Festival Park, Manteo, NC
First English Colony in the New World
England’s first attempt to colonize the New World occurred on an island named Roanoke on the coast of North Carolina in the sixteenth century. The mystery of the disappearance of the colony is one of the most popular stories in American History, perhaps due to Paul Green’s outdoor drama, The Lost Colony.
Sir Walter Raleigh was given the task by the English government to establish a colony in the New World on Roanoke Island. He was able to convince people to join the colony because jobs were scarce and the cost of living had gotten high in England. The people hoped to find a better life in America. Sir Walter Raleigh hoped to gain riches for England (and himself) by having the colonists work in mines and on plantations.
In 1585 the first attempt failed because their supplies spoiled and the Indians did not have enough food to help them. Strife arose between the Indians and the English. The all-men colony returned to their home country.
In 1587 a second attempt was made, this time the colony included women and children. John White, governor of the colony returned to England to get more supplies because the people had not learned to be self-sufficient. His return was delayed because of a war between England and Spain. When he came back in 1590 the colony had disappeared. The mystery of what happened to this English colony remains a mystery still.
Festival Park Allows Visits to Walk Back in Time
Visitors to Roanoke Island shouldn’t miss a tour of Festival Park in Manteo. Walk back into the sixteenth century through an Indian village, designed from the drawings of John White. White recorded Native American lifestyles, as well as flora and fauna he found on the island with water color drawings. In the village are lodge houses, gardens, and work shelters. The ceremonial dance circle is easily recognized from Whites famous drawing. Learn how a dugout canoe was made by a slash and burning method, see how fish were caught and smoked over an open fire.
The English settlement depicts the camp of the Englishmen. Staff members dressed in Elizabethan costume are on hand to demonstrate woodworking, ironwork, and cooking. They explain the life of the Queen’s soldiers and answer questions, all with an English accent.
The highlight of the self-guided tour is boarding the Elizabeth II, a replica of a sixteenth century merchant ship like one that brought the colonists across the Atlantic. Sailors, again dressed in period garb, are on hand to answer any questions about the ship and its voyages.
Festival Park also has an art gallery, museum, and a museum store. An outdoor amphitheater has a year around schedule of events including music, dance, plays and opera.
Click to learn what else the park has to offer, including a schedule of events.
- Roanoke Island Festival Park: Official Web site
5 miles from Nags Head, NC.The interactive attraction celebrates the first English settlement in America. See the 16th century representative ship the Elizabeth II.