Mayflower 400 Celebrations
An inspiring year of commemoration across 12 destinations
Plymouth is a melting bot of historical sites, memorials and museums - alongside a vibrant cultural scene, stunning places to eat and some of England's finest beaches. Sightseeing in Plymouth is easily done on foot; you can explore The Barbican, Sutton Harbour, Royal William Yard and The Hoe.
The Mayflower 400 Story
Plymouth has a reputation as a centre for voyage, discovery and military importance. For more than a thousand years the spectacular waterfront has been a port of call or point of departure for adventurers, emigrants, merchant traders, soldiers and sailors.
On 16 September 1620, the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth UK with just 102 passengers and 30 crew on board with what William Bradford, an English Separatist who became the American Plymouth Colony Governor, called “a prosperous wind.” You can read their story by clicking here.
The city of Plymouth and those communities with historic connections to the Mayflower journey will commemorate the 400 year anniversary in 2020. It will provide a platform for a national and international celebration.
The Mayflower Steps
You can visit the world-famous Mayflower Steps, the spot close to the site on The Barbican from which it is believed the Pilgrims set sail for North America in 1620. The Mayflower Steps are flanked by the British and American flags and mark the final English departure point of the Mayflower. The actual steps the pilgrims left from no longer exist. A granite block bearing the ship’s name marks the approximate site, while a tablet commemorating the voyage was erected alongside in 1891.
The Mayflower Museum
Set over three floors, the Mayflower Museum uses interactive graphic panels to let you explore tales of merchant families, the fishing industry, the military harbour and emigration to the New World. Start your journey by stepping onto the top floor balcony to enjoy fantastic views across Sutton Harbour. You will travel through time from the early beginnings of Sutton Harbour, then a rocky natural harbour, through to the thriving tourist destination we see today.
In spring 2020 The Box will open as a flagship museum and cultural centre for Plymouth. The Box will house archives and a dedicated Mayflower exhibition, and an internationally important exhibition about the Mayflower that will debunk myths and tell the story of one of the world’s most significant journeys. It will feature 300 items, on loan from 100 museums, libraries and archives from around the world, including Native American items from The National Museum of the American Indian and the Harvard Peabody collection. The exhibition will be free to Plymouth residents and under 18s. Tickets for non-residents will be just £5.
In October 2019 it was announced that a flotilla of fabulous figureheads will return to Plymouth to be displayed in The Box, after being restored in a hugely ambitious conservation project. The 14 Royal Navy figureheads, weighing more than 20 tonnes, will start arriving on Monday 21 October and will take two weeks to be delivered and installed in their new home.
The figureheads were carved in the 1800s and are on loan to The Box from the National Museums of the Royal Navy. They have been saved from decay by three specialist conservation teams based in London, Devon and Cornwall. Over the last two years, the teams have painstakingly analysed, repaired and repainted them – removing years of water damage and returning them to their former glory.
Once built to adorn the bows of naval warships, these icons of maritime history will be suspended in a huge sweep in The Box’s main entrance space next spring. The 13 figureheads will hang from the ceiling, secured with just three cables to create the effect of a fleet of carvings floating in space. The 14th and largest figurehead will stand on the floor with a huge display of nearly 300 ship’s badges behind it.
The Mayflower Trail
Explore Plymouth and The Mayflower Trail taking in some of the landmarks and buildings the crew and passengers visited. The app will give you a glimpse of Plymouth in 1620 stopping at historic sites that include the Old Customs House, Blackfriars Plymouth Gin Distillery, St Andrew's Minster Church and The Prysten House.
With events bringing the route to life through the year. For the full experience, download the interactive Plymouth Trails app and choose from the three core self-guided trails – Mayflower, Hoe or City Centre. The Plymouth Trails app will be available to download for free on both Apple and Android devices. See the promotional video:
Plymouth is developing a world-class culture and heritage programme for Mayflower 400 in 2020. There will be over 100 moments to mark 400 years of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth, with a packed calendar with city-wide events and exhibitions ranging from art, music and theatre to installations and festivals. Highlights include:
28th November 2019 - Illuminate
Illuminate Plymouth is a spectacular light-based festival that will help launch the Mayflower 400 anniversary year from the maritime city's historic waterfront on 28th November 2019. A series of dazzling installations and projections will make Plymouth shine ahead of the official commemorations, forming part of the opening ceremony with other Illuminate events across the Mayflower destinations.
21st - 29th March 2020 - Mayflower Sports Week
Being held in association with Plymouth Argyle, Plymouth Albion and Plymouth Raiders, Mayflower Sports Week celebrates all that's great about professional sport in Plymouth. Home fixtures will feature community activity and themed workshops. Also, an inaugural city-wide sporting quiz night will be held at Home Park during that week, an event with real legacy and one that will involve people of all ages, abilities and sporting interests. More information coming soon, watch this space...
