When is Patriots' Day? This uniquely New England holiday, traditionally celebrated only in the states of Massachusetts and Maine, is always on the third Monday in April. Wisconsin also observes Patriots' Day as a public school holiday. For the first time in 2018, Patriots' Day is also an official holiday in Connecticut: Schools will still be in session on this unpaid holiday for state workers.
Why do some states celebrate Patriots' Day? Remember the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" from American history class? The phrase penned by Ralph Waldo Emerson was inspired by the first armed engagement between British soldiers and colonial militiamen at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. Patriots' Day commemorates this opening engagement in the American Revolution, which bolstered colonists' confidence in their ability to fight for and win freedom from British rule.
Initially, Patriots' Day was celebrated each year on April 19: the anniversary of this pivotal event in American history. In 1969, however, the celebration of Patriots' Day was changed to the third Monday of April: New Englanders love their three-day weekends! If you're planning ahead, here is a handy guide to Patriots' Day dates for 2018 and beyond.
Patriots' Day Date 2018 - 2023
Monday, April 16, 2018
Monday, April 15, 2019
Monday, April 20, 2020
Monday, April 19, 2021
Monday, April 18, 2022 (also Easter Monday)
Monday, April 17, 2023
How to Celebrate Patriots' Day in New England
There are several major events and many other activities that take place during Patriots' Day Weekend in Massachusetts and Maine, which was part of Massachusetts until it achieved independent statehood in 1820.
- In Maine, a Patriots' Day Weekend Celebration featuring music, reenactments, historic hunts and more is held each year in Ogunquit. Dates for 2018 are April 13-15. The Meadowmere Resort in Ogunquit has a weekend getaway package for Patriots' Day that makes it easy to enjoy all the festivities.
- Before the Battles of Lexington and Concord, you may recall that patriot extraordinaire Paul Revere made his famous ride 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—"one if by land, and two if by sea"—as we know from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem. Each year since 1875—the 100th anniversary of that fateful night—the Old North Church, the oldest church still standing in Boston, has commemorated the event with a Lantern Ceremony: This year, the 243rd anniversary of that fateful night will be commemorated on Sunday, April 15, 2018, and while the time and details have not yet been announced, tickets for the event can typically be purchased online. Two lanterns will shine from the Old North Church steeple, and the program traditionally features fife and drum music, a reading of Paul Revere's Ride and a keynote speaker.
- The primary event associated with Patriots' Day is the Boston Marathon, which will be run for the 122nd time in 2018. America's second oldest foot race draws both competitive runners and spectators. The eyes of the world will be on Boston on the fifth anniversary of the tragic bombings that occurred at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. This year's Boston Marathon will also honor the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Boston Marathon Military Relay. In 1918, the race took a nontraditional format: 10-man relay teams from various branches of the U.S. military passed a baton along the course. Recreating that symbolism, eight runners with military ties representing the eight cities and towns along the 2018 marathon course will be selected to pass a baton during this year's race.
- Traditionally, a Patriots' Day Parade is held in Concord, Massachusetts, on Patriots' Day. In 2018, a reenactment of the Battle of Lexington will also be held on Patriots' Day—April 16—at 5:30 a.m. Yes, that's early. But waking is a small sacrifice compared to the one made by combatants on both sides who lost their lives that day. These events are the culmination of a three-day holiday weekend of events commemorating the 243rd anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Another moving event—the Lantern Light Procession and Patriot Vigil on the eve of Wednesday, April 18—features music, poetry and a reading of the names of all of the soldiers who died at Lexington and Concord. Additional salutes and themed programs will be held on April 19.