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Events Mark 400 Years of History

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The first permanent English settlement in the Americas was founded 400 years ago, and to celebrate, the region is throwing a months-long bash. A number of signature events have been planned in the area, but some smaller communities are also getting into the party spirit. Here are some of the top activities:

* Journey Up the James: A replica of the Godspeed -- one of the three ships that carried Jamestown's founders -- will (loosely) trace the route the original vessel took while scouring the shores for a good place to settle. At press time, the ship planned to dock at Hampton (until tomorrow), Newport News (May 4-5), Claremont and Surry counties (May 6), Jamestown (May 11-13), Henricus (May 19-22) and Richmond (May 24-26). Each port town will host special festivities to correspond with the ship's arrival. Newport News, for example, will have tours of the Godspeed, an evening concert with fireworks and a Native American dance troupe. See http://www.americas400thanniversary.com/se-riversail.cfmfor up-to-date information.

* America's Anniversary Weekend: Jamestown gets rocking -- and symphonic -- with three days (May 11-13) of entertainment and five stages of music. Performers include the Virginia and Richmond symphony orchestras (combined and solo), Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, and a 400-piece orchestra and 1,607-voice choir. Besides music, Jamestown Settlement, Historic Jamestown and Anniversary Park will offer Indian and African exhibits, an artisan village with craft demos, cannon shots and more. One-day tickets cost $30 and can be purchased at 866-400-1607, http://www.americas400thanniversary.com.

* Virginia Indian Heritage Events: On July 21-22, Hampton welcomes the American Indian Intertribal Cultural Festival, which will highlight the cultures and contributions of Native Americans from Virginia and beyond. The event includes native dishes, dances, traditional stories, art and exhibits.

* "World of 1607": The show, which opened this month in Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg and runs until next April, puts the settlement in a wider context: the world. The exhibit covers cultures far and farther away -- Powhatan Indians, Russia, China, Benin -- and will change quarterly, so no two visits are the same.

* Virginia 2007 Community Project: Up to 100 communities throughout Virginia are organizing special exhibits and events in Jamestown's honor. For example, until Nov. 25, visitors can experience the challenges of colonist life in a "survivor" maze at Newport News's Virginia Living Museum. The museum also recently dedicated its Virginia Garden, which focuses on the state's botanical history from 1607 to the present. Info: 757-595-1900, http://www.thevlm.org; $13. Colonial Beach's June 8-17 event includes a firefighters' parade, a replica of Capt. John Smith's shallop (the small open boat in which he explored Chesapeake Bay), concerts and more. Info: 804-224-8145, http://www.colonialbeach.org.

For more information on all events: Jamestown 2007, http://www.americas400thanniversary.com. For tickets: 866-400-1607.

-- Andrea Sachs

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