It was supposed to be a yearlong commemoration of the 1620 sailing of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim settlement of what became New England.
Then came the global pandemic that is the novel coronavirus and international tourism ground to a halt.
A large component of the celebration in Britain involved the expected hundreds of thousands of American tourists in the lead up to Sept. 16, the exact anniversary of the Mayflower’s departure from Plymouth, England. But with foreign tourists effectively banned — technically a visit is possible if one quarantines for two weeks upon arrival in the United Kingdom — the entire program had to be adapted.
The recently relaunched Mayflower 400 commemoration includes much of the programming originally planned. The big change, however, is the extension of the timetable through next summer, which should enable destinations, attractions, museums and tour operators to recoup some of the visitors and money lost this year.
Home base for much of commemoration is Plymouth, England, which sees new museum The Box finally open later this month with its flagship exhibition, “Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy.” Organizers tout the exhibition as highlighting the experience and impact the Pilgrims had on local Indians. Also exhibited will be 300 artifacts, including the first Bible printed in the present-day United States.
Meanwhile, programming on this side of the pond is moving forward under the auspices of Plymouth 400.
This includes Mayflower II, a replica ship, and Plimoth Plantation, the living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. There will also be a formal remembrance ceremony with dignitaries and others in April.
Dennis Lennox writes about travel, politics and religious affairs. He has been published in the Financial Times, Independent, The Detroit News, Toronto Sun and other publications. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter.