A 17-strong fleet of tall ships from across the world is heading to the River Mersey in Liverpool to help the city celebrate the 10th anniversary of its year as European Capital of Culture.
The spectacular fleet will return to the city for the fifth time for the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta, a free event which takes place between May 25 and 28.
The regatta, which is organised by Sail Training International, will see two other ports take part in the race, Dublin and Bordeaux.
Local people, under the age of 26, are being encouraged to join the race, which will finish in France.
Director of culture Claire McColgan said: “The Tall Ships were one of the highlights of our 2008 Capital of Culture celebrations so it is fitting that they will make their return as we celebrate the 10th anniversary.
“The ships are an absolutely stunning sight and give visitors the rare opportunity to ‘come on-board’ for a closer look at these incredible vessels.
“As well as the ships, we have a packed programme of events running across the city, both day and night. It’s all set to be a completely unmissable weekend.”
The Tall Ships will be berthed on the Liverpool Cruise Terminal, Canning Dock, Canning Half Tide Dock and Albert Dock during the festival weekend. From 12pm on Friday, May 25 – Sunday, May 27, visitors will be encouraged to ‘come on-board’ for a closer look.
The historic Lancashire Nobbies, or Morecambe Bay ‘prawners’, will take to the river on Saturday morning for their annual four-hour race on the Mersey.
And on Sunday (May 27), visitors will be able to see them at berth in the Albert Dock, where they will also be open for visits.
The highlight of the event will be the magnificent Parade of Sail at 12 noon on Bank Holiday Monday (May 28), when the tall ships will make their way up and down the River Mersey, accompanied by a flotilla of other craft, before sailing for Liverpool Bay at the start of their race.
An exciting programme of activities is planned across Liverpool to celebrate the arrival of the ships.
Events include the ‘Changing Tides’ creative programme, an exciting programme of international and local art works, installations, music, dance and theatrical performances commissioned by Culture Liverpool and part funded by Arts Council England.
Wine-lovers are also expected to flock to the waterfront as the world-renowned Bordeaux Wine Festival make its UK debut.
And there will also be a focus on getting young people aged under 26 from Merseyside involved in the race.
The Sail Trainee project will see 50 local youngsters, aged from 16, join the crew of a tall ship on a 5-day voyage from Liverpool to Dublin.
The event sponsors includes the Mayor of Liverpool, Liverpool City Region, Arts Council England, Mayoral 100 Club, Fazenda, Liverpool BID Company, Heart North West, Arriva, Merseyrail, Sail on Board, St John’s Shopping Centre and University of Liverpool.
For more information visit www.tallshipsliverpool.co.uk .