Gabriel Robinson, nine, enjoys getting his face painted by his mom, Rachael, as part of the annual Natal Day festivities in Annapolis Royal. This weekend-long event has lots of family-friendly activities that are worth checking out! - Submitted
“Mommy! When can we go to the place with the cannons again?” says my six-year-old son, Thomas. I know exactly what he's talking about because I feel the same way.
The Annapolis Royal Natal Day celebrations have been part of our family’s traditions for over 30 years. It started when we were children. Every year, on the first Sunday in August, we would drive to Annapolis Royal. We would always have a picnic in the Valleyview Park in Bridgetown at the same spot with the same menu, before heading to watch the Sunset Ceremony. We now carry on the tradition with our kids and I am so glad to see it a highlight for them too!
Natal Day weekend is one of the annual festivals in Annapolis Royal, consisting of four days of fun-filled activities for all ages.
Rachael Robinson, Annapolis Royal, has also been participating in the Natal Day festivities for over 25 years. She now takes here two sons, Gabriel, nine, and Owen, seven.
“We make the parade and the fireworks our priorities,” says Robinson.
“The parade is great for families, especially if you have children who love fire trucks. There are many floats, usually people tossing out candy and freezies and sometimes people with water guns soaking the crowds. Gabe loves this and will beg to be squirted!”
The fireworks are wonderful if children can stay up late (they usually start around 10 p.m.). Gabe says the fireworks are the best part of the festival as he does get to stay up late!
“We usually head to the boardwalk to watch the fireworks,” says Robinson, “although a lot of people stay at Fort Anne after the Sunset Ceremony.”
The end of the wharf is also a good viewpoint. Some people like to go to Granville Ferry, find a place to park and watch from that side of the river.
Robinson also says the annual encampment at Fort Anne is fun to walk around. Here, you can see and experience an 18th century military camp as the 84th Regiment of Foot 2nd Battalion (Royal Highland Emigrants) create a vivid picture of the conditions of 18th century military life.
Other family-friendly events include a family dance at the market square to kick off events Friday night, a teddy bear tea at the library, kids’ activities at the Historic Gardens, a pancake breakfast at the fire hall, a children's parade around the nursing home, and more.
“There are so many great things for families to do,” says Robinson, “and that's not even counting the regular activities there are around Annapolis Royal, which always feel more festive on Natal Day weekend!”
Our family’s favourite part is the Sunset Ceremony Sunday evening, put on by the military cadets. There is a marching band, a parade of the flags and firing of cannons and blank rifles. Robinson fears the ceremony might be dull for younger kids, but ours have always enjoyed it. One thing for certain is that it’s loud with the gunfire and it may scare some youngsters. Bring a pair of ear protectors for any timid or young children.
“If you go to the ceremony, bring a jacket, bug spray and something to sit on at the fort, like a blanket or lawn chairs,” says Robinson.
The weekend isn't complete without a visit to the ‘cool bus’, she adds. She is referring to the Lion's Club canteen, which is inside a bus parked outside Fort Anne.
“Or at least get some mini-donuts outside of the town hall!” she says.
A full schedule of events will be available on the Annapolis Royal website.
Laura Churchill Duke looks forward to going to the Natal Day festivities every year. Her husband places bets on who will become Queen Annapolis Royal while her boys roll down the embankments at Fort Anne. Everyone is happy!