Experience Historic New Jersey

December: Bombardments and Battles and Patriotism! Oh my! Make your holidays revolutionary with Patriots Week fun!

In December 1776, the prospects for liberty were bleak for American troops fighting in the Revolutionary War. The British and their Hessian allies had taken New York and captured Fort Lee, forcing General George Washington’s troops into retreat across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania.

But hope was not lost. General Washington devised a plan to surprise Hessian troops at Trenton when they least expected it, in the harsh snow just after Christmas. Thus began the “Ten Crucial Days,” when American victories in three battles in Trenton and Princeton turned the tide of the Revolution.

Several historic New Jersey communities celebrate these stirring military victories during Patriots Week in Mercer County. Historic reenactors and museums join forces with arts organizations, community groups and local businesses to bring the drama and spirit of ’76 alive. And this year, festivities are scheduled until January 7, bringing the excitement well into the new year. Many of the events are free, so bring your family and friends!

Watch the reenactmen of Washington Crossing the Delaware in Titusville on Christmas Day, December 25. Hundreds of reenactors in Revolutionary War uniforms are set to cross in flat-bottomed Durham boats like those Washington’s troops used on the stormy night in 1776. While the weather will likely be much better than the wind and snow the Patriots encountered that fateful night, the river poses challenges for rowers even today, making for a suspenseful crossing!

Mingle with uniformed Revolutionary-era soldiers and their ladies at the Colonial Ball at the Historic Trenton Masonic Hall on December 30. Got two left feet? No worries! They’ll be happy to teach you a few steps to impress your friends.

The Battle of Trenton brings the excitement of the Revolutionary War to the present day streets of New Jersey’s capital city. Witness the conflict as uniformed reenactors face off on December 31 to fire cannons and muskets in the very same places the battles took place 240 years ago.;

Beyond the battlefield, lovers of the arts and sciences have plenty to choose from to celebrate the spirit of independence during Patriots Week. The Practitioners of Musick and shape note singers share the music of Revolutionary times, while the New Jersey Capital Philharmonic Orchestra will offer a New Year’s Eve concert. And the New Jersey State Planetarium offers a view into the constellations as they were in place when Washington crossed the Delaware.

Love the nightlife? Join other folks in an exploration of downtown Trenton watering holes and restaurants during the Revolutionary Pub Crawl (it’s a great chance to wear that tricorn hat you’ve been keeping in the back of your closet!).

The adventure continues into 2017 as the action moves toward Princeton. On January 7, make your side known as British and American troops make their moves toward Princeton. British troops occupy the town and demand loyalty to the King in an event at Palmer Square, while American troops march toward the town from Trenton’s Old Barracks. Meanwhile, you’re invited to join in at Reenactment of the Colonel Hand March in Lawrence Township as they march to delay British troops’ move toward Princeton.

Find more Revolutionary events throughout New Jersey visit the Crossroads of the American Revolution website or New Jersey's Calendar of Events.