Guide to the Greenwich Tall Ships Festival

By Rob Virtue on August 28, 2014 7:55 AM |

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If you have even the remotest interest in ships and maritime then Greenwich is the place for you next week.

The Tall Ships Festival, running from September 5 to 9, marks the end of the Falmouth to Greenwich Regatta, and will see around 50 boats arrive on the Thames.

The event is the first of its kind for 25 years. Crowds will be entertained with artistic performances and dramatic fireworks displays. There are riverside attractions and people will be able to board and travel on the ships.

As well as Greenwich town centre, the Peninsula, Canary Wharf and Woolwich will see plenty of maritime activity.

Here's the full list of events and a few of the boats you may see:


Maritime Greenwich

■ The launch extravaganza will take place at the Old Royal Naval College on September 5 between 8.30pm and 9.15pm. Catalan theatre group Sarruga will present Peixos, a marine-themed show featuring lanterns and cycle-powered machines. A fireworks display will follow to signal the start of the festival.

■ Displays, music and theatre performances will greet visitors at the Lebara Tall Ships Festival Village in Maritime Greenwich. There will also be food and craft stalls at the free event.
Sept 5-9 at various times.


■ Tall ships will be available to board at Maritime Greenwich. During the day these can be reached with a £3 shuttle from Greenwich Pier.
Sept 5-8.

Cutty Sark

■ A team of skilled riggers will be hoisting sails and climbing around the historic tea clipper, Cutty Sark, in free performances throughout the day. Spend a little money to have a look around the ship.
Sept 5-7



■ Tall ships will be moored giving the public the chance to hop on board for a look around for free. There will also be live music.
Sept 5 to 8 at various times.

National Maritime Museum

■ Ships, Clocks and Stars: The Quest For Longitude will be on at the maritime museum during the festival. Adult tickets cost £8.50.

■ Guiding Lights: 500 Years Of Trinity House And Safety At Sea is an ongoing free exhibition examining work by Trinity House allowing sailors to navigate the seas and preventing shipwrecks and loss of life.

■ A talk by polar explorer Ben Saunders will take place from 2pm on September 5. He will be discussing his re-creation of the Scott Expedition to the Antarctic.

■ Music Of The Sea will take place between 11am and 4.30pm on September 7 offering a range of maritime-themed tunes.

Old Royal Naval College

■ Who Put The Royal Into Greenwich? is an investigation of royals who visited or lived in the town, including King Henry VIII. Talks on September 6 will be held at midday, 1.30pm and 3pm.

Queen's House

■ Rozanne Hawksley: War And Memory shows art from one of the UK's great textile innovators. The exhibition will run from 10am-5pm each day.

Royal Observatory

■ Longitude Punk'd tells the story of the pursuit of longitude with modern steampunk inventors taking inspiration from the predecessors. Adult tickets cost £8.50.

University of Greenwich

■ The Edinburgh Room will host talks and films on maritime subjects, including war stories.
From Sept 6-8 at various times.

■ The Stephen Lawrence Gallery will show a free exhibition on tall ships photography by John Cadd who has been snapping the vessels for over 20 years.
From Sept 5-9, all day.


Wood Wharf

■ Around 24 smaller tall ships will be heading to the dock at Canary Wharf throughout the festival. Some vessels will be open for free visits. The boats will begin to arrive in the days before.

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Royal Arsenal

■ Sail Royal Greenwich will be taking groups on tours throughout the festival with fireworks on selected evening cruises. Ships will depart from Royal Arsenal Woolwich and take in the sights.
Go to

■ The Festival Village will be open throughout the event offering performances, merchandise, food and more attractions.

■ A free production of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage will take place at Royal Arsenal on September 5, 6 and 7.

■ At 6.30pm on September 6, there will be an evening of entertainment at the bandstand, including sea shanties and folk music.

Greenwich Heritage Centre

■ The venue at Artillery Square in Woolwich has on show paintings, drawings and prints in its free Maritime Greenwich exhibition. It is also hosting an exhibition following its Tall Ships Big Art and Storytelling Competition. The top 200 entries will be on display.
Between Sept 5 and 9, all day.


Maritime Greenwich to Royal Arsenal Woolwich

■ Thames barges and traditional ships will be sailing from Greenwich to Woolwich on September 6 from midday to 2pm.

■ Puffers and Dunkirk Ships, which were part of the 1940 evacuation, will be heading along the route from 2pm until 3.30pm.

■ More than 50 tall ships will travel along the Thames for the dramatic finale between 1pm and 4pm on September 9.

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■ Go to for full listings and to find out what boats are where.

• Read more - Tall Ships Festival promises to be a 'superb spectacle'