September 23-24 / Join upwards of 25,000 spectators for a weekend of on-the-water thrills, chills, and racing excitement. Up to 80 hydroplanes, flat bottoms, and jersey speed skiffs from the United States and Canada are expected to compete during this event.
This year, the Hampton Cup Regatta will welcome some of the fastest watercraft in the world. With boats as long as 20 ft., and some reaching speeds of 150 mph, these vessels often set both national and world records. Best of all, the Hampton Cup Regatta is one of the last remaining boat races in the country free of charge! In 2017, Hampton hosts up to 12 classes of the fastest hydroplanes in North America. Considered the loudest piston-powered racing boats in the world, these hydroplanes are sure to have on-lookers marveling.
On Saturday and Sunday, racing starts at approximately 10:30 a.m. (bridge opens at approximately 10 a.m.) and ends by 5:00 p.m. in Mill Creek, located at the entrance of Fort Monroe from the East Mercury Boulevard Bridge. There will be a kickoff event taking place at Oozlefinch Craft Brewery at 81 Patch Rd on Fort Monroe the evening of Friday, September 22nd. A cask of special edition Saison will be on tap in addition to other craft beer favorites. Music by Dew Ballantyne and the Other Medicine begins at 6:30 p.m. Food trucks will also be on site, including Taste of Asia.
Music by Drew Ballantyne (Saturday, Sept.22) and Zen Mojo (Sunday, Sept. 23) will entertain in the main spectator area of the Mercury Blvd Bridge between race heats (2 – 4 p.m. each day). There will be food trucks from Jadean’s Smokin Six-O BBQ, Kona Ice, Papa John’s Pizza, and Super Steve’s Snacks. Souvenir programs, annual limited edition T-shirts, as well as other collectibles, will be on sale. Tentatively, there will be autograph sessions and racer meet-n-greets. Everyone’s favorite car show will also be returning. This year, the children’s area will feature games and activities hosted by Calvary Assembly of God and the Fort Monroe YMCA, among others. Pirates from Blackbeard’s Crew will be encamped. There will also be ATM machines on the bridge for the duration of the weekend.
Lawn chairs are highly encouraged as bleacher seating is extremely limited. Attendees are also encouraged to bring pop-up tents or umbrellas for shade, however owners are responsible for securing them and are encourage to share as needed. Outside food & beverages, coolers, pets (other than service animals), bikes, skates, hoverboards and skateboards are not permitted. Special allowances are made for infants and those with special needs. All bags are subject to search. Admission is FREE.
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Another popular event is the annual Blackbeard Pirate Festival held in June. Named one of the Top Five Pirate Festivals in North America, the festival celebrates Hampton’s rich maritime heritage by commemorating the demise of our most infamous visitor, Captain Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard the Pirate. During the later part of the 1600’s and early 1700’s, pirates roamed the coastal waters of Virginia and North Carolina in search of ships laden with tobacco and other goods. The marauders terrorized waterways and unsuspecting cargo ships, capturing goods, sailors and ships. Captain Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate, was the most daunting of these menacing outlaws. After years of wreaking havoc on Virginia’s shores and economy, Blackbeard’s life was finally taken in a violent sea battle with Lieutenant Robert Maynard in 1718. His severed head was impaled upon a pole near the mouth of Hampton Creek, now known as Blackbeard’s Point, to serve as an unyielding reminder that piracy would not be tolerated in Virginia. In June, roughly 50,000 seafaring attendees, as well as Blackbeard and his crew, once again invade downtown Hampton during the annual Blackbeard Pirate Festival! Interact with Blackbeard (personified by first-person interpreter Ben Cherry) and more than 100 other authentically costumed pirate re-enactors as they run rampant on the streets of America’s oldest continuous English-speaking settlement.
In addition to a children’s area, guests will have the opportunity to stroll through Blackbeard’s Pirate Camp where they can learn how to use a cutlass, load a cannon, or even sing a sea chantey at Pirate’s Cove. At Mill Point Park, visitors can also explore a collection of 17th& 18th century period vendors selling items such as jewelry, clothing, art, and personal accessories. Another highlight of Pirate’s Cove is the Silkie’s Hyde Tavern, a rustic tavern-style throwback to what a Hampton bar would have looked like in the 18th century. Feel free to rub elbows with some of the local swashbucklers and be served by wenches.
Other weekend amusements include a pirate procession, street entertainers, cannon fire at Battery Point, period weaponry demonstrations, vendor demonstrations, and more. Head down Queens Way to check out the Blackbeard stage, complete with daytime pirate entertainment. Don’t forget about The Downtown Hampton Block Party, with live music, concluding with a dramatic fireworks display over the Hampton River!