Can't-miss sailboat festival casts off in Galveston with stunning historic ships, trips, and more fun
As noted boatsman (and occasional musician) Christopher Cross famously noted in "Sailing," his light rock masterpiece, "the canvas can do miracles." Locals can take in a bit of that miracle working this weekend with the arrival of a famed festival.
The 2023 Tall Ships Galveston festival docks at the island this weekend at the historic waterfront area from Thursday, April 13 though Sunday, April 16. As the name implies, the event sees an impressive fleet and array of tall ships raving and cruising into Gulf waters as part of Tall Ships America's Challenge series, which also includes stops in Florida ports St. Petersburg and Pensacola this year.
Aside from taking in the spectacle of stunning and towering watercraft, visitors can look forward to ship tours and sailing excursions, music, food and drink, and more family-friendly special events at Galveston’s Pier 21 and surrounding areas. Performer schedules can be found here.
The Nao Trinidad dates back to the early 1500s.Photo courtesy of Tall Ships America
Nautical enthusiasts and historians can expect five visiting ships participating in the challenge. Standouts include the Nao Trinidad, which was the flagship of what was called Armada del Maluco (1519-1522). That fleet, captained by legendary explorer Ferdinand Magellan, traveled to the Spice Islands.
No tall ship event would be complete without the Official Tall Ship of Texas, the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, which will also take part in a Parade of Sail in the Gulf, all in clear view from and along Seawall Boulevard. Get the full day's program schedule here.
“The Tall Ships Challenge will bring some of the most beautiful ships in the world to our port,” said Dwayne Jones, CEO of the Galveston Historical Foundation, in press materials. “It’s a rare opportunity to step aboard a tall ship and learn about maritime history.”
Meanwhile, docked ships will be open to the public for viewing, with many offering dockside exhibits and interactions with crew. Each ship will host educational programs and experiences, and most exciting for sailors of all ages, exhibition trips.
Seafaring types should plan to arrive early on Thursday and select sailing days, wish “fair winds and following seas” to the crews, and — to quote Captain Cross — get "caught up in the reverie."
For more information, visit the festival's official site.