Baltimore's Star-Spangled Summer Unveiled at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Summer to Offer Special Events, Exhibitions and New Programs to Honor the 200th Anniversary of the Writing of Our National Anthem

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 2:15pm

(BALTIMORE, MD) – April 29, 2014 –To honor the 200th anniversary of the writing of our national anthem, Baltimore is bringing American history to life through Star-Spangled Summer featuring Fort! Flag! Fire! at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and special events and exhibitions citywide from June 13 through September 1.   

A signature element of Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Summer is Fort! Flag! Fire! made possible through a partnership between Fort McHenry and Visit Baltimore.  The program, which kicks off June 28, combines three of the most engaging ways to experience Fort McHenry – tours of the historic star fort, hoisting of the grand 30-by-42-foot flag over the ramparts and cannon firing.  For a total immersion experience, guests visiting the fort Wednesday through Sunday will encounter living history participants dressed in the uniforms of the soldiers, sailors and civilians from the War of 1812; and there will be cannon firing, fife and drum concerts, cooking demonstrations and children’s activities. 

In addition to Fort McHenry, which is the birthplace of our national anthem, Baltimore features more than 10 sites with direct connections to the War of 1812. Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Banner Pass provides discounted admission to three key sites including Fort McHenry, the Maryland Historical Society and the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. For just $18.12 for adults, pass holders can stand on the ramparts of Fort McHenry, gaze out to the waters where Francis Scott Key penned our national anthem, view the original manuscript of Key’s poem and visit the home of flag maker Mary Pickersgill. 

Baltimore’s museums, attractions, hotels and restaurants have also banded together to paint the town red, white and blue with 1812-themed programs and offerings. The wide variety of events taking place ensures that everyone, from the seasoned history buff to a family looking for a fun activity, can celebrate the bicentennial.   

“After the success of Sailabration in 2012, we are thrilled to debut a summer-long calendar of events highlighting this historic moment that took place in Baltimore,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “Star-Spangled Summer provides residents and visitors an entire summer dedicated to remembering one of the most dramatic and important turning points in America’s fight for freedom.”  

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Maryland Science Center, American Visionary Art Museum and the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum are hosting summer exhibitions connected to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and the Fort McHenry Boat Tour and National Anthem Tour by Sea allow for historical experiences on the water. 

The Pride of Baltimore II will serve as America’s Star-Spangled Ambassador throughout the summer offering student education programs, interpretive dockside tours, on-water lectures, overnight guest crew passages, and experiential day sail opportunities. The Pride is also working with the Maryland Historical Society to showcase the hand-stitched, 30-by-42-foot Star-Spangled Banner flag in ports throughout the state. 

This summer’s tribute will culminate September 10-16 with Star-Spangled Spectacular, a free celebration featuring living history demonstrations, tall ships, Navy gray hulls and a Blue Angels’ air show.  Events will crescendo September 13 with a star-studded patriotic concert and extraordinary fireworks display over Fort McHenry and the Baltimore harbor.  

Visitors planning a trip to Baltimore will find schedules, hotel packages, restaurant deals and more online at

About Visit Baltimore: Visit Baltimore – the official sales and marketing organization for Baltimore that generates economic benefits for stakeholders through the attraction of convention, group and leisure visitors. For more information, visit

About Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine:  During the Battle of Baltimore, September 13 – 14, 1814, the valiant defense of the star-shaped Fort McHenry against the might of the British navy inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  The 15 broad stripes and 15 bright stars still fly over the Fort twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The Fort was used continuously in a variety of ways through WWII.  Most famous as the birthplace of our National Anthem, many special activities are planned at the Fort in 2014 to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, the United States’ second war for independence.  For more information visit Facebook: Twitter: @FtMcHenryNP



 Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Summer Events and Exhibitions 


Family of Flagmakers: The Women Who Created the Star-Spangled Banner
Star-Spangled Banner Flag House 
This exhibit focuses on the life of Mary Pickersgill, maker of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag; her family; her household; and her neighborhood.  “Family of Flagmakers” includes several interactive areas including a station where you can measure yourself against the two-foot stars, touch reproduction fabric, and attempt to hoist the flag's weight.

