Ahoy, matey! Grab your eye patch and bandana and join 50,000 other pirate enthusiasts for... a giant pirate festival, obviously.
The Blackbeard Pirate Festival in downtown Hampton, Virginia returns for its 17th year, featuring pirate costumes, battle re-enactments, bird shows, replica pirate ships, colonial games, cannon-loading and so much more.
Named one of the Top Five Pirate Festivals in North America by USA Today Travel last year, the celebration will kick off with the Blackbeard Ball on June 3 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina Hotel (700 Settlers Landing Road). It will continue with a weekend of events on June 4 (10 a.m.-10 p.m.) and June 5 (noon-6 p.m.).
The festival will offer a nod to Blackbeard the Pirate and other outlaws who sailed through Virginia shores in the 1600s and 1700s, looking to rob ships filled with tobacco and other goods.
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Blackbeard himself (played by interpreter Ben Cherry) will be at the festival, along with more than 100 other pirate and militia re-enactors, who are sure to get into some street skirmishes.
Other attractions will include a replica of Blackbeard's pirate camp and vessels, 17th- and 18th-century goods for sale, a re-enactment of Blackbeard's well-known battle with Lt. Maynard, a funeral procession parade and a plethora of treasures for all.
A children's area will feature kid-friendly colonial games and performances and the Picaroon School for Aspiring Pirates.
Saturday night will end with a firework show to celebrate the festivities.
Although the weekend festival is free admission, the Friday ball costs $35 in advance (call 757-727-6348) or $40 at the door.
For pirates who are shipping into the festival, dock space is available. For more information, call Hampton Public Piers at (757) 727-1276, Customs House Marina (757) 868-9375, Bluewater Marina (757) 723-6774, Sunset Boating Center (757) 722-3325, or Joy’s Marina (757) 723-1022.