Grab yer sword and don an eye patch; everyone is a pirate during this 11-day mid-August festival with real-life ships that invade Alexandria Bay, New York, to the roar of muskets and cannons. Each Saturday afternoon, hearty villagers defend The Bay from invading pirates on ships. The gunfire gives way to swashbuckling sword fights by costumed professionals who clash along the water in front of thousands of onlookers.

Once the pirates “win” and take over town, everyone is invited to march into the downtown for the festivities. Be sure to bring your best pirate gear or pick up some from the many downtown shops. Everyone is a pirate during Pirates Days.

The entire community gets in the act, with live music shows throughout the village along with staged sword fights and activities including family treasure digs, raft races, themed boat cruises and specials at restaurants, taverns and craft beverage stops.

Pirates Days is a long tradition in The Bay to celebrate the area’s famous pirate Bill Johnston, who sank a British steamship in 1838 and later hid among the islands trying to evade capture before later winning the sympathies and being named keeper of nearby Rock Island Lighthouse, which is open for touring spring through fall.