St. Augustine, the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the US, is celebrating its 450th birthday this weekend.
The city is offering free music, events and reenactments for locals and visitors alike.
There will be four stages set up throughout the historic downtown area. Performers include over 60 local artists plus headliners like Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Aaron Neville, and Mavis Staples.
There are also events at the St. Augustine Amphitheater, the Fountain of Youth archaeological park and other local attractions, plus street festivals, a Fun Zone for kids in the plaza, and of course, fireworks over the Mantazas Bay.
Parking is expected to be tight throughout the Labor Day weekend.
The go-to spot for parking is the city’s garage off of W Castillo Drive. The cost is $10 per car per entry. The garage is open 24 hours a day. Francis Field, next to the garage, will also be available for parking at the same cost.
Quite a few additional parking lots will be open near the downtown area, for a fee, and parking can also be found on Anastasia Island with free shuttles providing rides to the foot of the Bridge of Lions (on the island side). A transportation map detailing parking locations is available on the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration’s site.
Transportation from one event in the downtown area to another is primarily on foot. Many of the roads downtown will be closed to cars during the festivities. Bike taxis, carriage rides, and other alternative forms of transportation will be available for a fee.
A map of the downtown area with the locations and times of different events is available through the city’s local newspaper, The St. Augustine Record. This link also includes a great schedule and description of various 450th events.
The highpoint of the weekend will be Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell on the main stage between the Bridge of Lions and the historic plaza. At the end of the concert, fireworks will be launched over the Mantanzas River. The fireworks can be watched from the Bridge of Lions, the lawn of the Castillo de San Marcos, the bayfront, and many other locations around the bay and city.
The city is not allowing chairs, including folding lawn chairs, in the main stage viewing area, but they can be used in other locations. A full list of what’s allowed and not allowed, along with answers to other questions, is available on the city’s 450th FAQ page.
The weather may be a little iffy. Temps are expected to be in the mid-70’s to mid-80’s, which sounds nice – but the humidity is high and it will be muggy. There’s an ongoing chance of rain, about 50%, and some thunder storms are possible.
While the bulk of the 450th events will be over the weekend, the party extends into early next week and beyond.
On Monday, free birthday cake will be served up in the historic plaza and an official 450th Birthday Proclamation will be read.
Tuesday, September 8th, the actual anniversary of St. Augustine’s founding, will be marked with a reenactment of Pedro Menéndez’s landing at the Mission Nombre de Dios and a procession to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine for a Commemorative Mass.
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain will visit St. Augustine on Sept. 17 and 18 to commemorate the founding of St. Augustine, by Spain, 450 years ago.
Renee Unsworth, the publisher of Totally St. Augustine, has put together what’s probably the most complete list of events and information on the 450th celebrations. Kudos to Renee for doing such a fantastic job on this.
Headed into St. Augustine for the 450th?
What are you most looking forward to?
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