Defense of the Nation: Maryland in the War of 1812
Baltimore Visitor Center
May 1 – September 1, 2014 
This traveling exhibition offers the opportunity to experience the crucial Chesapeake Campaign of the War of 1812. Though some call the War of 1812 “America’s Forgotten War,” this exhibition shows why the events that took place 200 years ago continue to inspire and enlighten Americans.

For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People
Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture
May 17, 2014 – February 28, 2015
Few people realize that Grace Wisher, a young African American indentured servant in Mary Pickersgill’s household, worked on the flag that became a national symbol. Wisher’s contribution to American history will be honored with this major exhibition that is an investigation into the history and representation of the U.S. flag as an icon. “For Whom It Stands” features more than 75 works of art, artifacts, documents and photographs.

Star-Spangled Banner: Anthem of Liberty
Maryland Science Center
Beginning June 14, 2014 
This IMAX film explores the origins of the War of 1812 – the British torching of Washington, D.C., the White House and Capital and the bombardment of Fort McHenry.

A Very Visionary Star-Spangled Sidewalk
American Visionary Art Museum
Through September 2014
A free, outdoor art celebration depicting our nation’s beloved national anthem in an engaging, family-fun and informative format playfully welcomes both visitor feet and wheelchairs into an up-close and personal viewing experience – 520 linear feet of sidewalk transformed into a visually creative interpretation, line by line, of our national anthem.

The Star-Spangled Banner. A Patriotic Song.
Maryland Historical Society
The Maryland Historical Society is home to the oldest known surviving manuscript of Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Along with this national icon, the Star-Spangled Banner Gallery showcases paintings and artifacts that tell the story of the brave defenders of Baltimore who fought to protect our country from the British. Currently on view is “The Star-Spangled Banner. A Patriotic Song.” Published by Carr Music Store in Baltimore in 1814, it is one of the few remaining copies of the first edition of the poem set to music we know as our national anthem.

“O” Say Can You See: The Star Spangled Banner in Sports 
Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum
The Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum features a 3-D film that reveals the genesis of our national anthem being played at sporting events throughout America. The song has a sporting origin dating back to the first game of the 1918 baseball World Series. The short film, screened on an exciting, new projection technology, also celebrates the anthem’s place in sports by featuring a composite playing of the song pulled from dozens of renditions dating from the 1930s to the present.

Special Events

Bicentennial Fife and Drum Muster
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
June 28, 2014
The patriotic summer kicks off with over 60 musicians performing at an afternoon Tattoo ceremony. Participants include units from Fort George, Crown Forces, Fort McHenry and others.

Grand July 4th Celebration
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
July 4, 2014
Enjoy the Fourth of July with flag talks; cannon-firing; parade through Federal Hill; and a celebration of the nation’s birthday the early-Republic way with toasting, songs and the public reading of the Declaration of Independence at 3 p.m.

Military Tattoo Ceremonies
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
July 5 and August 2, 2014
Each evening ceremony features a branch of service – Army, Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps. Precision drill, music and living history make each program unique and memorable.

Defenders’ Day at Clifton Mansion 
Clifton Mansion
August 9, 2014 
Clifton Mansion is one of the few remaining homes in Baltimore City of an officer in the War of 1812. At this year’s Defenders’ Day, visitors will “meet” Captain Henry Thompson; enjoy tours; and sample the food, music and games of the early 1800s.

Star-Spangled Spectacular 
Inner Harbor
September 10-16, 2014
Baltimore is the birthplace of the national anthem and the focal point in the celebration of its 200th anniversary in 2014. The commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 will culminate with Star-Spangled Spectacular, a free celebration featuring living history demonstrations, fireworks, the Blue Angels’ air show, naval ships and special commemorative events.

Ongoing Activities

National Anthem Tour by Sea
Inner Harbor, Light Street Finger Piers
Starting May 9 
The narrated 60-minute cruise celebrates the War of 1812 bicentennial. Guests will learn the story of the War of 1812 in Maryland and the state’s pivotal role in securing America’s independence and how our nation got two of its most enduring icons – the national anthem and the flag.

