The final countdown has begun for The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018.


From 10-14 July, the city of Sunderland will host the UK’s largest, free family event: a five-day festival of beautiful ships, circus, theatre and music.


And with just one month to go, organisers have revealed the scale of the event in numbers – and the economic impact it is expected to have on the city.


Fifty-five ships from 16 countries are now making final preparations before setting sail for Sunderland –  with one ship, the Tarangini, facing a 3,600-nautical mile journey.


One of the largest ships taking part is Christian Radich from Norway, at 73m long and 33.6.m high, which featured in the BBC TV drama The Onedin Line in the 1970s, while the smallest is the Wyvern at just 13m. 


Along with their crews of 466 experienced international sailors, 152 young sail trainees from Sunderland will join ships on Friday 13 July.


They will also join the 1000-strong Crew Parade through Sunderland on Thursday 12 July from 3pm to 4.00pm and later take part in the first leg of the Races, to Esbjerg, Denmark, gaining a raft of practical and personal skills and the experience of a lifetime.


As host port for the event, Sunderland has laid on its biggest ever, free public festival – spread across four event zones; the Port of Sunderland (Zone A), the Town Moor and East End (Zone B), St Peter’s Riverside (Zone C) and Roker and Seaburn Seafront (Zone 4).


There will be a massive 200 performances of theatre, circus and music – from school choirs, brass bands and local bands such as The Lake Poets and Smoove and Turrell to international performance artists and a high-wire spectacular from Cirque Bijou.


233 Wearsiders have signed up as volunteer Event Makers advising the estimated 1.5m visitors what to see, where to see it and how to get there.


And 250 bars and catering concessions will be on hand selling everything from coffee and crepes to pints and pizza.


Among the many businesses supporting The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018 is Tyne and Wear Metro operator Nexus. Customer services director Huw Lewis, said: “I’m looking forward to a party atmosphere that extends up from the docks and right through the city. 


“The Tall Ships Races is about opening Sunderland up to visitors from all over the world and celebrating the city as a meeting place of cultures. 


“We’ll be playing our part by bringing visitors from across North East England on Metro throughout the event.”


Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Communities and Culture agreed the event is a superb opportunity to showcase the city to a wide audience – and it is also expected to generate £30m for the city’s economy.


“The city has absolutely pulled out all the stops for this,” he said. “It is a hugely prestigious international event and we intend to make the region proud.”


For full details of the event programme and more information about The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018, visit follow on Twitter @TallShipsSund or Facebook at: Tall Ships Races Sunderland.



With so much to see and enjoy, planning is essential and here are some top tips for visitors.


Travel Tips

  1. We are expecting the Park & Ride and Park & Walk sites to be very busy in the evening when the days’ events are finished so please allow for possible delays in your return journey.
  2. When travelling back to the Park & Ride sites, ensure that you are at the correct pick-up point to get you to the correct car park.
  3. For regular traffic updates throughout the Tall Ships event listen to BBC Newcastle 95.4FM and Sun FM on 103.4FM.
  4. If you are travelling by rail, please check the timetables to make sure you don’t miss your last train.
  5. As there is a possibility of congestion on the roads, be prepared and make sure you bring along water, food and other essentials and allow plenty of time for your journey.


Entertainment Tips

  1. There are two nights of fireworks, at 21.30hrs on 11thand 12th July, which will fire from the East side of the Port. Fireworks will also be incorporated into the artistic performance taking place 2100-2200hrs on 13th July, which will take place over the river just East of Wearmouth Bridge – this will be best viewed from Event Zone C.
  2. All events and exhibitions are free unless otherwise stated.


General Tips:

  1. Travel light and leave big bags at home – people may be searched by stewards on entry.
  2. Dogs are not permitted in Event Zone A (except for assistance dogs). Well behaved dogs, on a lead, are allowed on Event Zones B and C.
  3. If the weather is hot don’t forget to bring sun screen and drink plenty of water.
  4. The Official Souvenir Event Guide and Official Merchandise are available to purchase throughout the Event Zones at the merchandise trailers.
  5. The event zones cover a large area of the city, stay comfortable with appropriate footwear, and the event is expected to be very busy, so there is likely to be queues in a number of places.

Access Tips

  1. A British Sign Language Interpreter will be available at the Information Point on Event Zone A.
  2. The Class A ship Lord Nelson is specifically built to provide access throughout for people with disabilities including wheelchair users, it has flat wide decks and powered lifts. There is also a speaking compass and bright track radar, induction loop and vibrator alarms. Lord Nelson is moored at QE2 Berth at the South of Hudson Dock – visitors with limited mobility should be advised to that this is the only ship that can offer them the opportunity to attend ‘open ship’.
  3. Accessible toilets are available in each toilet location around the Event Zones.  National Glass Centre located in Event Zone C has an adult changing facility, as does Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens in the City Centre.