Fireworks, parades and live acts galore

What a line-up!

Thursday, 10th May 2018, 3:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th May 2018, 3:46 pm
The Tall Ships Parade of Sail at sea.

Officials behind Sunderland’s leg of The Tall Ships Races have ramped up the excitement levels by revealing a huge programme of activities for the four-day festival.

And here’s a day-to-day breakdown of what to expect when it all gets into full swing this July.

A map showing the Tall Ships event zones for the Sunderland leg of this year's races.

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Monday, July 9, and Tuesday, July 10.

The first of the tall ships are expected to arrive.

Wednesday, July 11.

The event zones open at 10am and all ships will be in port by 12pm.

A map of the event zones for the Sunderland leg of The Tall Ships Races.

There’s a full programme of entertainment including a performance called ‘What Am I Worth’ by Extraordinary Bodies which is a company of both disabled and able bodied circus performers, They will perform on a rotating aerial rig.

A 30ft high trapeze and circus act called Mosh Split from Sisus Sirkus.

The people of Sunderland will stage a ‘Welcome Parade’ for the ships crews. It will be held from 6pm to 7pm in the Hendon area and will include schoolchildren marching with the mini tall ships they created in a project called Set The Sails.

Fireworks will light up the sky from 9pm at the Port of Sunderland.

Sophie Lisa Beresford who will be performing street theatre at The Tall Ships Races.

Thursday, July 12.

The event zones open at 10am and stay open until 10pm.

Watch out for a live dance performance on a real fairground carousel. It will be performed by a company called Southpaw Dance.

The spectacular Crew Parade starts at 3pm. It winds its way from the Civic Centre, down Fawcett Street, over the Wearmouth Bridge, and down to St Peter’s Riverside. Around 1,000 visiting crew will be in Sunderland.

Emma Bloomfield in action.

And it ends with a prizegivign ceremony.

There will be more fireworks from the port, this time at 9.30pm.

Friday, July 13.

Another 12-hour opening for the event zones from 10am.

It’s the day when the sail trainees arrive at port to join their ships.

There’s a dance and aerial arts performance by Citrus Arts. It will be done on an upturned shipwreck.

Sunderland's tall ships project director Michelle Daurat who revealed more details of this summer's huge event.

A hilarious live clown act will be given by Paulo Nani. It’s called Jeckyll On Ice and it depicts a clown ice cream seller.

Get ready for a world’s first when Cirque Bijou performs a live high-wire tightrope act over the River Wear, without a safety net. It starts at 9pm from Panns Bank and includes pyrotechnics. Get to the riverside for the best view.

Saturday, July 14.

The last day of the Sunderland leg and the event zones open from 10am to 8pm.

Local performer Sophie Lisa Beresford will give a display of music and dance.

Emma Bloomfield will perform a spectacular aerial act, suspended from a ship’s mast.

Penella Bee and her dancers give a performance on an interactive chess set. Spin the wheel and the dancers move.

Thomas Potts portrays Spottee, Dottee and Pottee who each have stories of Sunderland.

From 12pm, the Summer Streets Festival will be held at Seaburn Recreation Park.

And from 1.30pm to 5pm, get ready to say goodbye to the fleet as the tall ships start to leave their berths.

From 5.30pm, the spectacular Parade of Sail will provide a stunning scene off the Sunderland coast as more than 50 ships travel up the coast to Souter Point before heading out to sea for the start of the races. On board will be 152 Wearside people enjoying their first taste of a tall ships sailing adventure.


It’s not just the ships which have international connections. Artists will be coming from countries including Holland, Denmark, Finland and Norway to perform in Sunderland.

In all, 1,000 performers will entertain the crowds.


There will be a world record attempt in a project called The Big Sing. Sunderland and the other race ports will team up to have as many people as possible sing a tall ship song at the same time.


Organisers are working with the National Portrait Gallery to bring famous paintings of naval heroes to Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

A tall ships-themed exhibition will be held at Washington Arts Centre.

There will be Bollywood dancing and a symphony orchestra.


A family and learning programme has been created.

Every day of the four-day Tall Ships festival, there will be a discovery tent where families can take part in arts and crafts. Organisers are expecting 1,100 children to take part.


As well as all this, there’s lots more to enjoy as well.

Fairgrounds and markets will run throughout the Sunderland leg.

There will be a Georgian market on the Town Moor as well as food and drink vendors in the event zones.

Local bands will get plenty of opportunities to show off their talents.

Even more detail of the huge festival will be revealed in the weeks to come.


In the meantime, for more detail about The Tall Ships Races 2018 follow the team at, Twitter @TallShipsSund or on Facebook at TallShipsRacesSunderland

Victoria French, Head of Events at Sunderland City Council, speaking at the media briefing held in the National Glass Centre.
Penella Bee performs.
Thomas Potts who will be portraying three eccentric seadogs who find themselves shipwrecked in Sunderland.