Fort McHenry Boat Tour
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Daily, May 24 - September 30
Experience the fort from the water on this lively 35-minute audio tour. The boat tour provides a unique perspective through the eyes of Francis Scott Key’s experience in the hours leading up to writing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The tour will depart from the fort on the hour from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Fort! Flag! Fire!
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Daily, July-August
Fort McHenry will have special daily programming to engage visitors throughout the summer including the raising of the full-sized 30-by-42-foot flag, ranger-led programs, a robust living history program, ongoing children’s activities and more.

O’er the Ramparts
Flights depart from Tipton Airport
Through November 30, 2014
Enjoy a helicopter ride over Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, the birthplace of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” in honor of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. While circling the fort, you’ll see Federal Hill, marinas and the spectacular Baltimore Inner Harbor skyline.


Star-Spangled Banner Pass
Adult: $18.12; seniors (55+) and military: $18.00; young adults (ages 16-18): $17.75; child and student (ages 7-15): $9.75; under 7: free

Fort! Flag! Fire! Schedule – June 28 – September 1, 2014 at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Ranger Programs (seven days a week)

10:15 a.m. – “Hoist the Colors! Flag-Raising at Fort McHenry”
Visitors join the park ranger to help raise the grand 30-by-42-foot Star-Spangled Banner flag over the ramparts of the historic fort.  

11:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. – The “Keynote” Story!
Learn the story of Francis Scott Key seeing the Star-Spangled Banner “by dawn’s early light.” In this interactive program, visitors move model ships, figures of British soldiers and small flags as the ranger tells the story of the events leading up to the writing of our national anthem.

12:15 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m. – “Broad Stripes and Bright Stars!”
In this hands-on ranger talk, visitors unroll the full-sized replica Star-Spangled Banner flag. Experience 30-by-42- feet of “pure awesome” by unrolling the large flag on the exact site where it flew in 1814.  

2:15 p.m. “The Battle of Baltimore and Birth of the Anthem”
Discover what it was like to be a defender at the fort in 1814 by becoming a member of the gun crew. Visitors will learn why the British wanted to take Baltimore and then will be “drafted” into the militia. The talk concludes with visitors standing on the fort’s gun deck looking downriver to the location of Key’s ship and the British fleet.

2:15 p.m. History’s “Wildcard Weekend!”  (Saturdays and Sundays only)
In history’s “wildcards” of the famous and infamous, visitors may meet one of the well-known characters from 1814. This grab-bag of history includes: Francis Scott Key; Mary Pickersgill, who made the large flag; Major George Armistead, who commanded Fort McHenry; a British soldier from the 4th Regiment of Foot; and Dr. William Beanes, who was indirectly responsible for Francis Scott Key writing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

5:15 p.m. “Lower the Colors” 
The American flag flies 24 hours a day by presidential proclamation at Fort McHenry. Join the ranger for a flag change as the 1814-style American flag is changed to the modern one. “Taps” is ceremoniously played at the conclusion of the program. 

Living History Programs (Wednesday through Sunday only)

11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  “A Blast from the Past!”
Soldiers and sailors muster on the gun deck to load and fire the fort’s great guns. Learn why the British ships turned and sailed away the morning after the battle, and see the cannon-crew in action. If you like smoke and noise, this demonstration is for you!

Noon and 3 p.m.  “Fun and Fury with Fife and Drum!”
Hear the thunderous beat of the drums and the inspiring fifes of the Fort McHenry Guard’s nationally recognized fife and drum corps. Dressed in their hallmark red uniforms of U.S. field music, the fifes and drums play original pieces from 1814. Hear about how music inspired the troops, regulated the duty day and reflected the ethnic diversity of the young United States. 

1 p.m. to 4 p.m. – “Citizens Stand!” and “Young Defenders!”
Discover how average Baltimoreans contributed to the city’s defense from the British in “Citizens Stand!” At this station, visitors will learn about flag-making, fashions from 1814, historic cooking and life on the home front.  Located near the “Citizens Stand” tent, “Young Defenders” presents children’s activities. At this station, the young and young at heart can drill with wooden muskets, help stitch a flag, engage in cutlass drill, try on a replica historic outfit or write a letter using the same types of quill and ink Francis Scott Key used when he wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner.”






Sara Warfield
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Christina Bortner
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