Though time machines don’t exist (yet), my dad and I managed to travel back in time this afternoon to a time of pirates where tall ships openely roamed the seas. We were able to do this right here at home, at the first day of Saint John’s Festival of Sail in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.
The Festival of Sail is a 3 day festival happening at the port area in Uptown Saint John and is free for everyone! Though today the boats weren’t open for visitors, tomorrow and Sunday they will be open for tours so you can go and explore inside the ship. I think going inside the ships would be pretty cool but I’d imagine they aren’t quite wheelchair accessible so I thought today would be a good day to go.
It was surprisingly busy there! I was pleased to see how many people this festival has drawn to the uptown area. There was tons of things going on within the festival area. When you first went in, there was a big tent with a craft market inside. The variety between the different vendors’s booths was great; there was certainly something for everybody to explore. Plus, for my friends who eat, there was lots of delicious looking ice cream for sale!
After exploring the market, we went out onto the big dock area. They had some art around from the Area 506 festival, including the top 3 crates from the crate design contest. They were pretty sharp, definitely worth taking a look. There was also live music throughout the whole day on the pier, tours of the dock, educational events at the New Brunswick Museum down the street in Market Square, and, of course, the main event: a full kilometre of tall ships lining the dock!
The boats were incredible, some of them measuring over 40 metres tall. Nearly a dozen different ships were there, all with different style, character, and history. Exploring around the pier, you could find ships from all over the world, notably a couple from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in addition to those from Canada and the United States.
Unfortunately, when my dad and I were there, the tide was fairly low so it was hard to see the boats in their full grandeur because the barricades didn’t let you get very close to the ships. However, there was a section that the barricades were closer to the edge of the dock so we got a better view there. I would recommend going when the tides are higher but it was still a fun festival to explore regardless. I was amazed about how huge some of those ships were!
After we were done at the Festival of Sail, we decided to do a bit of uptown exploration. First stop was actually within the festival grounds. From the docks that were part of the festival, we could see the the mural done by HULA (Sean Yoro), an American painter who grew up in Hawaii and is channeling his love of the water into his art. The mural was absolutely stunning. It is partially submerged in water giving the illusion of someone drowning or coming up from the water depending on the tides. We also came across some artists setting up for the Third-Shift art exposition that was going on in the uptown area tonight.
Before heading home, we stopped to see some murals painted on Union Street. If you’re looking to find them, they are in the parking lot used for Service New Brunswick. The murals were very pretty and brighten up a dull area in uptown.
It’s amazing seeing the uptown come to life with all this art and festivals happening. We have a rich culture here in Saint John and I’m glad to see it being shown. If you were thinking of checking out the tall ships, they will be here all weekend and be open for ship tours on Saturday and Sunday. Overall, we had a really fun afternoon at this neat festival and I hope you do too if you decide to check it out!