Lewes attractions await History Book Festival visitors Sept. 27-29

September 7, 2019

Visitors to Lewes’ Third Annual History Book Festival in late September will find themselves surrounded by history, but not just from the authors who will discuss their historical nonfiction and fiction works.

Settled by the Dutch in 1631 and known as the First Town in the First State, Lewes is home to an appealing historic district with architecture dating from the 17th century. Located where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Henlopen, the quaint downtown area features museums, hotels, shops and restaurants within walking distance of History Book Festival venues.

Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson will open the festival with a keynote address at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 27.

Some 20 best-selling or new and promising authors will discuss their books from 8:30 am. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28, followed by a gathering for presenters, audience members and volunteers at 4:30 p.m. at the Lewes Public Library. Authors and their audiences can engage and discuss their day at the festival.

Acclaimed novelist Alice Hoffman will present the festival’s closing address at 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 29.

Festival events take place in the Lewes Historic District at venues including Lewes Public Library, Rollins Community Center and Lewes History Museum, Bethel United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, Margaret H. Rollins School of Nursing at Beebe Healthcare, and Cape Henlopen High School.

A free shuttle will run between venues throughout the day Sept. 28, also stopping across from the Hotel Rodney at Second and Market streets in downtown Lewes. The shuttle is provided by the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty, and the Delaware River and Bay Authority.

Free parking for festival attendees is available Sept. 28 at the Bethel United Methodist Church lots at 4th and Market streets; the Beebe Healthcare campus at 424 Savannah Road; the Lewes Public Library at 111 Adams Ave.; and the Lewes History Museum at the Margaret H. Rollins Community Center, 101 Adams Ave. On-street parking also is available throughout Lewes. At metered spaces, payment is required between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

During the festival’s lunch break, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Sept. 28, visitors can dine at nearby restaurants, use the break room at the Rollins School of Nursing or patronize food trucks near the Lewes Public Library. A tent with tables and chairs will be set up behind the library. Limited seating also will be available inside the library for those who wish to eat indoors.

Festival attendees interested in area history can visit the Zwaanendael Museum at 102 Kings Highway. Modeled on the former City Hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, the museum serves as a showcase for the Lewes area’s maritime, military and social history. For more information, call 302-645-1148.

The Lewes History Museum is located at one of the History Book Festival’s venues – the Margaret H. Rollins Community Center. The museum is operated by the Lewes Historical Society, which maintains several historic structures in town. Properties include an 1898 building at 302 Savannah Road which now serves as a museum store featuring iconic Lewes products, books and apparel, as well as locally sourced art, food and crafts. For more information, go to

For information on local businesses, shops and restaurants, the Lewes Chamber of Commerce is a handy resource. The chamber’s visitor center at 120 Kings Highway is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday. For more information, go to

For the full roster of 2019 festival authors, summaries of each book, schedules and presentation venues, go to

All events except the keynote and closing addresses are free.

Books featured in the festival are available for purchase at each presentation. Books may be purchased in advance at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach and at Biblion in Lewes. In addition, History Book Festival titles may be borrowed through the Delaware Public Library system as they are published.

The History Book Festival is the first and only book festival in the United States devoted exclusively to history. Led by a volunteer board and funded in part by tax-deductible contributions through the Greater Lewes Foundation, the festival’s organizers believe in the power of history, literature and civil dialogue to influence the future for the better. For more information, or to purchase tickets for the keynote and closing addresses, go to