St. Augustine’s British heritage will be celebrated in grand style on December 4 and 5 when British Night Watch and Grande Illumination return to the Oldest City. One of the most colorful and exciting events of the holiday season, the 35th annual presentation of Grande Illumination and British Night Watch will feature an entertaining and educational blend of pageantry and authentic historical presentations describing life in St. Augustine when it was part of the British Empire (1763-1784).
This year, the fun gets underway Friday, December 4 at 8 p.m. with a free concert featuring traditional Celtic music performed by Father, Son and Friends at the Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum’s Taberna del Gallo on St. George Street. Sangria, cider and ale mixed with boisterous singing by authentically-garbed re-enactors will create just the sort of jocularity needed to ease the pain of the recent loss of the American colonies. Admission is free.
Saturday’s events include a British encampment from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Colonial Spanish Quarter. The encampment will feature a 9 a.m. performance of fife and drum music and the raising of the King’s Colors. A master musician will entertain at 10:30 a.m. followed by fife and drum music at 11 a.m. At 12:45 p.m., a fashion parade featuring the latest fashions from 1782 will take center stage at the encampment. At 2 p.m., special British military demonstrations will take place at the Castillo de San Marcos. At 4 p.m., the public is invited to attend an “afternoon of musik and country dance” at the Flagler Foundation Garden on the corner of St. George and Hypolita Streets.
At 7:30 p.m., the British troops, their Native American allies and camp followers will assemble to the beating of drums and the music of fifes at the De Mesa House on St. George Street. At 8 p.m., this colorful contingent will parade by torchlight to Government House where they will hear a holiday proclamation from the governor before embarking on a festive march through the historic district. The public will be invited to light a candle and join in the boisterous parade through the town. A musketry volley of joy, singing of carols and general revelry by everyone involved will add to the holiday spirit.
All of the events associated with Grande Illumination and British Night Watch are open to the public and admission is free. The events are supported by a grant from the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. For more information, call 904.829.5318 or visit www.britishnightwatch.org.
To find out more about special holiday events and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, contact the Visitors and Convention Bureau at 1.800.653.2489 or go to www.Getaway4Florida.com.