Sunderland is the start host port for The Tall Ships Races 2018

(Courtesy and evening chronicle)

Sunderland will welcome an international fleet of over 80 Tall Ships in summer 2018. The Tall Ships Sunderland four-day event is expected to attract over 1.5million visitors to the city with a stunning display on the banks of the River Wear and the Port of Sunderland. Tall Ships Sunderland will take place from July 11 to July 14, 2018.

The majestic vessels will congregate in the River Wear and Port of Sunderland as they prepare to embark on a spectacular race covering over three hundred nautical miles to Esbjerg in Denmark, a cruise in company to Norway, calling at the coastal city of Stavanger, then undertaking the final leg of the 2018 Races to the beautiful city of Harlingen in the Netherlands.

In total they will cover more than one thousand nautical miles over three weeks, giving thousands of young people a thrilling sail training experience, developing new skills, sharing fantastic memories and making friendships that will last a lifetime.

The event

As the start host port for The Tall Ships Races 2018, Sunderland expects to welcome a fleet of Tall Ships that will travel from all corners of the globe to reach the city and share in the celebrations. The beautiful vessels are themselves centre stage at this breathtaking event, opening to allow free public access at set times on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the event.

A captivating programme of entertainment and cultural activity will be delivered across the city over four days, stretching from Port of Sunderland, a hidden gem at the heart of maritime activity in the city, over to the North banks of the River Wear, home to University of Sunderland and the award-winning National Glass Centre and also incorporating the twin coastal resorts of Roker and Seaburn, with beach sporting activities and spectacular viewing points as the ships arrive and depart.

Each day will offer something different, keeping the crowds entertained and ensuring that The Tall Ships Races 2018 in Sunderland remains a cherished memory in the minds of visitors for many years to come.

A spectacle from start to finish


Wednesday 11 July

The ships will arrive by lunchtime – some may arrive earlier – making spectacular viewing from the seafront and around the quaysides of the River Wear. The entertainment and festivities will commence across the event site and ships crews will enjoy inter-ship sporting activities. Ships will open at specific times for visitors to explore onboard and discover more about these magnificent giants of the sea.

Thursday 12 July

The programme of culture and entertainment for event visitors continues. The ships’ crews will enjoy a morning of sport and culture before the upbeat Crew Parade weaves through the city from the Burdon Road, along Fawcett Street, crossing Wearmouth Bridge and making its way noisily down towards Event Zone C, University of Sunderland St Peter’s Campus and bringing a true international carnival atmosphere to the streets. The Parade is intended to thank the host port for their hospitality and everyone is welcome to come along and join the celebrations. The Parade will conclude with a Prize-Giving Ceremony at St Peter’s Campus with prizes being awarded to ships and individuals for a range of disciplines and achievements.

Friday 13 July

The festivities will continue across the city and a full programme of entertainment will ensure that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Official Race business starts to get serious as the Captains receive their briefing from Sail Training International officials as they set their sights to Esbjerg. The sail trainees that are about to participate in the Race arrive to join their ships.

Saturday 14 July

The ships will be closed for public access as they make final preparations for the Races. There’ll be lots to see in the Port of Sunderland and along the river banks as the ships get ready to leave. They will undock over the course of the afternoon and move out into the North Sea to partake in a stunning Parade of Sail, sailing northwards and on to their next destination. The coastal resorts of Roker and Seaburn will provide fabulous viewing points as the city bids a fond farewell to the ships. The entertainment will not stop when the ships leave, with revelries and programmed events continuing well into the evening as the city reflects and celebrates a fantastic few days…

Where to see them

Visiting ships will be berthed on both the North and South side of the River near the National Glass Centre on Manor Quay with some of the largest vessels moored on the opposite bank at Corporation Quay. Hudson Dock within the port will also be open to the public so that everyone can get up close and, in many cases, get on-board. Sunderland City Council’s Head of Events Victoria French said: “With many ships signed up so far and the opportunity to get a few more, this is shaping up to be a huge event. “By including quays on the north side of the river and also the west side of Hudson Dock we will be able to host everything from crew activities and visitor entertainment to access to ships and even the opportunity to take a sailing trip on one of these beautiful vessels.”

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