From the smallest towns to the biggest cities, local fairs and festivals offer charm and traditions. Dover's rich history and culture include many traditions, including the annual Dover Days Festival.
Dover Days 2023
This May will mark the 90th anniversary of the Dover Days Festival. Dover Days 2023 will span two days, kicking off on the evening of Friday, May 5, and continuing on Saturday, May 6, from 9 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. The Dover Days Festival celebrates Delaware culture and heritage, incorporating Kent County and state history, art and local business while asking citizens and visitors to join the fun.
This annual event offers fun activities for all ages — perfect for a family outing or a meeting with friends. With various attractions, everyone in your group can find something they'll love and remember for years to come. Dover Days is free for all participants.
The Dover Days Festival will continue as planned, regardless of the weather. Come ready with your friends and family in rain or shine!
This Year's Dover Days Activities and Events
Dover Days has diverse offerings, helping attract people from across the state and beyond. Many events pay homage to Delaware's rich history, like being the first state in the United States. Others celebrate Delaware and Dover's unique culture, bringing Amish and colonial elements into the fun.
The Dover Days Kickoff
Friday, May 5, launches the Dover Days Festival. This portion of the festival will begin at 5 p.m. and continue through 9 p.m. During this period, visitors can enjoy a wide range of food trucks from local vendors, giving you a taste of Kent County's best food. You can also join historical walking tours, where locals will take groups through the city and highlight its rich history.
At dusk, visitors can relax and watch a firework show lighting up the Dover sky in vibrant colors.
The Dover Days Parade
The Dover Days Parade showcases Delaware's history and culture with displays and groups planned by local organizations and businesses. Many participants dress up in fun costumes or as historical figures to further engage the audience and draw attention to themselves. Some past organizations include Kent County firefighters on fire trucks and local elementary schools with student representatives.
The parade will work through the city, starting at 9:15 a.m.
Traditional Maypole Dancing
Maypoles are a traditional way to celebrate the coming of spring. While maypole dances traditionally happen on May 1, Dover welcomes spring a few days later during the Dover Days Festival. You can participate in a traditional maypole dance by holding a ribbon while twirling around a decorated floral pole. As the ribbons twist around the pole, it will make a beautiful, multicolored wrap that showcases spring's vibrance.
Many participants wear colonial clothes for the maypole dance. The outfits bring an interactive element to the activity, transporting participants and observers back through time.
Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides
Get an overlook of Dover with Dover Days' hot air balloon rides. These rides are perfect for people who love relaxing and enjoying the view. Because a tether connects each balloon to the ground, you can drift comfortably without moving, allowing your group to take in the sights of Dover.
Visitors can get closer to Dover's colonial history with historical reenactments. Volunteers will dress up as famous historical figures, speaking about significant events that took place in Delaware, Kent County and Dover. Many performers have authentic props, giving visitors more insight into life in colonial and revolutionary Dover.
The Dover Days Festival brings history further to life with the historical artisan village and demonstrations. Costumed volunteers will sell authentic items from the colonial and revolutionary periods while hosting demonstrations on how to make items with tools from that time. This portion of the festival is perfect for visitors who love history.
If you get hungry during the festival, no worries! Dover Days attracts a diverse selection of local food vendors to feed visitors. On Friday and Saturday, vendors will sell delicious food that can satiate any palate, so everyone in the family can find something they'll love. You might even discover your next favorite dish.
In addition to food, you can also find local craft vendors with stalls on Saturday of the Dover Days Festival. Local artisans will show off their skills with quality products that can make a lovely addition to your home or souvenir from your travels to Dover. You might even find the perfect gift for a loved one to cherish.
Like the food vendors, each artisan will offer a different trade, creating a diverse array of goods to explore and purchase.
Historic Downtown Dover
While many come to Dover specifically for the Dover Days Festival, Dover's historic downtown offers many activities for the whole family, making it perfect for an extended stay. The beautiful colonial-style brick buildings create a scenic backdrop for anyone who loves to meander and explore the city, which you can also enjoy throughout the festival. Here are some other activities you can consider during your visit to Dover.
- Old State House: Located on the Green in historic downtown Dover, the Old State House served as the first state's capitol from 1791 to 1933. Now, the building is a free museum where visitors can leave contemporary times behind and step into the past. Tours are available for anyone who wants to learn more about the building, its significance and Delaware's history.
- Air Mobility Command Museum: This museum celebrates the Air Force with its collection of planes and aircraft that visitors can explore. Many planes are open for visitors to view the cockpit for a unique close-up of these incredible machines. Air Force Two, the U.S. Vice President's aircraft, is also here for viewing.
- Johnson Victrola Museum: If you want to see the origin place of innovation and change, you must visit the Johnson Victrola Museum. This site walks visitors through the history of the Victor Talking Machine Company, which produced phonograph records. Founded by Delaware citizen Eldridge Reeves Johnson, the company's operations changed the recording industry and technology.
With so much to do and learn in downtown Dover, you can continue celebrating Delaware's long history and culture in its historic district and many museums.
Download Our Visitor Guide
Delaware's Quaint Villages are full of history, events and activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy and participate in. Whether you're a foodie or a history buff, Dover and its surrounding villages have something perfect for your interests.
Download our visitor guide today to discover more ways to explore Delaware's Quaint Villages.