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July 4 is a time to recognize America’s history — and this Independence Day, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in a celebration of the country’s maritime past right here in Buffalo.

From July 4 through July 7, a fleet of 12 tall ships from the United States, Canada, Spain and the South Pacific will descend upon the Outer Harbor as part of the “Basil Port of Call: Buffalo” event. It will be the first time there have been this many tall ships in Buffalo at one time in more than a century.

Port of Call Details & Festivities

The four-day festival will run along Canalside, Riverwalk and the Erie Basin Marina for Buffalo’s inauguration as a host port of the Tall Ships Challenge® Great Lakes 2019 race from Toronto to Buffalo. The festival will feature canal-era music, performances and activities, as well as a chance to see nine ships up close, according to The Buffalo News.

empire sandy ship buffalo port of call
Hailing from Toronto, the Empire Sandy is the tallest ship arriving in the fleet to Buffalo. [Image: Port of Call Buffalo]

Parade of Sail

The event begins with the Parade of Sail on Thursday afternoon. Here is the tentative parade schedule, according to the Post of Call website:

*The NAO Santa Maria will arrive early and will not participate in the Parade of Sail.

According to the festival website, the best places to watch the parade include Lighthouse Point and the Outer Harbor if you want to see the parade in its entirety. The historic Lighthouse Point will also host a patriotic concert, Civil War encampment demonstrations, children’s activities and the cannon salutes for the Parade of Sail ships. The Buffalo Niagara Concert Band, a 70-piece orchestra, will also perform here.

If you’d like to see parts of the parade, Templeton Landing, the Erie Basin Marina, Riverwalk/Erie St. and Canalside will provide good views as well.

Opening ceremonies will take place following the Parade of Sail on July 4. On July 4 during the festival, there will also be a special Canalside celebration culminating with a fireworks display.

port of call buffalo crowd
Guests to the Port of Call: Buffalo will have the opportunity to tour the large ships and take advantage of festivities, music, vendors and more. [Image: Port of Call: Buffalo Facebook]

Climb Aboard The Tall Ships

From July 5-7, guests will have the opportunity to tour the ships, listen to music, participate in festival activities and purchase food from vendors.

While the festival itself is free, you’ll have to purchase tickets to board and tour the ships. Adult tickets are $20, seniors and veterans are $18 and children are $10. The passes each cover one day of ship boarding. Attendees can also purchase tickets to sail on the Spirit of Buffalo, Appledore IV and Appledore V ships.

Appledore IV ship port of call buffalo
Attendees to the Buffalo Port of Call will have the chance to set sail on one of three large ships, including the Appledore IV. [Image: Port of Call Buffalo]
If you miss the festival, you may not have a chance to see the ships again for a while. According to The Buffalo News, Buffalo could host the tall ships again in 2025, the bicentennial of the opening of the Erie Canal, but that’s still to be determined.

You can learn all about the ships and festival schedule, track the ships on their way to Buffalo and purchase tickets on the festival’s website. The event is expected to attract 125,000 people, so if you’re planning on attending, be sure to take note of parking and shuttle options.

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