Update: Organizers of “Mayflower Sails 2020” announced March 16 the event is postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Those who have reserved free tickets to the event are asked to hold onto them. Updates will be available via email and at MayflowerSails2020.com.
“In the coming weeks, Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower Sails 2020 will release details of Mayflower II’s movements,” organizers said in a statement. “Currently the ship is slated to arrive home to Plymouth Harbor on May 21, 2020. Visit www.plimoth.org for updates as they become available.”
When the wind returns to the Mayflower II’s sails in Connecticut this 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 in July. “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 ship — an exhibit at Plimoth Plantation — recently underwent a three-year, $11.2 million restoration project in Mystic, Connecticut, ahead of this year’s anniversary. The vessel was re-christened and launched in September.
The Mayflower II 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 on 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 an event announcing the festival in July. “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 more details are still to come, organizers said the maritime festival will include:
- Live music, including at a “Rock the Dock” concert, featuring a series of seven acts
- VIP speakers
- Tours of Mayflower II
- Food trucks and a beer garden
- Educational opportunities for nonprofits and schools
- Historical, cultural, and educational activities on 17th century life
- Tours of the USS Constitution and USS Cassin Young
The six-day event will be free for the public, but tickets will be required to tour Mayflower II. Tickets became available Wednesday on MayflowerSails2020.com.
Living history educators form Plimoth Plantation will “offer a glimpse into life aboard the ship, as well as provide engaging dockside programming on the inspiring stories of the indigenous communities and English colonists who created a new society together – sometimes in collaboration, sometimes in conflict – in historic Patuxet, the Wampanoag homeland now known as Plymouth,” according to a press release.
Organizers are also hosting a contest through Feb. 27 for one person and a guest to “win a once-in-a-lifetime VIP sail” on Mayflower II in Boston Harbor during the event. Details are also on the website.
Additionally, a ticketed, dockside gala will be held on May 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. to support the completion of the ship’s restoration, organizers said in a press release Wednesday. Further details will be released in the coming weeks, but those seeking more information can also email email@example.com.
“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.