Belfast Tall Ship Festival – Newsletter no. 1

February 11th, 2015 by Guy

This is the full version with links to more info from our first monthly newsletter for businesses keen to keep an eye on the Festival, what’s on and what’s new, and opportunities to get involved.

New Ships confirmed for Belfast

New Ships confirmed for Belfast Tall Ships Festival

Latest ships sign up

39 Tall Ships are now signed up to come to Belfast this July, with more confirming daily. 10 of these are the big square riggers, 3 of the REALLY big variety! Many will be open to the public, and some used for public and private events.

Most of the ships that are being used for groups, corporate hospitality or ticketed events can be found on our website here. On the whole these tend to be the bigger ships, particularly the square triggers. Those are the archetypal Tall Ships most people will recognise – tall-masted ships, with graceful lines and square (well, rectangular) sails.

The organisers of the Race itself – which is the reason the ships are visiting – is Sail Training International (STI) and they keep a tally on their website of all the latest ships signed up. For a full list you can visit the site here. Press submit on the default selection of Tall Ships Races 2015, and the ships listed with a YES in the first column are coming to Belfast. We’ll tend to have a far prettier and more user-friendly list on our website here though so stick with us and we’ll keep you up to date! Some of the biggest ships to sign up so far include Statsraad Lehmkuhl, Sorlandet and Cristian Radich – all from Norway. Up to 80 ships are expected come July, we’ll keep you informed of the latest and most interesting sign ups monthly.

Festival Highlights

Fireworks at Belfast

Belfast Harbour Fireworks

On Saturday 4th July, a spectacular fireworks display will light up Belfast Harbour and the entire festival. That same day an aerobatic display will give festival goers another reason to crane their necks skywards.

Timings are still provisional but a start about 10.30pm is most likely to get the best dark sky that fireworks so love! The display will be a solid 20 minutes – that’s a long time in the world of fireworks, it’s set to be quite a display reflected in the waters of Belfast Harbour. For the best seat in the house you can book your own tall ship with us for a harbour cruise and prime position to watch the display. Individual members of the public can also buy Tall Ships event tickets for a night to remember on board one of the stars of the show.

Over the weekend there will be an aerobatic display by stunt planes. We don’t have full details of this yet but if 2009 is anything to go by, this will be worth seeing. Last time round one of our personal highlights was seeing a plane shoot through underneath one of the iconic Harland and Woolf cranes at top speed. Stay in touch for more details.

The ‘Parade of Sail’ takes place on the final day. This traditional choreographed spectacle involves all the ships leaving in unison forming an impressive parade of ships, sails being hoisted and heading out towards the start line for their race start. If you dream of the crack of sails over your head and want to experience the magical feeling of being in the fleet proper, you can get involved here too. We can organise for your party to be on board one of the ships, you’ll be fed and watered of course, and will be dropped at a convenient harbour in Belfast Lough before the ship casts off for good for its race. Tickets for members of the public are available too.

There are lots more highlights and things not to miss throughout the festival and we intend to focus on these further in subsequent newsletters. Make sure you are signed up!

Join the Party

It’s great to see the ships from the Festival site but even better to get on them. There will be many ‘open ships’ but you can go one step better and enjoy some hospitality on board, a BBQ with the fireworks, get out and sail in the Lough. Tickets and group bookings are selling now. Here we point you in the right direction:

We’ve created event packages for companies wishing to entertain staff and clients at the great event and we have also confirmed a number of ships who will hold similar events for members of the public who can buy tickets for themselves, friends and family. We can create anything for groups according to your needs so just talk to us about your requirements, but as a starter we fully recommend the packages below. Click the links for full info:

– A Tall Ships fireworks evening

– Tall Ship quayside BBQ lunch event

– Tall Ship sailing with lunch

– The grand Parade of Sail event

For individual tickets, check out our Gift Experiences page.

Where the Race Goes

Tall Ships Races

Tall Ships Race Map

Why are they coming? Apart from the big party they know Belfast will throw, the ships are here on serious business. On the 5th of July they will form a parade of sail, mustering together before racing all the way to Norway.

This is an international fleet with an international crew and this year, a distinctly northern feel. Scandinavia is the destination with Norway and Denmark, in that order, being the focus. As you’ll see on the map (yellow lines) the race takes a different format between Aalesund and Kristiansand. This is the ‘Cruise in Company’ – a non-competitive section where the fleet cruise together in a regatta to their next port. Here are the dates:

Ports and Race Dates

Belfast, UK – Thurs 2 to Sun 5 July

Race One

Aelsund, Norway – Weds 15 to Sat 18 July


Kristiansand, Norway – Sat 25 to Tues 28 July

Race Two

Aalborg, Denmark – Sat 1 to Tues 4 August

Of course, as Belfast is the start of the race, it’s also the start of the party and all the ships and crew will be fighting fit, excited, looking their best and ready to enjoy the hospitality of their first port!

Independence Day

Does your company have any US connections? Or just need an excuse for a party theme?! The Saturday – July 4th – is going to be a big day. Expected to be the busiest day at the Festival, there are certain to be a few celebrations connected to our American cousins’ big day.

If you’d like to theme your party on a tall ship for the day, why not get creative! We can supply American themed menus – how about hot dogs, ribs, smores even! Talk to us and we’ll talk to the ships, and our great caterers Posh Nosh about what we can do. Maybe some good old U-S-A style entertainment too… line dance anyone?

New Website Launch

New Website Launch!

New Tall Ships Website Live Soon!

Just launched between Belfast City Council and Visit Belfast – this will be where you will find more news about the Festival. We will collect the best of it though and add it to our newsletter to you if you sign up. We do also have our own pages on the new site too though and we’ll keep them updated also.

Finally a good old countdown…

Our good friends at Sea Monster Marketing have a live countdown to Belfast going on – here’s what it says… right… now! (As of 11.02.15)

New Website Launch

By Guy Wimpory (

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