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Roanoke Island Festival Park
Festival Park
Manteo, NC 27854
(252) 475-1506
Park Description

Welcome to Roanoke Island Festival Park, a 25-acre island across from the Manteo waterfront, where history comes alive, the “natives” are friendly, art and nature surround you, and there’s big fun for everyone--rain or shine--year round. Through a 16th-century ship, living history, an interactive museum and a variety of performing and visual arts, Roanoke Island Festival Park is a celebration of Roanoke Island’s place in history as the birthplace of English-speaking America.  
In 1584, 23 years before the Jamestown settlement, the dream of an English-speaking nation began on the shores of Roanoke Island. This small island was home to the first temporary English settlements in the New World, sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh during the years 1584 to 1587. Roanoke Island Festival Park celebrates this period of Roanoke Island History through history-made-fun and a passion for the arts.  
On Elizabeth II, a representative 16th-century sailing ship, you’ll meet sailors like those who sailed across the Atlantic in 1585. Dressed in period garments and speaking Elizabethan dialect, these interpreters bring the history of the voyages to life At the Settlement Site, you’ll encounter soldiers bravely facing the challenges of the New World. By viewing the film The Legend of Two Path, you’ll find out how the 1584 arrival of the English changed the life of the native Roanoke Island population, the Algonquians.  
In the Roanoke Adventure Museum, interactive exhibits explore the 400 years of Outer Banks history since America’s beginning. You can site a star with an astrolabe, meet Algonquians through John White drawings, climb aboard a spritsail skiff and hoist her sails, meet a pirate who sailed with Blackbeard, learn about lighthouses and lifesaving, experience duck hunting and a take shopping trip to a 1930"s general store.  
The spacious Art Gallery features monthly changing exhibits by artists from far and near. The Museum Store offers distinctive gifts, books, jewelry, toys, nautical gifts and more with the flavor of the Outer Banks.  
A variety of performances take place year round at Roanoke Island Festival Park. Check the Calendar of Events for what’s on now and what’s coming soon.  Don"t forget to visit the Outer Banks History Center offering a reading room and reserach library.  
Boardwalks,through natural marshes, surround much of Roanoke Island Festival Park and new worlds of nature await discovery. Here, life takes on a whole new perspective as you get up-close to nature and visually observe its hidden pristine beauty and quite surrounding. You will discover dew-covered wildflowers illuminated by the sweet light of early morning and stunning sunrise hues across Roanoke Sound. Take a break along the way and observe first-hand our award-winning shoreline, Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Protection Project, which includes 5 acres of maritime forest and shallow estuarine habitat.  Examine the surrounding rock sill, providing protection for the habitat and public facilities from future erosion. The area embodies the hertiage of Roanoke Island, a walk back to a simpler way of life, in its ecological blend inhabited by turtles, muskrats, egrets, rabbits, osprey and red-winged black birds.  
In addition,are picnic tables,a fossil pit and expansive lawns and flowers.  
Don’t miss the NC Maritime Museum on Roanoke Island, just a block away, that features a working boathouse and the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse. The screw-pile light is a reproduction on one that stood near the site. View the permanent display on the history of the structure. 

England’s first colony in the New World was a fortified settlement that housed 108 men on the north end of Roanoke Island. While there are no detailed descriptions of the fort, John White’s drawing of defenses built by Ralph Lane at Puerto Rico during the voyage FROM England shows several features of these 16th-century earthworks. Bastions or firing positions for muskets and cannon extended FROM the walls like the points of a star. A moat-like ditch was dug around the fort for more protection. Digging the ditch provided earth for elevating the fort and for a surrounding slope of dirt to help defend the fort. The Settlement Site at Festival Park represents a temporary sentry outpost, positioned with good views of the sea to prevent the English soldiers FROM being surprised by their dreaded enemy, the Spanish.  
Building the fort required felling trees, hewing timbers, sawing out planks and moving vast chucks of earth. While construction was underway, some men stood watch and drilled with matchlock firearms, such as the harquebus and caliver. The men also drilled with long-staffed pikes and short-staff pole arms such as the bill and halberd.  
Before arriving at Roanoke Island, all of the ships of the 1585 voyage ran aground near Wococon, or Ocracoke Inlet, and many supplies were lost. Gifts of food FROM the native Algonquians became important for survival. The natives showed the Englishmen how to make weirs, or fish traps, but as competition for wild game and seafood increased, hostilities began to surface. The natives broke up the Englishmen’s fish traps at night and sent word to other villages that no assistance should be given to the Englishmen as they explored inland.  
In late spring 1586, Sir Francis Drake arrived at the Outer Banks following successful raids at several Spanish colonies. A great storm arrived about two days after Drake, forcing his fleet out to sea. This changed the plans to relocate the Roanoke Island settlement to the Chesapeake Bay area. Eventually all of the men returned to England with Drake--except three who were on an inland mission and were forgotten in the hasty departure.  
Sir Richard Grenville arrived with the official relief expedition for the settlement about two weeks after Drake, and the men sailed for England. Without knowledge of the circumstances, Grenville left a force of only 15 men to maintain England’s foothold on this land. After a skirmish with hostile natives, the survivors of this GROUP fled in a small boat and their fate is unknown. This sacrifice of lives and the loss of many drawings and other records destroyed in the confusion of boarding Drake’s ships would seem to make the 1585 colony a failure. However, the documents that did survive inspired and guided Jamestown and other successful English adventures in the New World.

Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. February 19 - April 1 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 1 - November 1 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 1 - December 31 (Closed November 22 and December 24,25, 26)

Fees: There are entry fees for this park
No Metro Region listed. Park Management: State

Benches   Boardwalk   Handicap Accessible   Historical Colonial   Historical Landmark   Historical Native American   Historical Structure   Museum   Ocean   Open Space   Parking   Ranger Station   Restrooms   Scenic Views   Special Features   Trails, Natural Surface