News / Halifax

Tall ships sailing into Halifax this summer with big events planned

About 30 tall ships will be docked on the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts from July 29 to Aug. 1.

Crew members line the masts of the Mexican Navy Tall Ship ARM Cuauhtemoc as it arrived in Halifax last May.

Jeff Harper/Metro File

Crew members line the masts of the Mexican Navy Tall Ship ARM Cuauhtemoc as it arrived in Halifax last May.

The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta is coming to Halifax for four days of free concerts, Nova Scotian food and a celebration of the province’s history.

About 30 tall ships will be coming into port in Halifax on July 28. They will be docked on the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts from July 29 to August 1.

To kick off the ships’ Halifax stay, Natalie MacMaster and Symphony Nova Scotia are hosting a free concert July 29.

Taste of Nova Scotia is the Regatta’s provincial culinary partner, featuring a diner series on George’s Island, a family picnic on McNab’s Island on Saturday and a fish cake breakfast on Monday.

Halifax will also have fireworks every night of the stay and heritage programming on Citadel Hill, the boardwalk and on George’s Island. There’s also an array of other events involving pirates, shipbuilding, and buskers.

The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta is an international sail race that begins Thursday in Royal Greenwich, United Kingdom. It’s run by Sail Training International, an organization that teaches youth from around the world to sail.

The provincial government is contributing $1.5 million towards the event.

Waterfront Development said the Tall Ships Regatta brought $32 million in direct benefits to the provincial economy in 2009. The organization believes this year could be bigger because of Canada 150 and the fact there are more ships.

Halifax is the starting line for the final leg of the race towards the last destination, Le Havre, France. The ships are making 10 other stops of at ports around Nova Scotia including Lunenburg, Sydney, Shelburne and Digby.

Dealing with waterfront construction

With the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ship Regatta coming into town the last weekend of July, Waterfront Development is figuring out ways to make Halifax waterfront pedestrian friendly for thousands of people, despite construction.

In 2009, an estimated 600,000 people came to see the tall ships and experience the festivities. This year with more international marketing and more ships “combined with Canada 150 and the national celebrations I think we could fully expect more people this year,” said Jennifer Angel, acting president and CEO of Waterfront Development.

A new floating boardwalk from Murphy’s Cable Wharf to the Maritime Museum will help move crowds past the Queen’s Marque, where construction will be well underway, said Angel.

“We’re also working with our colleagues at the municipality around street closures, pedestrian wayfinding, and other ways to move people and so the main events are centered, as they always are, dispersed along the waterfront,” said Angel.

She says they are also working with Halifax Transit to arrange transportation, including ferries to George’s and McNab’s islands, for various events around food and heritage.

Though the two existing wharfs by Queen’s Marque will likely be removed by the Tall Ship Regatta, there’s still enough space for the approximately 30 ships to dock on the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts.

Right now, there’s also a cluster of small business being constructed by the Summit building, but Angel says that won’t be an issue during the Tall Ship Regatta.

“They will be open and that construction will be complete long before the ships enter the harbor."

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the free concert by Natalie MacMaster and Symphony Nova Scotia would be held on George's Island. That concert is in fact being hosted on the waterfront. Metro regrets the error.

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