The Royal Naval Dockyard is simply called Dockyard by locals. Once known as the “Gibraltar of the West,” Britain’s largest naval base outside the United Kingdom is now filled with adventure, local culture and luxury. West End Development Corporation (WEDCO) has been guiding the development of Dockyard since 1982 and strives to continually develop the area as a world-class destination built proudly on the past, with a clear view of the future. The challenge for most visitors is choosing what to do first, as there is always a variety of events and amenities for adults and families available both day and night. For up-to-date event and amenity details, please visit The Royal Naval Dockyard’s website or Facebook page. (234-1709; dockyardbermuda.com)
Home of the 35th America’s Cup
In May, the best sailors in the world convene in Dockyard for the 35th America’s Cup, presented by Louis Vuitton. The pinnacle of international sailing, the America’s Cup has generated intense excitement and fierce rivalries for more than 160 years. Now, for the first time, this premier event takes place in Bermuda, an island founded on a legacy of sailing.
A nine-acre “island” has been created at Dockyard and provides the host venue for what is going to be “the best in the history of the sailing race event,” according to Sir Russell Coutts, the CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority.
This new addition to Bermuda’s landmass embraces the America’s Cup Event Village and features two team bases, a pit row, food and beverage venues, entertainment and concerts. It also provides prime viewing for the sleek, AC45F racing catamarans competing for the celebrated “Auld Mug,” the affectionate nickname for the ornate silver “cup” of America’s Cup. It is not only the oldest trophy in international sport; it predates the modern Olympic Games by 45 years and is yachting’s biggest prize.
These fast, foiling “cats” are a far cry from the stately schooners that competed in the first Cup race in England, won by the New York Yacht Club entry, the yacht America.
Thus began a winning streak that saw the cup remain in U.S. hands for 132 years, hence the cup’s familiar title, “The America’s Cup,” named for the yacht, not the nation.
Racing in Bermuda’s Great Sound starts with the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers on May 26, 2017. Six teams from the U.S., U.K., Japan, New Zealand, France and Sweden compete in heats throughout several competitive weeks to be the successor to face defending champions, ORACLE TEAM USA, in the 35th America’s Cup Match beginning on June 17, 2017. For more information on the America’s Cup, visit acbda.bm.
Dive into History
After losing the American War of Independence in 1783, and with no American ports at their disposal, Britain sought a port in the mid-Atlantic, between Halifax and the West Indies, from which it could face off America and France and also easily access its interests in the Caribbean. Bermuda’s central geographic position, as you might guess, made it a prime choice.
In 1809, slaves laid the first local stones that would become The Royal Naval Dockyard’s foundation; and convicts from Britain followed as the next wave of labourers after emancipation. From the War of 1812 until just after World War II, the Royal Naval Dockyard and the base played an integral role in strategic defence for Britain. It wasn’t until 1951 that the Royal Navy officially pulled out from Bermuda. And in the first years after the Bermuda government purchased Dockyard in 1953, the area saw little use and began to fall into disrepair. But soon enough, plans were set into motion to preserve Dockyard as a public gathering ground and park.
Immerse yourself in 500 years of history at the National Museum of Bermuda, housed within the island’s largest fort. The 15-acre property includes British military buildings of the Keep citadel and the award-winning Commissioner’s House. Inside its historic limestone walls, learn about Bermuda’s cultural links with the West Indies and the Azores, trans-Atlantic slavery, and the island’s defense through two World Wars. Marvel at local artist Graham Foster’s 1,000-square-foot mural of Bermuda history and other maritime art. Explore the collection of small local watercraft and Shipwreck Island: Sunken Clues to Bermuda’s Past, an exhibit showcasing Spanish gold, colonial trade goods and other artefacts recovered from local shipwrecks. Kids will love the whimsical Museum Playground & Playhouse, complete with maritime interactives and a 70-foot moray eel. Open April through November from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admission 4 p.m.); December through March from 10 a.m.to 5 p.m. (last admission at 4 p.m.). Adults, $15; seniors, $12; free for children under 16. (234-1418, 234-1333; nmb.bm)
One of the most entertaining ways to learn about Dockyard’s fascinating history is the free Historical Reenactment and Walking Tour. Experience this amazing look into the past. For specific dates and times, visit dockyardbermuda.com.
From festive holiday gatherings in December to regularly scheduled concerts, parties and family-friendly events during the summer months, there is always something happening in Dockyard. The events draw out locals as much as they do visitors, offering a great chance to mingle with Bermudians. The Royal Naval Dockyard’s website, dockyardbermuda.com, is the spot to check for updates on current happenings. But whether you plan to visit during one of the big annual to-dos or just pop by on a whim, you can count on a world of activities and experiences to fill up your day. Also, stop by the Dockyard Visitor Information Centre, which is conveniently located in the gazebo adjacent to the cruise ship pier and bus and ferry stops. The visitor centre offers up-to-date information on Bermuda events, attractions, tours and transport. You can also pick up your public transportation passes for the buses and ferries. (296-9400)
Art Walk (FREE)
Explore The Royal Naval Dockyard through its resident artisans and historical architecture. Art began in Dockyard the minute the convicts arrived in the 19th century. Visit all of Dockyard’s local artists and learn about the stunning history along the way. The tour commences at the visitor’s centre and concludes at The Clocktower Mall.
Historical Reenactment Combined with Walking Tour (FREE)
Guests gather on the pier to start a journey dating back from 1863 to present day. The tour guide interacts with reenactment actors as you are led into the Victualling Yard for a Stand Still Skit followed by the rest of your walking tour, which finishes at The Clocktower Mall. Be entertained and educated on the historical significance of The Royal Naval Dockyard, then and now.
Taste of Bermuda (FREE)
Enjoy samples of locally produced food and beverages whilst experiencing local island music. From rum cakes to locally brewed beers and rum, there is something for every palette.
Bone Fish and Café Amici Nights
Whether you enjoy salsa, local bands, DJs or acoustic evenings, Bone
Fish and Café Amici will always have something for you. With daily evening entertainment, visitors can always enjoy good eats, cocktails
and local entertainment.
Calico Jack’s Pirate Fire Show
Interact with local pirates, be entertained by their fire performance and sip on pirate-inspired beverages. Keep your visit hot and fun on Calico Jack’s pirate ship!
Snorkel Park Beach Bonfires
Bring the family for a relaxed evening of roasting marshmallows over the open fire on the beach during sunset. Have a cocktail in hand whilst enjoying the sand between your toes and the family-friendly entertainment.
For current information on all events offered, dates and times, please visit dockyardbermuda.com/news-events.