Entertainment & Events
San Diego goes Sailing this Labor Day
As the whole of the country gears up for its long-awaited Labor Day holiday weekend, the city of San Diego sure has a lot to offer its citizens and visitors. Every year, perhaps one of the highlights of the city’s entertainment is the Maritime Museum’s Festival of Sail. From Friday to Monday this holiday weekend, floats, stalls and sailing ships will line the city’s North Embarcadero, giving all visitors a close-up look at more than 20 tall ships and other impressive vessels.
The Festival of Sail has been taking place since 1999. It started off as an event that took place every three years, due to the normal rotation that sees the largest category of ships – Class A – come to the Pacific Ocean. However, the festival quickly gained so much support and popularity that it became an annual celebration, and invited those Class A ships to join the festivities every third year.
The festivities started on Thursday, with the annual Parade of Sail. This saw around ten to twelve large merchant sailing ships parade into the harbor of San Diego, giving visitors a spectacular sight from famous lookout points such as Shelter Island and Harbor Island.
The festival is expected to dominate the harbor area around the bay for the whole of the holiday weekend. People are due to travel from far and wide to witness famous tall sailing ships such as the Californian (the official sailing ship of California), the Irving and Bill of Rights. One of the main highlights of this year’s event is when several of the tall sailing ships will engage in reconstructions of traditional cannon battles on the San Diego Bay. The battles will take place on each day of the festival and will be sure to offer visitors a thrilling insight into maritime war history. There is also the option to purchase tickets from the Maritime Museum to witness the “battles” from the decks of some of the ships.
Another highlight of the Festival of Sail will be its Treasure Hunt Adventure Cruises. Upon purchasing a ticket, guests are invited to climb aboard the pirate ship, called Treasure Seeker. The tall ship will sail across the bay on a 60 minute adventure. The pirate-themed trip includes the firing of the ships water cannons upon encountering any “rogue ships”.
Citizens of San Diego needn’t feel shocked if they suddenly hear gun fire over the holiday weekend; the festival is planning on firing several authentic Civil War Napoleonic cannons. The firing episode is being highly anticipated, due to the reassurance by the Maritime Museum that these canons are not replicas – they are the real thing. The authentic 1863-built canons are the exact weaponry that was once used to defend the city, and it has been promised by the festival’s organisers that their firing will create a huge boom. Of course, they will not be firing actual rounds, but a black mock powder.
The Festival of Sail is well-known for its appealing interactive element. Aside from the 150 vendors and the creation of a ‘sailing village’ at this year’s event, there are also ample chances to board one of the festival’s magnificent vessels for a taste of what life at sea is like for a professional sailor. A two hour Twilight cruise offers beautiful views of sunset from on board a traditional sailing boat. Boats voyage around the scenic bay of San Diego and guests enjoy refreshments while soaking up a truly relaxing experience.
Fun for all the family needn’t be expensive. In fact, you certainly don’t need to be a platinum credit card holder to come and enjoy the fun at this year’s event. Entry to the vendor area is free and tickets to the sailing village cost just $10 for children and $15 for adults. You can either pay at the venue on the day, or you can buy tickets online via the Maritime Museum’s website by debit or credit card.
Just down the road from the Maritime Museum is another spectacle. The US Sandcastle Sculpting Challenge is taking place on the pier. Around 300 tons of sand has been delivered to the venue, which will see internationally-renowned artists such as Kirk Rademaker, Rusty Croft and Sue McGrew, who presents the TV show, Sand Masters, trying their hand at sculpting. Up for grabs is a prize of $20,000, and the event is expected to draw crowds from all over the country that are keen to witness these marvellous creations.