Festival of Sail Coming to Port of San Diego for Labor Day Weekend

Contact: Marketing and Communications (619) 686-6222 - Published on .

DSC 0629A fleet of historic ships is setting sail along San Diego Bay for a weekend of maritime history, entertainment and adventure this Labor Day weekend.

The 2012 Festival of Sail, sponsored by the Port of San Diego, and hosted by the Maritime Museum of San Diego, is a four-day event that will feature public tours of 20 tall ships, cruises around the bay and live entertainment.

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"The Festival of Sail offers San Diego residents and tourists an opportunity to experience the rich maritime history of the Port of San Diego's waterfront," said Lou Smith, Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners.

The weekend kicks off with a free tall ship parade on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. At 11 a.m., 20 tall ships will be welcomed with several rounds of cannon fire as they sail into San Diego Bay.

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The Californian, a 145-foot long replica of the 1847 Revenue Cutter C.W. Lawrence, constructed locally at Spanish Landing Park, will lead the parade. Also sailing in the parade is the HMS Surprise, a 179-foot vessel that starred in 20th Century Fox's hit film Master and Commander and Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides. There will also be a total of nine visiting ships in the parade including the Spirit of Dana Point, which is a traditionally accurate replica of a 1770s privateer used during the American Revolution.

The opening parade can be best viewed from the Maritime Museum, Cabrillo National Monument, local restaurants on Shelter Island, Harbor Island and the North Embarcadero, as well as the Port of San Diego's Spanish Landing Park and Harbor Island Park.

The three-day event, the Festival of Sail, gets underway Friday, Aug. 31, 2012 and ends on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012 along the North Embarcadero between Ash and Grape Street (map).

The festival will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The public will be able to visit over 100 arts and craft vendors for free.

With paid admission, families will be able to tour each tall ship and learn its history. The festival will also feature a petting zoo for kids, as well as food and drinks and live entertainment.

  • Single day tickets for the Festival of Sail are $15 for adults and $10 for children (12 and under), seniors (62 and over) and military (valid identification required).
  • Multi-day passes for entrance to all four days of the festival are $25 for adults and $20 for children (12 and under), seniors (62 and over) and military (valid identification required).
  • Children five years old and under can attend the event free.

"All proceeds that are raised from the Festival of Sail go to the preservation of the vessels and educational programs," said Robyn Gallant, marketing manager for the Maritime Museum. "Keeping these ships alive and educating people on what role they played in history is an important aspect that the Maritime Museum provides for the community."

Souvenir passport booklets are given with ticket purchases and contain pictures and a brief biography of each vessel. Adventurers of all ages will have their passport stamped with each ship's unique emblem during tours.

Admission also includes a visit to the San Salvador construction site at Spanish Landing Park, one of the Port's 17 public parks. Guests can tour the construction site where master shipbuilders are creating a replica of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's 16th Century galleon.

Parking along the North Embarcadero will be limited. Festival visitors are urged to use public transportation and walk from the trolley or the bus to the event. For more information and ticket purchases, visit

The Port of San Diego is sponsoring the event through its Marketing Sponsorship Program. This program helps fund partnerships that provide direct benefit to the Port or to businesses on the Port tidelands.

The Festival of Sail supports the Port's strategic goals, which include contributing to the community by promoting commerce, navigation and recreation in the Port's five member cities.

About the Port:

The Port of San Diego is the fourth largest of the 11 ports in California. It was created by the state legislature in 1962. Since then, it has invested millions of dollars in public improvements in its five member cities – Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego.

The port oversees two maritime cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, 17 public parks, the Harbor Police Department and the leases of more than 600 tenant and sub tenant businesses around San Diego Bay.

The Port of San Diego is an economic engine, an environmental steward of San Diego Bay and the surrounding tidelands, and a provider of community services and public safety.

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