In September, 2015, St. Augustine, Fla., will celebrate its 450th anniversary in a very big way with a free five-day festival that features national recording artists, historic reenactments, visits by Catholic Archbishops from the U.S. and Cuba, fireworks and street festivals. The city, located on the northeast coast of Florida, is the oldest continuously occupied European city in the United States.
On September 8, 1565, 800 Spaniards gathered on the shores of a Florida saltmarsh at the site of a large Native American village known as Seloy. Soldiers and sailors were joined by more than 100 civilians; married men and women, artisans, tradesmen and children, when Captain General don Pedro Menéndez deAvilés stepped ashore from his longboat. Kneeling and kissing the cross carried by Father Lopez, Menéndez and his officers swore allegiance to God and King and proclaimed this place as “St. Augustine.”
That day marked the beginning of 450 years of a diverse collection of people living, working and raising families in the Nation's oldest city.
You only turn 450 years old once, so St. Augustine is celebrating September 4 – 8, 2015 with more than 60 hours of free entertainment and a wide variety of music scattered over five stages throughout the city's historic downtown, a spectacular fireworks show over Matanzas Bay, historic reenactments, and a Commemorative Mass to be attended by Archbishops and Bishops from across the U.S. and Cuba. The multiple-day anniversary festival known as Celebrate 450! is expected to attract over 35,000 people to the city, which has a population of 13,000.
Friday, Sept. 4 – Historical and cultural performances on multiple downtown stages with national and local musical performances headlined by Mavis Staples and Aaron Neville.
Saturday, Sept. 5 – The festival continues with music headlined by Emmylou Harris with Rodney Crowell, Justin Townes Earle, and JJ Grey & Mofro. The day will include a historic reenactment of the landing of Pedro Menéndez at the location of the original settlement – the Fountain of Youth – along with cultural performances throughout the city. Culminating the day's activities will be a spectacular fireworks show over the Matanzas Bay.
Sunday, Sept. 6 – The highlight of the day will be the EMMA Concert Association Spanish Music and Dance program whichcelebrates St. Augustine's Spanish heritage. Ensembles will perform all styles of Spanish dance.
Monday, Sept. 7 – A cake cutting, reading of a proclamation and local music will take place in the Gazebo in the Plaza de la Constitución across from the historic Government House.
Tuesday, Sept. 8 – 450 years to the day of St. Augustine's founding a reenactment of Pedro Menéndez landing and a Commemorative Mass attended by Catholic Archbishops, including the Archbishops of Boston and of Cuba, will mark the anniversary. The historical reenactment will be followed by a procession of Catholic religious leaders through town and a Commemorative Mass at the Cathedral Basilica, home to the Nation's oldest Catholic parish. Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, and Archbishop Dionisio Guillermo Garcia Ibañez, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, will be joined by more than 20 Bishops from throughout the United States.
While not able to visit St. Augustine during the anniversary festival, King Felipe VI of Spain will attend the U.S. Spain Council International Summit in St. Augustine September 18 – 20. The economic development summit is an event that engenders discussion among world leaders.
Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida's Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra Beach and 42 miles of pristine, Atlantic beaches. For more information on events, activities, holiday getaway and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com, become a fan on Facebook or call 1.800.653.2489.