Patriots' Day commemorates the April anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord, the first clashes of the American Revolutionary War. It is a Massachusetts state holiday, officially observed on the third Monday in April, and is celebrated with parades and ceremonies from Boston to Roxbury, and all along the Battle Road.
Thousands of members of local minute men companies, militias, and historical societies participate in reenactments in Boston, Minute Man National Historical Park, Concord's Old North Bridge, Lexington's Battle Green, and other historic sites in the Boston area.
We’ve rounded up some of the key reenactments, parades, and special events for Patriots' Day, as well as special events at local museums, historical houses and Minute Man National Park. Note: most of the events listed are FREE but also very popular, so plan to arrive early and expect crowds. (If you're interested in more happenings or places to eat while in Concord, check out our 20-plus things to do in Concord post.)
Meriam's Corner Exercise
Meriam's Corner, Concord
The Town of Concord, joined by area minute companies, fife and drum units, and the Concord Independent Battery, pay remembrance to the fight at Meriam's Corner that marked the beginning of the six-hour running battle back to Boston. Tour the Meriam House from 11 am-2 pm. FREE
Paul Revere Capture Ceremony
Minute Man National Historic Park Paul Revere Capture Site, Lincoln
The Lincoln Minute Men and the Town of Lincoln, joined by other reenactment units, observe the historic capture of Paul Revere with fife and drum music and a musket fire salute. FREE
Junior Ranger Day at Minute Man National Historical Park
Minute Man Visitor Center, Route 2A, Lexington
Kids can have fun exploring Minute Man National Historical Park with a Junior Ranger Day Booklet to guide them. At the end of the day, they can show their work to a Ranger to earn a new badge. FREE
Visit Whittemore House
Behind Minute Man Visitor Center, Route 2A, Lexington
Families can visit Whittemore House, staffed by costumed park volunteers, and discover what life was like in 1775. Try on colonial children's clothing, gather ingredients for a meal, and listen to stories of the Whittemore family and their experience of April 19, 1775. FREE
Parker's Revenge Battle Demonstration
Parker's Revenge Site - near Minute Man Visitor Center, Route 2A, Lexington
Hundreds of British and Colonial reenactors engage in a tactical weapons demonstration showing the running battle that took place along this deadly stretch of road on the border of Lincoln and Lexington. This event involves musket firing and fast-paced battle action. This event takes place on the Battle Road Trail behind the Minute Man Visitor Center, and ample parking is available at Minuteman Regional High School. FREE
Annual Lantern Ceremony
Old North Church - Boston
One If by land, Two if by sea. The enduring fame of the Old North began on the evening of April 18, 1775, when the church sexton, Robert Newman, climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea and not by land. This fateful event ignited the American Revolution. $40. Register in advance; space is limited.
Paul Revere and William Dawes Midnight Ride Re-enactment
Hancock-Clarke House - Lexington
Paul Revere’s famous Midnight Ride, as recounted in the not so accurate poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, started in Charlestown with the purpose of alerting John Hancock and Samuel Adams about the departure of the British Regulars from Boston headed West.
The Lexington Historical Society along with the Lexington Minute Men and the National Lancers re-create Paul Revere's arrival with William Dawes at midnight at the Hancock- Clarke House, complete with the drama of the reactions of the occupants of the house.
The Town of Lexington celebrates the start of the American Revolution with a battle reenactment of the early-morning engagement between the town's militia and the British regulars. The observance starts with the ringing of the bell calling all Minute Men to the Lexington Green to defend Lexington from the approaching Redcoats. Arrive early to get a good location for viewing the battle.
Sunrise Youth Parade
Massachusetts Avenue - Lexington
A special parade for a variety of youth organizations such as Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little League Teams, Youth Soccer, School Bands, etc. The Parade starts at the Munroe Cemetery Driveway and proceeds through Lexington Center and onto the Green. FREE
Patriots' Day Celebrations
John Eliot Square, UUM Church - Roxbury
Join the Roxbury Collaborative in celebrating Boston's role in freeing the American colonies from British occupation. Roxbury notables past and present are celebrated at the annual re-enactment of the William Dawes Ride. The event includes a breakfast, historic speeches, and the National Lancers re-enactment ride. FREE
Patriots’ Day Fun
Concord Museum, Concord
Stop by the Museum to take part in patriotic crafts for families, try on colonial clothing, and and hear gallery talks by museum staff. Explore the Museum's outstanding collection of treasures from April, 1775 including the famous "one, if by land, two, if by sea" Revere lantern. Included with admission
Concord Patriots' Day Parade (9am)
The Concord Patriots' Day Parade begins in Concord Center and arrives at the North Bridge around 9:30am, stopping for ceremonies with music and musket and cannon salutes, before returning through town. NOTE: All of the roads in the center of town are closed to vehicles beginning at 8:30am. FREE
Patriots' Day Weekend at the Old Manse
The Old Manse - Concord
Families can tour the home of Concord’s Patriot Minister, Reverend William Emerson, chaplain to the Minutemen who fought at the Old North Bridge on April 19, 1775. Included with admission
Paul Revere and William Dawes Rides Re-enactments
Boston & Roxbury
Paul Revere arrives at Hanover Street in Boston, and William Dawes arrives at Eliot Square in Roxbury. Both riders depart at the same time, warning the people while on their way to the Lexington Green. FREE
Lexington Afternoon Parade
Mass Ave - Lexington
The afternoon parade starts at Massachusetts Avenue and Maple Street in East Lexington, proceeds west along Massachusetts Avenue through Lexington Center, left onto Worthen Road ending at the Town Pool Parking Lot. FREE
North Bridge - Concord
The Concord Minute Men and the Concord Independent Battery observe the openning battle of the American Revolution in a 21 gun musket and cannon salute. FREE
Arrival of the Sudbury Militia
North Bridge, Concord
The Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute Men arrive at the North Bridge (pictured) after making their annual march from the town of Sudbury. They fire three musket salutes from the North Bridge. FREE
Kids' Reenactment of the Battle of Lexington
Buckman Tavern - Lexington
Participants are trained by members of the Lexington Minute Men or His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot prior to re-enacting the Battle of Lexington.
Battle Road Heroes
Hartwell Tavern - Route 2A, Lincoln
You’ve watched the battle reenactments and the parades. Now you are invited to walk down a candle-lit path to the past. Listen to the personal stories of people who lived along the Battle Road on April 19, 1775. Join Captain William Smith, the Lincoln Minute Men, the Hartwells, drovers, musicians, and His Majesty’s soldiers for this special evening of theater and history. Recommended for ages 8 and up.
Photo: Arrival of the Sudbury Militia 2015
Post originally published April 2013 and updated April 2014, March 2015, April 2016, and March 2017