24th - 25th March 2020 - Some Call It Home
The Arts Institute at the University of Plymouth presents Some Call It Home, a new multi-media music drama showing at Theatre Royal Plymouth, focused on the critical issue of our fraught relationship with our home, our planet. After their treacherous Atlantic Crossing, how did the Pilgrims' leader react to reaching land? 200 years later, whose destiny was "manifest"? And who are today’s Pilgrims? With live music and international star soloists, this hard-hitting work of art explores how we have carved destinies by pitching dominion of our land against stewardship, from 1620 to the present. Feel the passion with live music from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and star soloists, experience the past as never before, and emerge with an idea of what good we can all do for our future. Following each performance, there will be a free after-show discussion panel, lasting between 45 and 60 minutes.
3rd - 5th April 2020 - Plymouth Special Olympics
In April 2020 as part of Plymouth’s Mayflower 400 celebrations, Special Olympics Plymouth and District (SOPD) are hosting the first ever International Special Olympics Games.
5th April 2020 - Plymouth Philharmonic Choir
The Plymouth Philharmonic Choir’s 50th season begins with a performance of Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony at Plymouth Guildhall. The huge scale of this work evokes the great power of the oceans themselves, the music is sometimes as lively as the high seas and at others rocking gently like a lullaby. The choir will be joined by soprano Catherine Hamilton and baritone Julian Rippon. Parry's Blest Pair of Sirens and Elgar's Sea Pictures complete the programme. Ticket details are to be confirmed.
1st May 2020 - The Mayflower History Festival
The Mayflower History Festival will be a city-wide programme of activity, including talks, tours, reenactments and exhibitions run by local people and organisations in Plymouth. The annual History Festival will be rebranded in 2020 to incorporate Mayflower-related activities and celebrate Plymouth’s wider history.
4th - 10th May 2020 - The Mayflower Ocean Festival
The Mayflower Ocean Festival will celebrate Plymouth’s status as Britain’s Ocean City, bringing together the world-class OSTAR and TWOSTAR races with city’s existing Pirates Weekend and a host of new activities that will get people on the water.
8th - 10th May 2020 - Plymouth Pirates Weekend
The most swashbuckling of days out imaginable, Plymouth Pirates Weekend will return to the city's historic waterfront for a weekend of family fun in May 2020. This award-winning family event promises an adventure-filled day out with tall ships, a packed programme of children's activities and plenty of music and entertainment to get everyone involved.
Tall Ship Atyla Sailing Experience
Enjoy Pirates Weekend Plymouth 2020 as a real pirate with a tall ship training experience. Sail on Atyla from the Pirates Weekend in Plymouth through the English Channel and the Biscay Bay. Spend 4 days at sea with a nice stop in the middle and then have a chance to explore Bilbao. More information
16th May 2020 - The Box Opens
The Box is a major new cultural and heritage attraction which is set to open in Plymouth in spring 2020. The Box will transform the City Museum and Art Gallery, former Central Library and St Luke’s Church building. In its place will be a venue and visitor experience fit for generations to come. With an unforgettable programme of activity that will be a highlight of the Mayflower 400 commemoration. Plus, an internationally important exhibition about the Mayflower that will debunk myths and tell the story of one of the world’s most significant journeys.
17th May 2020 - Ocean City Half Marathon
A challenging, yet scenic 13.1 mile course taking in Plymouth's famous landmarks. England’s south coast plays host to one of the most celebrated running events in the entire UK. The Plymouth Half Marathon takes runners along a path that features great coastal views, the National Trust grounds of Saltram Park, and the Plymouth Hoe.
23rd May 2020 - University of Plymouth Choral Society
The first of four classical concerts led by Plymouth Music Accord, the University of Plymouth Choral Society will perform The Mayflower Pilgrims – a cantata about the Atlantic crossing by Clive Jenkins. It will take place at St Andrew's Minster. Ticket details are to be announced.
3rd June 2020 - Plymouth and District Organists' Association
The second in a series of classical concerts for Mayflower 400 will take place at St Andrew's Minster with an organ recital by Richard Line, plus premières of works by Plymouth composer Clive Jenkins and Harvard University organist Carson Cooman. This new music will later tour and feature in the recital series at Harvard University in October. Ticket details are to be announced.
16th - 20th June 2020 - This Land
Performed by citizens of Plymouth UK and members of the Wampanoag tribe from Massachusetts USA at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, with text by Nick Stimson and songs written and performed by Seth Lakeman. This Land is the story of what happened then and what it means now. This major new work of international community theatre wrestles with the complex history surrounding the voyage of The Mayflower and the impact of its arrival on the shores of Massachusetts. Ticket details are to be confirmed.
17th June 2020 - Plymouth Symphony Orchestra
The third in a series of classical concerts for Mayflower 400 in Plymouth presents an all-American programme featuring pianist Joanna MacGregor in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue by Plymouth Symphony Orchestra in the historic surrounds of the Plymouth Guildhall. Ticket details are to be announced.
July 2020 - Elizabethan House Opening
Visit Plymouth's newest visitor attraction, situated a stone's throw from the Mayflower Steps. Set on the Barbican's cobbled New Street, the Elizabethan House will provide a unique, immersive experience that will take you back to the time of the Pilgrims and their epic journey. The House is located in the vicinity of the Elizabethan Gardens, a hidden treasure that provides a great place to take a break from exploring the Barbican, and a great range of pubs and places to eat.
