Whenever Tall Ships congregate it make for a spectacular sight and it's always time to think about partying. The Irish feel the same. This weekend they will welcome over 50 majestic Tall Ships from 12 countries, some 1,400 sail trainees and an anticipated 500,000 maritime, music and festival fans to the quays of Waterford City, better known for its crystal, for the biggest party of 2011.
Waterford Tall Ships Festival 2011
Waterford Festival celebrations
The Tall Ships Races, which first visited the Viking city in 2005, return this year from 30 June to 3 July with a world-class festival programme capturing the very best of Irish and international acts, street theatre, fireworks, music and food.
This family-friendly festival hosts a huge selection of free events including tall ship visits, concerts, street entertainment, educational events, fireworks and a world-class funfair.
Waterford Tall Ships in sailing mode
Former Roxy Music front man Bryan Ferry (30 June), the Waterboys (1 July) and the Sharon Shannon Show with guests (2 July) will each headline three free outdoor concerts.
A sumptuous food village will give visitors a real taste of Waterford and an exciting crafts village will showcase the very best of Irish craft.
The event includes a Crews Parade on the afternoon 1 July that will feature Tall Ships crew members from all over the world making their way through the streets in song and dance.
On their departure from Waterford (3 July) the tall ships will provide a Parade of Sail, one of the most spectacular sights on the world’s oceans, before heading out the mouth of the harbour between Dunmore East and Hook Head to the west coast of Scotland on the first leg of the Tall Ships Race.
Situated in south-east Ireland 98 miles from Dublin, the Irish capital, Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland with a maritime tradition dating back almost 11 centuries to 914AD when a fleet of Viking warships sailed up the River Suir.
Famous throughout the world for its hand-crafted Waterford Crystal, the city was founded almost 1,100 years ago.
The Tall Ships Festival is presented by Szczecin and organised by Sail Training International a charity established to harness sail training to develop and educate young people, regardless of nationality, culture, religion, gender or social background.
If you're anywhere near the venue this weekend, it will pay to join the party. For more information on the festival, http://www.waterfordtallshipsrace.ie/!click_here.