Can you believe it? St. Augustine is celebrating its 450th anniversary this year. Talk about a ton of birthday candles! And since you only turn 450 once, it’s safe to say that this birthday bash is going to be one heck of a celebration.
From September 4–8, 2015, various locations throughout downtown St. Augustine will play host to a variety of exciting things to see and do—from art exhibits and cultural activities to historical re-enactments, music festivals and more. And to make things even better, admission is completely free to all city-organized events—so you definitely don’t want to miss out!
The Nation’s Oldest European-Settled City
Despite what many think and what you may celebrate during Thanksgiving, it’s really St. Augustine that owns the bragging rights as the nation’s oldest European-settled city. The charming Florida city was founded in 1565—that’s 42 years before Jamestown and 55 years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock—and was the true beginning to our multicultural society.
CELEBRATE 450! Events & Activities
Free concerts: More than 80 national, regional and local musicians and entertainers will perform on the waterfront, including performances by Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and many more.
Traditional performances: To highlight the city’s Spanish heritage, local cultural organizations will perform Spanish music and dance numbers, as well as other family-friendly activities and living history vignettes at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.
Special events: A giant cake-cutting ceremony and proclamation presentation will be in front of the Lightner Museum on September 7; special exhibits will be on display at the St. Augustine Visitors Information Center daily; and interactive displays and artifacts will be featured at the Government House Museum.
Time capsule: An “archival” time capsule will be created to store letters, pictures, drawings, etc. for 50 years until the 500th Commemoration in 2065. Anyone can participate!
Historical re-enactments: Four hundred and fifty years ago, on September 8th, 1565, Admiral Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles stepped ashore on Matanzas Bay and founded St. Augustine, Florida. Join Mission Nombre de Dios as they present the historical re-enactment of Menendez’ landing, on the original landing site. Afterwards, a procession will take place at The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine for a Commemorative Mass.
Royal celebrities: The current king and queen of Spain, Felipe VI and Letizia, are expected to make an appearance, as well as representatives of the Vatican and other Catholic Church dignitaries.
Kid Zone & Family Oasis: The kids’ activities in this section will keep the little ones entertained. Enjoy face painting, archaeological dig boxes, history touch boxes and more. There’s even a dog station for your four-legged friends!
Fireworks: A festival wouldn’t be complete without a giant fireworks display, and Celebrate 450! won’t disappoint. The fireworks extravaganza is expected to light up the Matanzas River on Saturday, September 5. So, be sure to stick around for the show.
If you’re looking for more fun things to do, check out our St. Augustine Travel Guide. St. Augustine is a magical place with plenty of things to see and do! Explore a little—you won’t regret it!