Sherlock Holmes Weekend is held each spring and fall in Cape May, New Jersey. This year, it takes place from October 14 to 16. Sherlock Holmes Weekend promises visitors a murder-party-style weekend of intrigue, mystery-solving, and live performances. That’s not all! Visitors to this event get to see an original Sherlock Holmes story — written by different writers — played out in front of them. Sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), this bi-annual event delights visitors and locals alike from Friday through Sunday.
History of Sherlock Holmes Weekend
When Scottish writer, Arthur Conan Doyle, began writing detective fiction, the world was largely unused to crime capers. There were prolific writers — Edgar Allan Poe, Émile Gaboriau, among others — whose detective novels were enormously popular before Sherlock, but this popularity was only nascent at the time.
And so, Doyle began creating his detective novels, featuring a lone character solving crime with science and a magnifying glass — the very first writer (and character) to do so, ever. The inspiration behind the character, Sherlock Holmes, is often thought to be Doyle’s old teacher at the medical school of Edinburgh University, Dr. Joseph Bell. Dr. Bell would diagnose patients much like Holmes solved his cases, by deducing facts from their clothing, manner of speech, bearing, and general disposition. Doyle went on to dedicate a collection of short stories on his fictionalized detective, “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”’ to Dr. Bell.
A counter-theory suggests that Holmes might have been inspired by something else — namely, a sensational London case where a London baker went missing. The audience favoring this theory cites that the real-life police were helped by a professional ‘consulting detective,’ a term later used to describe Holmes in Doyle’s stories. There are still others who cite books, popular stories, etc., as the catalyst that sparked the idea of Holmes in Doyle’s mind. The author himself was never forthcoming about his inspiration, choosing to take this secret to his grave.
Whatever and whomever the muse behind this fictional detective, the world (including us) is very thankful to have a Sherlock Holmes. And we prove it too, by making, then devouring countless Holmes-inspired shows, movies, plays, books, and events — more so than any other (human) detective ever before.
Sherlock Holmes Weekend timeline
Arthur Conan Doyle introduces Holmes in “A Study in Scarlet,” which is published in “Beeton’s Christmas Annual;” unfortunately, the public interest is limited, at least until Holme's second appearance and the rest is history.
Doyle claims Holmes distracts him from better things and tries to kill him off; the public protest is so intense that Doyle has to resurrect the detective.
This phrase is first used in a P. G. Wodehouse novel called “Psmith, Journalist,” and is never actually said by Holmes in the original set of novels and stories.
The U.K.-based Royal Society of Chemistry bestows a fellowship on Holmes via a real person named Dr. John Watson in front of Holmes' statue outside the London underground station named Baker Street.
Sherlock Holmes Weekend FAQs
Who was Sherlock Holmes in real life?
Holmes was not a real person but a fictional private detective created by the author Arthur Conan Doyle.
Did Sherlock Holmes marry?
Holmes was never married in any of the original books.
Was Dr. Watson a real person?
Dr. Watson, Holmes’ foil, friend, and crime-solving partner was also a fictional character. People believe he might also have been based on a real person, although the author never revealed this secret.
Sherlock Holmes Weekend Activities
Visit the scene of the mystery
Go to Cape May for the weekend. Take a mini-vacation in New Jersey — explore the sights, play a little murder-mystery game, and enjoy the live performances.
Revisit the Sherlock Holmes series
Pick any Sherlock Holmes adaptation across the entertainment genres — movie, T.V., book, and even musical; you'll find a seriously large number to choose from either way. Or, go classic — pick up the original ‘Conan Doyle’ stories. Settle in for a wonderfully mysterious time with the world's favorite detective.
Create your Holmes-themed weekend
You can simply host a party for Holmes lovers like yourself, decorating with Holmes-themed paraphernalia. Or, you could get seriously creative and organize a murder mystery party inspired by the Cape May event.
5 Fun Facts About Holmes And His Creator
'Sherlock' almost didn't become his name
Doyle was to name his character Sherrinford but he eventually called him Sherlock after his favorite Nottingham cricketers, Sherwin and Shacklock.
U.S. fans VS U.K. fans
Technically speaking, American fans are 'Sherlockians,' and British ones are 'Holmesians.'
Holmes inspires other writers
From T.S. Eliot to John Le Carre, major writers across the centuries have attributed Holmes as the inspiration behind their writing; Dorothy Sayers even wrote a treatise trying to figure out how Watson's first name — which was John — changed to James.
Where is Holmes' home?
Every place Holmes has been to has been real except for his home (maybe); no one can find the real address to his apartment, 221B Baker Street, and this has become a bit of an urban legend among fans.
Appearance in World War II
Soviet soldiers were supposed to read one of Sherlock Holmes' stories, a British spy agency set up their base at Baker Street in London, and Hitler would watch “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (based on our detective).
Why We Love Sherlock Holmes Weekend
We find Holmes fascinating
Even years after the character first appeared, Holmes' sharp intellect, incredible deduction abilities, observational skills, and sometimes dry humor delight the world. So much so that we are still retelling his story.
We love mysteries
They offer us some measure of escape from our problems for a time and allow us to get absorbed in a rich environment of suspense. Plus, solving mysteries gives a heady rush of accomplishment as well.
It's the best kind of party game
Going on a trip to a different place, searching for clues with fellow sleuths, playing at being amateur detectives, and enjoying live mystery performances — who can say no to that? We certainly can’t.
Sherlock Holmes Weekend dates