You only turn 450 years old once, so St. Augustine is celebrating in a big way with something for everyone while embracing the city’s 450-year history!
On a warm September 8 in the year 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. Spanish Captain General don Pedro Menéndez de Aviles stepped ashore, swore allegiance to God and King and proclaimed this place as “St. Augustine.”
That day marked the beginning of 450 years of people living, working and raising families in what is today the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States.
Celebrate 450! is the catchphrase that describes the five days of joyous revelry from September 4 -8. This free event features more than 60 musical acts and cultural performances on stages located in and around the historic district along with a colorful kids zone. Concert headliners include Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples, JJ Grey & Mofro, and Justin Townes Earle. Saturday ends with a spectacular fireworks display over Matanzas Bay.
Tuesday, Sept. 8 is the actual day that St. Augustine marks its anniversary a reenactment of the landing of Menendez on the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios near the exact location of that original landing. Following the reenactment, a procession will travel down San Marco Avenue to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine for a commemorative Mass.
Throughout the celebrations, a Tapestry holds the city’s diverse history together. Tapestry: The Cultural Threads of First America is a signature St. Augustine 450th Commemoration exhibition that shares the story of how three intertwining cultures – Hispanics, Africans and Native Americans – came together to form the foundation of the American culture and create the blended society of today’s St. Augustine. This free exhibit is on display at the St. Augustine Visitors Information Center daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through September 20.