By Jan Ross, director of marketing and public relations, Kalmar Nyckel Foundation
Have you ever visited Fort Christina National Historic Landmark on Wilmington’s historic riverfront? As one of seven sites that make up First State National Historical Park, this green space offers visitors access to one of the cornerstones of Delaware history with an expanded schedule of activities from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends. As summer arrives, this landmark is staffed by guides who offer free interpretive tours to the public. Children can earn Junior Ranger badges too.
This special heritage site marks the approximate location where a group of Swedish and Finnish colonists from the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip landed on a natural wharf of “blue rocks” in 1638. It was here that the first Swedish settlement in America began—the first permanent European settlement in Delaware.
Located at 1110 E. Seventh St. in Wilmington, Del., next to the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation and Copeland Maritime Center, Fort Christina will be open between May 25 and September 2 on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Sundays from 12:00 to 4:00 pm (closed on July 4). Site hours and activities are supported by a partnership between the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, First State National Historical Park and the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. Admission is free to all visitors.
The Wilmington Pirate Festival returns on Saturday, June 29, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with pirate-themed games and activities at Fort Christina and the Kalmar Nyckel’s campus and Copeland Maritime Center. Ship tours, pirate and colonial demonstrations, live music, face painting, food and beverages are part of this free family festival. The event is open to the public with free parking. Fees are charged for some activities.
Fort Christina will host First Saturday celebrations open to the public. On July 6, Celebrate Sweden will mark the founding of the colony of New Sweden (now Delaware) and the anniversary of the site as a park. August will bring Celebrate National Park Service on Saturday, August 3 in recognition of the anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service. Educational tours and a variety of activities will be posted at www.KalmarNyckel.org and at www.nps.gov/frst/planyourvisit/calendar.htm as they are announced.
In 2016, Fort Christina re-opened as one of several statewide sites of First State National Historical Park and part of a larger effort to create a first class historical and cultural destination on Wilmington’s East Seventh Street peninsula. The goal is to integrate and develop the historical and cultural attractions of the Kalmar Nyckel shipyard campus, Fort Christina, Old Swedes Church and the Hendrickson House, along with the Christina River water taxi and other Riverfront attractions. Organizations working to make this dream a reality include the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, the National Park Service, Old Swedes Foundation and the Riverfront Development Corporation.
Fort Christina National Historic Landmark is a property of the State of Delaware administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.