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Mayflower 400 programme sets sail

A year-long four-nation commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, involving the UK, USA, Netherlands and Wampanoag nations, is underway.


The year of commemorative events and exhibitions, centred around the destinations linked to the Mayflower story, marks the 400th anniversary of the 1620 journey undertaken by 102 passengers and crew to the ‘new world’ of America.

Exploring the journey and impact of one of history’s most famous ships, events include a world class public art and cultural programme in England; projects developed in collaboration with Wampanoag and wider Native American tribes; commemorations in 13 partner destinations across the UK where Mayflower history was written, including Gainsborough and Boston in Lincolnshire as well as London and Plymouth; and international events in the USA and the Netherlands.

mayflowersteps_jpg-257700-low_-_Copy.jpgMayflower Steps in Plymouth, marking where the Mayflower set sail for America

To mark the day the ship set sail, a major four-nation public ceremony will take place in Plymouth, England, on September 16, 2020.

The Mayflower 400 programme has been informed by the four key Mayflower values: freedom, humanity, imagination and future, and the majority of events will be free for people to attend and enjoy.

The commemorations will reflect all aspects of the Mayflower story, and central to the programme will be the collaboration with the Wampanoag nation, who have inhabited present day Massachusetts and Eastern Rhode Island for more than 12,000 years. From aiding the survival of those who made the journey 400 years ago, to understanding the impact of colonisation on the Native American people, their involvement in the Mayflower narrative is critical.

bayardscovedartmouthlandscape7_jpg-257695-low_-_Copy.jpgBayard’s Cove in Dartmouth, where the Mayflower moored on its journey to Plymouth

Members of the Wampanoag Advisory Committee have been involved in developing the Mayflower 400 programme and, through events and exhibitions, they will tell the story of the arrival of the Mayflower passengers in their own words.

Adrian Vinken OBE, Chair of Mayflower 400, said: “The Mayflower 400 year will see this historic world-changing voyage commemorated at an appropriately international level. As well as simply marking the voyage of the Mayflower and her passengers, the year will also reflect the impact the resulting colonisation had on the Wampanoag Nation through a wide range of exhibitions and theatrical productions throughout 2020.

"It’s been particularly rewarding to work with our Wampanoag, American and Dutch colleagues in the co-creation of many key Mayflower 400 activities, ensuring that 2020 is a genuine four-nations commemoration.”

guildhalllandscape_jpg-263927-low_-_Copy.jpgBoston Guildhall, where the Pilgrim Fathers were held and put on trial

Highlights from the Mayflower 400 programme include:

Some Call it Home, composed by Jonathan Dawe (NYC) and Jane O’Leary (a direct descendant of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren) and taking place at Theatre Royal Plymouth. A moving and thought-provoking music, vocal and visual experience revealing how human destiny has been shaped from 1620 to the present day by our relationship with planet Earth. (24 and 25 March 2020)

Mayflower 400: Legend & Legacy, a flagship exhibition at The Box, Plymouth’s new multi-million pound cultural and heritage centre, which is set to open in spring 2020. Curated in partnership with the Wampanoag Native American Advisory Committee, and with the help of more than 100 museums, libraries and archives from across the UK, the US and the Netherlands, this exhibition will present an epic journey of survival and imagination, told through objects, images and ideas from both sides of the Atlantic. (Spring 2020 to Autumn 2021)

This Land, a major new work of international community theatre that wrestles with the history surrounding the voyage of the Mayflower and the impact of its arrival on the shores of Massachusetts. Performed and created by citizens of Plymouth UK and members of the Wampanoag Tribe from Massachusetts, USA. (16 to 20 June 2020)

Illuminate 2020, a multi-city light festival taking place across the UK in Mayflower 400 partner destinations, featuring new light art commissions and an original choral commission in response to the Mayflower values. (November 2020)

mayflower-400_lights_010_-_Copy.jpgIlluminate 2019 launched the Mayflower 400 commemorations

Janet Redler, Chief Executive of Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, said: “We are eagerly anticipating the year-long programme to commemorate the voyage of the Mayflower, perhaps one of the most significant journeys in human history.

“The scale of events and exhibitions taking place both in the UK and internationally reflects the importance of this historic anniversary and the programme will provide new insights into the impact that the Mayflower had on people in England, the USA and the Netherlands.”

To find out more, visit https://www.mayflower400uk.org/events/.

If you or your group would like to follow in the footsteps of the Pilgrim Fathers, and to retrace the journey of the Mayflower, please do contact our friendly team today and we will put together the ideal tailor-made tour for you. 

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