Britain marks 400th anniversary of Mayflower voyage to U.S.

 Britain, on Wednesday marked the 400th anniversary of the voyage to the U.S. by the Mayflower pilgrims with a mainly online programme after larger events were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mayflower sailing ship began its 66-day voyage from Plymouth in south-western England on Sept. 16, 1620, carrying more than 100 passengers and crew from England and the Dutch city of Leiden.

The colonists settled in what is now the U.S. state of Massachusetts after bad weather and other troubles diverted then from their original destination of Virginia.

The annual U.S. Thanksgiving Day marks a feast held in 1621 with settlers and Wampanoag native Americans.

Mayflower 400 organisers said Wednesday’s anniversary offered an opportunity to “explore all aspects of the story and the impact of the ship’s sailing through a diverse range of cultural events and projects.”

Events include an online discussion of the history of the Mayflower voyage, hosted by the BBC.

The premiere later Wednesday of “66 Days,” a multimedia musical produced by four composers from the London-based group nonclassical, will explore “journeys, migration and cultural identities” linked to the voyage.

A year of Mayflower 400 events is scheduled to culminate in a “four nation’s commemoration ceremony” involving Britain, the U.S., the Netherlands and the Wampanoag nation on July 11 next year.

Wampanoag representatives will “tell their side of this story in their own words for the first time, having been censored or not included in previous anniversaries,” the organisers said.

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