If you’re a U.S. history buff, springtime in Boston means war, or at least the start of it. The third Monday in April is Patriot’s Day, which caps a full weekend of events and reenactments celebrating the beginning of America’s fight for independence from the British. You can put yourself near all the action and witness major turning points in the birth of our nation at Newbury Guest House. Immerse yourself in our authentic historic brownstone setting and enjoy the comforts and amenities of our boutique hotel, minus the musket fire and bloodshed.
Historic societies, civic groups, parks, and citizens throughout Boston, Lexington, Lincoln, Arlington, Bedford, and Concord keep the American Revolution alive and honor those who fought for liberty more than two centuries ago. More than 50 (mostly free) events every year depict not only major and minor battles, Paul Revere’s famous ride and marches of local militias, but everyday 18th century Colonial life. Some of the biggest events take place in Boston and Lexington, and going between the two is an easy 30-minute hop on the T (take the red line). This year’s Patriot’s Day weekend is April 15 – 17. Here’s just a few of the highlights:
Parker’s Revenge Battle Reenactment: Lexington, April 15
This 8:30 a.m. reenactment depicts the April 19, 1775 skirmish that occurred after the Battle of Lexington and involves hundreds of costumed reenactors, musket firing, horses, and fierce battle action. After the battle of Lexington Green, in which members of the Lexington militia were killed by British soldiers, several hundred British troops were sighted half a mile away. Lexington militia captain John Parker debated whether to have his Lexington militia stay hidden in hopes the British would pass peacefully by or stand their ground. He chose the latter, marching up Massachusetts Avenue to what is now Minuteman National Historical Park, where they fired on the British column. By battle standards it was a skirmish; its significance lay in its signaling of the colonists’ resolve.
Hartwell Tavern and Captain William Smith House: Lexington, April 15-16
Stick around after Parker’s Revenge, as Minute Man National Historical Park hosts events throughout Patriot’s Day weekend, including “Caught in the Storm of War: The Civilian Experience." Go back in time for a very real glimpse of how Massachusetts patriots and civilians spent their time at the start of the American Revolution. This reenactment focuses on the civilian evacuation of both venues (which date to before 1775). You’ll spot costumed actors on the 1.5-mile walk from these sites and arriving at the park just before the reenactment of Parkers’ Revenge.
Patriot Fife and Drum at Paul Revere House: Boston, April 15
Visit Paul Revere’s residence on Boston’s North End waterfront for a stirring concert of the music colonists danced, dated, marched and waged war to, as musicians share the history and meaning behind each piece. At select times, the audience can visit with actors portraying Paul Revere and his wife Rachel Walker asking them about his famous ride, their 11 children and what life was like for women during the Revolutionary War.
Munroe Tavern and Tower Park Battle Demonstrations: Lexington, April 15
Actors portraying the Lexington and Acton Minutemen and the British Tenth Regiment of Foot (which was part of the expeditionary force sent by the British to seize weapons being stockpiled by the American militia) demonstrate battle techniques, strategies, and weapons including a working Revolutionary-Era replica cannon.
War Preparations at Barrett’s Farm: Concord, April 16
Get a hands-on experience of how the colonists prepared for war at this historic site critical to the 1775 battles of Lexington and Concord. Colonel James Barrett’s farm was the storage location for the Concord revolutionaries’ weapons, gunpowder, and bronze cannons. Witness the tense preparations as Colonel Barrett acts to guard their cache as the Redcoats advance to search his house, and join the reenactment by practicing military exercises and helping to make and hide artillery charges and other supplies.
Lantern Lighting Service at Old North Church: Boston, April 16
This North End ceremony commemorates the hanging of two lanterns in the Old North Church belfry to signal the route of the Redcoats’ march to Concord to patriot leaders stationed across the Charles River. Lancer Troops reenactors playing Revere and fellow rider William Dawes arrive at the church for the lighting and then continue on their midnight journey. The reenactment features a recitation of Longfellow's famous poem “Paul Revere's Ride”, a reading of Revere's own account of the ride, a Color Guard from the USS Constitution, and fife and drum music.
“First Shot! The Day the Revolution Began”: Lexington, April 17
This award-winning film about the official start of the American Revolution takes a deep dive into what really happened on the Battle Green that day and examines in detail how we came to reach the point of war with the British. Screenings throughout the day are followed by an audience Q&A with battle reenactors.
Patriots Day Parade: Boston, April 17
It’s hard not to be proud of our forefathers’ fight for independence at this somber and inspiring event built around Paul Revere's ride and taking place in the most historic parts of town. It begins with a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall Plaza in Boston’s North End, then proceeds to King's Chapel Burying Ground for a wreath-laying at the tomb of Major William Dawes (Revere’s co-rider and member of the Massachusetts Militia Artillery Company), then continues to Granary Burying Ground to place a wreath at the grave of Paul Revere. The parade then moves on to Paul Revere Mall ("The Prado") to begin the reenactment of their ride through Boston to Lexington.
We now interrupt history for a brief Patriot’s Day PSA…
If you plan to visit for the holiday, we recommend booking your hotel early – there’s a reason this date is also known as Marathon Monday. As if the parade and reenactments weren’t excitement enough, it’s also the day of the Boston Marathon, which starts before 8:00 a.m. in the town of Hopkins (just south of Boston) and finishes across from the Boston Public Library and Old South Church in Copely Square, under 10 minutes by foot from Newbury Guest House. And Patriot’s Day will also see the Red Sox play the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park, another short walk from our hotel.
Not in town for Patriot’s Day? You can live history at two other major Boston reenactments:
Boston Tea Party: Boston, December 16
This year’s reenactment is especially significant, marking the 250th anniversary of one of the most famous events in our nation’s history. The Sons of Liberty (cheered by Bostonians) dumped 300 crates of East India Company tea into the harbor to protest British taxation and tyranny under King George III. Called “the most magnificent movement of all” by John Adams, the Tea Party was a major factor in starting America on the path to revolution. The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is making the most of the anniversary, working with organizations, communities, and businesses throughout Boston for reenactments and commemorative programming and events throughout the year.
Boston Massacre Reenactment: Boston, March 5
If you’re already planning your reenactment calendar for next year, make sure you’re in front of the Old State House on March 5th – the site of the Boston Massacre. What began as a street brawl became another pivotal event in the course of American independence. A group of colonists began pelting a troop of increasingly unwelcome British troops to protest their presence in town. The British soldiers fired on the colonists, killing five and wounding eight others. The colonists demanded they be put on trial, and that British troops be evacuated from Boston. Before the reenactment, visitors hear from actors portraying loyalists, patriots and moderates and are invited to determine for themselves if the soldiers fired into the crowd in self-defense or cold-blooded murder. Tip: if you can’t make the reenactment, the Old State House hosts educational Massacre Memory walking tours on a regular basis.
If you love being close to the action, you can’t beat Boston for bringing history to life. And you’ll be just close enough to all of it when you book with Newbury Guest House. In fact, we think once you’ve experienced our historic boutique hotel, you’ll want to reenact your stay again and again.