Category: Sailing Festivals

The Best of the 2020 Festivals Afloat

Douarnenez Maritime Festival

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!

2020 will play host to a real variety of festivals afloat, each taking place in picturesque locations around our coasts. This year will see the return of the Brest International Maritime Festival only held once every four years. Fleets of classic and historic craft parade across the bays creating a stunning picture of canvas and sail steeped in nostalgia.

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 and you can soak up the festivities in 2020 on board the classic yacht, Escape for the weekend or enjoy day sails on our Cornish Lugger our Daddy. 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 complimentary fish pie supper and party on the Saturday night followed by a magnificent running buffet for hungry sailors when they come off the water on Sunday afternoon before the traditional prize giving.

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.

Sail with Escape, Pilgrim of Brixham or Our Daddy for the weekend or join us for Day Sailings.

Head over to St. Mawes or the famous Helford river during the weekend, proffering 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. Even if you have never sailed, the skippers love to share their knowledge and will give the voyage crew a rope to pull or sail to trim, and if you like, even the tiller.

Taking place every four years, 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 eagerly awaited maritime festival is a highlight in the sailing calendar. 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 for all is around every corner of the town with street performances, military processions, reenactments and period fancy dress.

Festival Temps Fête in Douarnenez is a little more intimate and is a haven for traditional wooden ship lovers. Whilst one is the old fishing port, Rosmeur, there is another with wooden wharves lined with harbour-side bars and restaurants in the medieval town. Douarnenez 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.

Next year sees Our DaddyPilgrim of Brixham, Polly and Escape sailing to take part in Brest International Maritime Festival and Douarnenez’s Festival Temps Fête. Bessie Ellen will be making the journey over but has been hired by the festival themselves. Click the boat links for more voyage details!

Paimpol Festivities

Festival fireworks in Brittany

“Welcome on board, tonight we are crossing the channel to France”, now this is sailing! A few moments ago you joined your ship and now the skipper is setting off across the seas. The promise of adventure beckons, skipping across the waves under a moonlit sky to Brittany, and a festival beyond all others, Paimpol folk music and shanty festival. If you’ve a love of music and boats, wooden ones really, then this festival is for you as this is a true celebration of both, as well as the magic of theatre, culture and happiness.

Paimpol-sailing-festival

It has been said that the French do public events better than anyone, and this is true here in the charming old town of Paimpol. But you are not the public, you arrive as part of the festival having maybe visited the Channel islands en route, polished the brass and scrubbed the decks in preparation and navigated the English Channel or La Manche. You are now a sailor from another land, someone who is part of something huge and ready for a weekend of world class entertainment for the 30th anniversary of the Paimpol festival.

With 160 bands performing over seven stages, this is an invitation to travel across music of the world. Sea shanties, Breton music and dance, street artists creates the rare fabric of Paimpol, not forgetting expositions, local food producers and some 200 traditional boats creating the perfect backdrop to the event.

Because your ship is the heart of the festival, you are free to come and go as you please, meeting friends, making new ones, stopping for a cider to swap stories or dance the night away until you drop. And the best thing- it’s up to you and your fellow crew how best to enjoy the event.

Within the closing hours of the festival, it’s time to get underway again to rest, sail and relax. Take the helm and discover peaceful meandering rivers and medieval towns or remote islands, perhaps cruise in company with other vessels making their way home. With so much to see and do, you will feel like you have discovered the world on your sailing adventure.

Join one of our fleet going to the Paimpol Festival

Classic Yacht Escape – 29 July, 10 days  from £1200

Pilgrim of Brixham – 30 July 9 days from £999

Pilot Cutter Polly Agatha  – 27 July 14 days from £1600 

The Douarnenez Maritime Festival Experience

Douarnenez festival of the sea harbourside

Nestled in a beautiful part of Brittany lies Rosmeur Bay, Douarnenez, a fishing port rich with maritime history. The old town is full of mysterious winding alleyways and quaint buildings, facades painted an array of bright colours. All of this serves as an incredibly picturesque backdrop for the Douarnenez Temps Fête. This bi-annual maritime festive is the highlight of seafaring Brittany and a celebration of nautical culture and music. Following the Brest Festival of the Sea tall ships and classic ships gather in this historic port giving sailors and visitors alike a chance to climb aboard and experience these magnificent vessels.

Apart from plenty of sailing, over the course of the five-day celebrations, expect a salt-sprayed array of activities, music and performances, also displays of traditional vessels and classic boats. Traditional boat trips in the bay offer the experience of exploring the old-fashioned methods of navigation and seamanship. Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the festival is that the events take place right in the bay, allowing spectators to get right up close to the action; at times more unusual, with a water dog rescue demonstration on the line up!

You can also embark on kayaking, paddle boarding and sculling adventures so that Rosmeur Bay can be explored from the water, where the charming location was really meant to be admired from. Activities for younger shipmates are also available, with opportunities for children to climb traditional rigging, and also to try out the diving pool, as if they were really adventuring out into the big blue.

Douarnenez festival fleet

More artistically, performances quayside include ‘la Marie Claudine’ an entertainment troupe that interests with performances in an 18th century style, in keeping with the theme of the festivities. ‘Les Douaniers du Rosmeur’ dresses up in traditional attire and also acts as authentic characters from that period in history. The festival has over 20 musicians and artists performing, covering a wide range of genres, from trance music to poetry, that express their cultural diversity and talent.