Ever wondered what it’s like to be sailing on a big ship? Live on board of one for several weeks? How the sailors plot their course and steer the ship? Well, you can find out many of those things without leaving a port. But that’s not all! Along with the festival come all the festivities and fun that the whole family can enjoy.
Every year, Tall Ship Festival comes to several marinas in major cities located on Great Lakes and on St. Lawrence River. The one we visited this year, and highly recommend, is Tall Ship Festival in Brockville, Ontario.
Here are our top 7 reasons everyone should visit Tall Ship Festival with the family.
Every festival has them – food trucks from every possible part of the world. Greasy foods that you wouldn’t touch at home, but are willing to happily enjoy once in a blue moon are everywhere. And for dessert, you’re bound to grab cotton candy on a stick or ice cream from one of many vendors located all over the grounds. And if you visit the festival in Toronto or Brockville you’ll also be able to enjoy the world renowned, Ottawa native – Beavertail.
This is a unique opportunity to watch artists at work. You can watch a jeweller making earring, a wood carver making beautiful bowls or an artist paint the ships on the river. All of it live, right before your eyes. In addition, you can buy beautiful gifts and trinkets from many craftsmen presenting their one of a kind, hand made goods.
No festival would be complete without kids activities. In the kids area you’ll be sure to find face painting, inflatable slides and obstacle courses, kids shows and arts and crafts that the children can make and take with them. Those are just a few and geared specifically towards kids.
Army, Navy and Essential Services Booths
This one was one of my kids favourite. What little boy would not want to gear up in a bulletproof cameo vest and helmet and hold a real semi-automatic gun that he can barely lift? Well, my son loved it! You can check out some of the military and essential services vehicles, such as military truck, an ambulance or police fourwheelers.You can try on some of the military diving gear and learn how to tie a few nautical knots, how to throw rope and how to secure a boat to the dock. Definitely, worth checking out!
Once you’re done checking out today’s army equipment and talking to the soldiers and the marines, be sure to stop by the Red Coats area. Here you’ll find a camp of 19th century British soldiers. Their wives will greet you with some sweets and show you the tools they used for everyday work. You can even buy sun-umbrellas, hand-made silk scarves and beautifully painted wooden bowls. Visiting the soldier area is fun as well. Tents are pitched in a neat row. Campfire is roaring and a pot of stew is cooking over the fire. The soldiers are happy to explain to the visitors all the tools and equipment they needed to support an army camp. In addition, you can watch them as they perform drills, play 19th century military music or practice shooting from the fuskets. All that in a one, very compact area.
The Pirates, ARRRRR
The pirate show is a must see for every family. Sit down under a shade of a tent and watch pirate band play, dance and sing. After the show, make sure to stick around to talk to the pirates. They will be happy to take pictures with you, talk about their clothes and special accessories and will even show your kids what they did with pirates who, let’s say… weren’t very good team players.
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The Tall Ships
Now this is really what you go to the Tall Ship Festival for. Make sure to get there early and go to check out the big, international ships first. There is always the biggest line up to see those one.
This year the replica of the Spanish El Galeon took the cake. It is a magnificent ship! My kids enjoyed walking on the upper deck and the lower deck, checking out the canons and comparing their own living conditions to those on the ship. The masts look spectacular and I can’t even imagine how beautiful the ship must look with its sails up.
Pride of Baltimore II
Pride of Baltimore II was another amazing ship to visit. Smaller than El Galeon, but nonetheless, very impressive. The crew was very approachable and happy to answer all of our questions. And there were tons, as we know nothing about ships, boats, yachts etc.
Canadian Border Patrol
Next was the Canadian Border Patrol ship. This one lacked the beauty and fineness of the previous ships, but made up for it with all the cool gadgets and equipment. The police officers on board were very nice and explained the use of many of the devices found on the ship and some of the procedures they have to follow in different situations.
In addition to those three, there were several smaller ships, beautiful yachts. Each one with a unique and intriguing story. When on board, make sure to talk to the crew. My kids favourite question to most of the crew on the ships was: Tell me three fun facts about this ship that no other ship will share. And we got quite a few different stories…
And the most important of all the wonderful things we experienced was that we spent a day together, as a family. We enjoyed each other’s company, the sunshine, fresh air, and beautiful scenery of St. Lawerence River. You can’t beat that!
Have you ever been to a Tall Ship Festival or a nautical themed festival? I’d love to hear your story…
And if you haven’t, be sure to check one out when you get a chance.