Celebrating Patriots' Day in New England

illustration of runners at the Boston Marathon for Patriots' Day

 TripSavvy / Michela Buttignol

This uniquely New England holiday, traditionally celebrated only in the states of Massachusetts and Maine, is always on the third Monday in April. Patriots' Day celebrates the beginning of the American Revolution with the first squabble that took place on April 19, 1775—famously known as the "shot heard 'round the world" in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Fights broke out in Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts that day between the local colonialists and British overseers, leading to the Revolutionary War.

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 so it always creates a three-day weekend.

Patriots' Day Dates

  • Monday, April 20, 2020
  • 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

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.

  • The primary event associated with Patriots' Day is the Boston Marathon, which will be run for the 124th time in 2020. The oldest continuously held annual marathon in the world draws both competitive runners and spectators.
  • In Maine, a Patriots' Day Weekend Celebration featuring music, reenactments, historic hunts, and more is held each year in Ogunquit. Dates for 2020 are April 17–19. 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 245th anniversary of that fateful night will be commemorated on Sunday, April 19, 2020, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and tickets for the event can 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.
  • Traditionally, a Patriots' Day Parade is held in Concord, Massachusetts, on Patriots' Day. In 2020, a reenactment of the Battle of Lexington will also be held on Patriots' Day—April 20—at 5:30 a.m. These events are the culmination of a three-day holiday weekend of events commemorating the 245th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.​
  • Another moving event—the Lantern Light Procession and Patriot Vigil on the eve of Saturday, 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. On Saturday, April 25, head to the Hartwell Tavern in Lincoln, Massachusetts, for a historical show called, "After the Battle - The War Has Begun."
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