a seminal event, to bring everybody together to give it the kind of attention it’s due.”
Although specific details have not yet been announced, organizers said the maritime festival will include:
- Live music, including at a “Rock the Dock” concert
- VIP speakers
- Tours of Mayflower II
- Food trucks and a beer garden
- Educational opportunities for nonprofits and schools
The six-day event will be free for the public, but tickets will be required. Tickets will become available early next year through the Mayflower Sails 2020 website.
“We like to say New York may have the Statue of Liberty, but Massachusetts invented everything, and we have the Mayflower to remind everybody that it started here,” Brodeur said.