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Festival Park, Manteo, NC

Updated on October 20, 2011
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Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Native American LodgeElizabeth IIElizabeth IIEnglish SettlementEnglish SoldierCeremonial Dance Circle
Native American Lodge
Native American Lodge
Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
English Settlement
English Settlement
English Soldier
English Soldier
Ceremonial Dance Circle
Ceremonial Dance Circle

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.


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    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Intrigue and interesting. Looks like the Native Americans knew how to build a good lodge.