The Best of the 2024 Maritime Festivals

20 February | 7 min read
Escape sailing brixham

The beauty of sailing, fundamentally, is getting out and about on the water, the freedom and fresh air that invigorates your soul. However, for those that aren’t ready to cross oceans, or for first time venture sailors, taking part in a festival afloat is a classic way to learn the ropes and experience what traditional sailing has to offer. No tents or muddy fields to master, just rather elegant maritime glamping. So get your sea boots on, ready to dance across the waves at the 2024 maritime festivals!

2024 will play host to a real variety of festivals afloat, each taking place in picturesque locations around our coasts.  Fleets of classic and historic craft parade across the bays creating a stunning picture of canvas and sail steeped in nostalgia. 2024 marks the return of the infamous Brest festival for the first time in eight years – and we can’t wait to celebrate!

A number of our vessels take part in maritime festivals across the UK and Europe – find all available berths on maritime festival voyages here.

2024 Maritime Festivals 

Brest 2024 Maritime Festival – 12th – 17th July 2024

2024 marks a triumphant return for the Brest festival, and after eight years it’s safe to say this will be one to remember! Brest International Maritime Festival sees a flotilla of some 2500 sailing vessels coming together on the water and what a sight it is! From traditional classic boats to coracles, from windjammers to historic fishing vessels, this is sure to be a highlight for all maritime lovers.

On land, the festival continues in full swing with plenty of music from all over the world, impeccably good food and freshly caught seafood. Entertainment includes street performances, military processions, reenactments and period fancy dress. The larger ships are open to the public to climb aboard and have a wander around and you can join the nightly parade of boats or sit back from the harbour front and watch them sail by.

Whilst our Brest and Douarnenez voyages are sold out for 2024, whilst there keep an eye out for our vessels taking part in the festival. Victorian trawler Pilgrim of Brixham, West Country trading ketch Bessie Ellen, and pilot cutter Pellew will all be taking part in the festivities! Fireworks will close the festival with hundreds of vessels converging from all corners of the World making an exciting and truly unforgettable Parade of Sail to start the second festival in Douarnenez.

Festival Temps Fête Douarnenez – 18th – 21st July 2024

Festival Temps Fête in Douarnenez returns every two years, and is a little more intimate than Brest. This haven for traditional wooden ship lovers also attracts an array of photographers and artists who want to immerse themselves within working boats and the beauty of Douarnenez. The Festival also offers plenty of races, sailing re-enactments and other activities on the water. The cobbled streets are perfect to explore the music, local shops and cuisine whilst reminiscing of a time when the wooden boats provided the town with trade as they docked in the port.

Make sure to keep an eye out for Victorian trawler Pilgrim of Brixham and pilot cutter Pellew as they set sail and take part in the festivities.

Brixham Heritage Regatta – 24th – 26th May 2024

May sees the start of events where the fishing town of Brixham hosts the Heritage Sailing regatta. Held in Torbay since the early 1800’s, the fleet of sailing trawlers would race against each other for the glory of their craft. In 1914 King George V presented the winner with the King’s Cup, to be challenged by trawlers over 40 tons. The cup was challenged annually until 1939, resuming in 1997 by enthusiasts. The regatta is now one of the Westcountry’s most vibrant sailing events! In the sheltered waters of the bay you can you may spot classic yacht Escape as she takes part in the festivities. Prince William Quay is the focal point for the weekend long party and celebration of classic sail.  Brixham Yacht Club host the event with a magnificent running buffet for hungry sailors when they come off the water on Sunday afternoon before the traditional prize giving.

Falmouth Classics and Sea Shanty Festival – 14th – 16th June 2024

Early summer sees the historic Cornish maritime town of Falmouth host the Falmouth Classics and Sea Shanty Festival, a weekend of sailing races, sail parades and shoreside entertainment and singers from the world over who gather to sing songs of the sea.

Head over to St. Mawes or the famous Helford river during the weekend, with sheltered waters and stunning scenery for a moment to get away from the bustling marinas. The races include classes for all, from working boats to classic yachts and the emphasis is on taking part and above all having fun.

This year two of our fleet will be taking part in Falmouth Classics, classic yacht Escape and Victorian trawler Pilgrim of Brixham. Jump on board to experience the best of both worlds, taking part in some of the classic races, as well as anchoring up each night to enjoy the festivities and sea shanties ashore!

Dartmouth Royal Regatta – 19th – 27th August 2023

The Dartmouth Royal Regatta finishes up the festival season this year, having been a key player on the regatta circuit since 1882! Competitors from all over the UK come to take part in the racing festivities, and it is a popular weekend with maritime lovers. On land, there’s shopping, food, music and all sorts of entertainment during Regatta week in Dartmouth. The Parade of Classic Craft is usually on the Saturday – make sure to keep an eye out for heritage trawler Pilgrim of Brixham will join in the parade and provide a great viewing platform for the spectacular end of regatta firework display.

We hope to see you at one of these incredible events celebrating maritime culture in Europe. To join us on a sailing trip at a maritime festival, view all our festival voyages here.