The world's most beautiful and tall sailing ships will be passing through Antwerp in July as part of the second leg of the Tall Ships Races.
From Friday 22 to Monday 25 July, 43 pirate-like sailing ships will moor at the quays of the Scheldt, the Kattendijk dock and the docks around the MAS before heading to Aalborg in Denmark.
"The Tall Ships Races bring the cathedrals of the sea to Antwerp and provide a unique meeting between history and present in the heart of our city," Mayor Bart De Wever said.
The first leg of the race will be from Esbjerg in Denmark to Harlingen in the Netherlands, after which the ships will sail on to Antwerp, before setting sail up north. While docked in Antwerp, the ships can be boarded for free.
It will be the seventh time the Flemish city welcomes the sailing regatta, however, the last edition took place six years ago. At the time, it attracted more than 500,000 visitors to the city. During the event this year, a colourful parade of the ships' crews, musical performances and a maritime market will be organised.
"The 'Tall Ships' grow into a popular festival each time they call at our city, one of the largest in Flanders," tourism councillor Koen Kennis said.
To compensate for the CO² emission that this event entails, the Tall Shops Races organisation will be planting trees in Flanders, while it will be relying largely on wind and solar energy for electricity.
Trainees included in Antwerp crew
The city's preparations for the regatta are in full swing, as is the training of the crew, which will include almost a hundred Belgian trainees, whom were recruited through an extensive campaign. Young people with a mental or physical disability and those living in poverty are also part of the crew.
They will be given the chance to sail along during the Tall Ships Races, with the expert support of permanent coaches who will accompany them throughout the process.
"The people who are looking forward to these Tall Ships Races the most are the 100 young people from the Antwerp Crew. These young people, aged between 15 and 25, will have the opportunity to become trainee and get to know the ins and outs of such a magnificent ship," Antwerp's port councillor Annick De Ridder said.