Celebrating Patriots' Day in New England

illustration of runners at the Boston Marathon for Patriots' Day

 TripSavvy / Michela Buttignol

Patriots' Day, a unique New England holiday traditionally celebrated only in the states of Massachusetts and Maine, always lands on the third Monday in April. The event honors the beginning of the American Revolution (April 18, 1775) between local colonialists and British overseers, most specifically the Battle of Lexington, the Battle of Concord, and the Battle of Menotomy (now Arlington, Massachusetts). This day also commemorates the date famously known as the first "shot heard 'round the world," in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Initially, Patriots' Day was celebrated each year on April 19, the anniversary of this pivotal event. However, in 1969, Patriots' Day was changed to the third Monday of April so as to always create a three-day weekend.

Patriots' Day Dates

The date of Patriots' Day fluctuates each year with the traditional Gregorian calendar, landing on the third Monday of every month. It's a day of celebration for residents of Massachusetts and Maine, as they get to enjoy a three-day weekend. Below are the dates for the next several years:

  • Monday, April 19, 2021
  • Monday, April 18, 2022 (also Easter Monday)
  • Monday, April 17, 2023
  • Monday, April 15, 2024
  • Monday, April 21, 2025

How to Celebrate Patriots' Day in New England

Several major events and activities occur on Patriots' Day weekend in Massachusetts and Maine, (which formerly was part of Massachusetts until it achieved independent statehood in 1820). Runners and spectators can enjoy the Boston Marathon, while history buffs can visit a historical church and take part in an evening vigil.

Celebrations:

  • The Boston Marathon, which will be run for the 125th time in 2021, marks the primary event associated with Patriots' Day. It's the oldest continuously-held annual marathon in the world and draws both competitive runners and eager spectators. Note: In 2021, the Boston Marathon has moved to October 11.
  • In Ogunquit Maine, a two-week Patriots' Day Celebration (April 16-May 2, 2021) features a fife and drum concert, a scavenger hunt, kite making for kids, and human statues of historical figures. The Meadowmere Resort in Ogunquit offers you a front-row seat to festivities and has a weekend getaway package for this holiday.
  • Traditionally, a Patriots' Day Parade is held in Concord, Massachusetts on the celebrated Monday. In 2021, you can enjoy this event virtually on April 19 by viewing footage from past Patriots' Day city celebrations, clips of historical artifacts, and a lecture sponsored by the Concord Library.

Historical gatherings:

  • Early risers can head to Lexington Square in Boston to enjoy a battle reenactment at 5:45 a.m. The schedule traditionally includes an "alarm" at the old Belfry, a reenactment on the Battle Green, and a pancake breakfast sponsored by regional Boy Scout troops. In 2021, however, the reenactment will be held virtually with complementary programming, including question and answer sessions with key historians.
  • Patriot extraordinaire, Paul Revere, made his famous ride before the Battles of Lexington and Concord to warn of the British advance. He looked to the steeple of Boston's Old North Church on the eve of April 18, 1775, for a lantern signal of "one if by land, and two if by sea" (as we know from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem). The Old North Church—the oldest church still standing in Boston—commemorates this event each year with a lantern ceremony. This year, the 246th anniversary of that fateful night will be honored on Sunday, April 18, 2021, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Two lanterns will shine from the Old North Church's steeple, alongside fife and drum music, a reading of Paul Revere's Ride, and a keynote speaker.
  • The Patriot Vigil takes place on the eve of Sunday, April 18, 2021, and features a candlelight tribute at the North Bridge battleground. This year's 2021 event will be pre-recorded and held virtually. Attendees are invited to place a candle or candle lantern in their window, and then photograph it and post it on social media using the #PatriotVigil.

Tips for Enjoying Patriots' Day in the City of Boston

  • Instead of battling crowds in Hopkinton, Massachusetts (the start of the race) or Boylston Street (the finish line), enjoy the marathon from Ashland State Park.
  • There's no better time than Patriots' Day to follow the two-and-a-half-mile Freedom Trail that takes you past Boston's most historical sites, like Faneuil Hall, the Old South Meeting House, and the USS Constitution.
  • Act like a local and attend an annual Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Games are held early on Patriots' Day so that sports fans can also make it to the marathon.
Was this page helpful?