5th July 2020 - Plymouth Philharmonic Choir
The highlight of Plymouth Philharmonic Choir’s 50th anniversary year, where they present the world premiere of Plymouth-born composer Paul Foster's The Lodestone of Love, a large-scale oratorio for choir, soloists and orchestra at Plymouth Guildhall. This piece draws on the writings of members of the Puritan community that included those who left on the Mayflower. It is about having to depart from everything you know and leaving for the unknown, taking with you only that most defining human emotion: the capacity to love. There will be an introductory talk by the composer before the performance. Ticket details are to be announced.
6th July 2020 - 2nd August 2020 - Settlement
Twenty Native American artists will both present and live in a radical large-scale installation of public art in Plymouth's Central Park for the summer of 2020, in a groundbreaking project linking communities across the globe.
The artists, from varying tribal nations across the USA, will explore colonialism and the deep effects it has on indigenous people for the installation, called Settlement. It will be designed by indigenous artists with the structure created by builders, makers and artists from Plymouth and the USA. Entry details are to be confirmed.
25th July 2020 - Street Factory Mass Hip Hop Dance
People across the city will take part in a mass street dance organised by Street Factory, reaching from the Barbican to the Hoe in a bold and contemporary interpretation of the Mayflower story. This will incorporate four hip hop theatre pieces, telling real-life stories through the cornerstones of hip hop culture - b-boying, graffiti, MCing, rapping, poetry, spoken word and DJing. They will be inspired by core the Mayflower’s values - freedom, humanity, imagination and the future.
1st August - 30th September 2020 - The 400
The 400 is a light-hearted and irreverent piece of theatre that looks at Britain’s relationship with the USA – from 1620 all the way through to now. Performed by renowned comedy/clowning theatre company Le Navet Bête, it will take place at the Plymouth Athenaeum between August and September 2020, it follows the hilarious attempts of four people trying to flee their past lives. Ticket details are to be confirmed.
3rd - 9th August 2020 - Plymouth Pride
The colourful, loud and proud Pride Festival returns to Plymouth, celebrating and promoting the diversity that exists within the LGBTQ communities. All are welcome to join us to show your support and acceptance of our diverse people and talent
17th - 23rd August 2020 - An exciting new event
More information coming soon, watch this space...
9th - 16th September 2020 - Flower and Quilt Festival
A stunning array of flowers and quilts will be displayed in the beautiful surrounds of the Minister of St Andrew's Church in a festival exploring the Mayflower's voyage. The exhibition will consider the themes of freedom, faith and personal liberty that informed the original journey and will recognise the impact on Native American communities, addressing themes of colonialism and migration both in 1620 and today.
14th - 16th September 2020 - Mayflower Week
A new event for Plymouth in 2020 that will include marking the very date the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth on 16 September, heralding an amazing week of activity, including; a visit from the Matthew, a replica 15th-century tall ship and daily fly-bys.
16th September 2020 - The Mayflower Ceremony
On 16th September 2020, a four-nation civic ceremony commemorating the Mayflower’s journey and legacy on the day of the Mayflower departure, attended by representatives from the UK, US, Netherlands and Wampanoag. The Mayflower Ceremony will be schools and mass participation elements, making sure that Plymouth’s residents are at the heart of this special day.
17th September 2020 - Veteran's Triathlon
Traditionally held in Lympstone but transferred to Plymouth for this extra special year, The Royal Marines Rehabilitation Triathlon, injured serving and former tri-service men and women will compete with a swim at Tinside, cycle ride and static row on Plymouth Hoe promenade.
19th - 20th September 2020 - The Mayflower Muster
On 19th and 20th September 2020, we will celebrate Plymouth's heritage as one of the world's foremost Naval bases - with a heritage dating back to 1691. In partnership with the US and Dutch Armed Forces, The Mayflower Muster, a spectacular festival including live displays, interactive demonstrations and a host of other activity will take place over two days, signalling the end of Mayflower Week.
26th - 29th September 2020 - Illuminate
The closing event of the Mayflower programme and an even bigger festival of light, including a nationally commissioned piece of art connecting the national Mayflower partnership. Illuminate Plymouth is a spectacular light-based festival that helped launch the Mayflower 400 anniversary year from the maritime city's historic waterfront on 28th November 2019.
Stay at Future Inn Plymouth
The Barbican is a 19-minute drive from Future Inn Plymouth. Alternatively, it would take around 34-minutes on public transport or 26-minutes by bike. It would take approximately 1 hour and 21 minutes to walk from the hotel.
Future Inn Plymouth is an ideal base for the night offering various sized rooms including ones that can sleep up to four adults or a family. Perks include free car parking, free wifi and a complimentary robe and slippers. Book direct for the best available rates on our website or by contacting the Reservations Team on 01752 701000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pre or Post Event Dining
Fishbone Restaurant is ideal to fuel up before or after the event. Every day the team serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, evening a-la-carte or traditional roasts on Sunday. A large selection of drinks is also available including cocktails all of which are £7. Under 5's eat for free with a paying adult, and the offer is extended to under 12's during the school holidays. Bookings can be made on 01752 701000 or email@example.com. Alternatively, you can book online: