“A TRIBUTE TO BALTIMORE: COMMUNITY. SERVICE. SACRIFICE.”
Known as Baltimore's oldest holiday, Defenders' Day commemorates the anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of the nation's national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." Celebrated continuously each year since the Brits sailed away in 1814!
This year's program will take place September 17-18, 2021 and will include music, living history, U.S. Army, and evening luminaries. This years event will NOT contain fireworks. Instead, join us to experience evening luminaries lighting up the Fort and grounds for a rare nighttime event!
Here's what you need to know:
Park Status: Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine is open daily from 9:00am - 5:00pm. Visitors can enter the grounds for free but must pay a fee for entrance to the historic star fort. Information can be found on our Fees page.
On Saturday, September 18, Fort McHenry's grounds will close at 5:00pm and all visitors must exit the grounds. The gates will then reopen at 7:00pm for the FREE evening program. Gates will close again at 10:00pm. Evening event will be from 7:00pm - 9:30pm.
FREE Saturday evening event where luminaries will light up the Fort’s ramparts and grounds. 1213 luminaries (glowing bags with lights inside), one for each soldier and sailor who defended the Fort & Baltimore in 1814, will ring the star fort’s ramparts and other areas of the grounds. Evening event will be from 7:00pm - 9:30pm.
During the day, experience 1814 living history with both Citizen and Soldier encampments, along with musket and cannon firings.
Enjoy musical performances by the Fort McHenry Guard Fife & Drum Corps and U.S. Army Musical Groups. This includes the Jazz Band, Jazztet, and the Brass Quintet.
The U.S. Army Old Guard, U.S. Army Drill Team and the U.S. Army Commander-In-Chief’s Guard will perform
United States Citizen and Immigration Services Naturalization (USCIS) Ceremony to swear in new U.S. citizens
U.S. Army Military District of Washington New Soldier Enlistment Ceremony featuring local recruits
There will be NO FIREWORKS for this event.
How you can participate:
Join us for any part of the event (schedule below)
Join us from the water! Bring your boat out onto the river outside of the fort to help us light up the water like it would have been in 1814! View the luminaries and the flag from your boat!
Join us through our LIVE Webcam! Participate in the different events, hear the live music and cannons, and view the luminaries and flag from the comfort of your own couch!
Join us virtually! Watch for Defenders' Day posts on social media and share with your friends! Tag Fort McHenry in posts about your favorite Defenders' Day memories on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Make sure to use the tags: #DefendersDay#DefendersDay2021 and #FindYourPark!
Schedule of Events
Friday, September 17, 6:30 pm: PROCESSION CANCELED DUE TO POTENTIAL INCLEMENT WEATHER
6:30 PM Procession: The Fort McHenry Guard, representing the Defenders of 1814 in uniforms of the War of 1812, lead by the Fifes & Drums of Fort McHenry, a group of National Park Service Rangers in their distinctive “gray & green” uniforms, and the National Park Trust Mascot Buddy Bison will parade a replica of the big “Star-Spangled Banner” flag. Local residents and visitors are invited to “find their park” by cheering the procession and waving flags as they walk Hull Street to Fort Avenue and end at Fort McHenry’s gate.
Saturday, September 18,
9:00 am - 4:45 pm:
9:00 a.m.:USCIS Naturalization Ceremony for new citizens and flag change - Next to the flagpole in the star fort
11:50 a.m.: U.S. Army Baltimore Command Enlistment Ceremony for local recruits - Inside historic star fort
Following the enlistment ceremony - Fort McHenry Guard Fife & Drum Corps performance – Inside historic star fort
12:00 Noon: Flag raising ceremony (30x42 Garrison flag weather permitting) with National Anthem performed by the U.S. Army Brass Quintet
1:00 – 4 p.m.: Ranger-led walks to experience living history of the 1814 Defenders with both Citizen and Soldier encampments, will include musket and cannon firings – Throughout the grounds
4:00 p.m.: Evening final formation of the Garrison – Inside historic star fort
Special Evening Event (FREE)
Saturday, September 18,
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm:
7:30 p.m.: Fort McHenry’s new Superintendent David Moore welcomes visitors – At Orpheus Statue
7:30 p.m.: Luminary Opening – 1213 luminaries (glowing bags with lights inside). Each luminary is for each soldier and sailor who defended the Fort & Baltimore in 1814. Luminaries will encircle the star fort’s ramparts and other areas of the grounds
8 p.m.: First self-guided evening walk among the glowing luminaries. Walk will be among Living History encampments lit by campfires and lanterns for a magical evening experience. Cannons will be firing approximately every 15 minutes. Start at Orpheus Statue then around the Grounds
8:00 p.m. – 9:20 p.m.:Self-guided walks will occur every half hour – Start at Orpheus Statue then around the Grounds
9:20 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.: Evening concludes with a authentic 1814 Tattoo performed
by the Fort McHenry Guard Fife and Drum Corps and a flag change.