Ahoy, It's the Tall Ships Festival, in Dana Point

Major masts, mock cannon battles, and chances to spy grand vessels up-close are on deck, mateys.

What to Know

  • Sept. 7 through 9, 2018
  • Dana Point Harbor
  • Presented by Toshiba

"Talk Like a Pirate Day" may be a September staple, but several days before the "arrrs" arrive there is another Southern California happening that seems to have sailed in from a swashbuckling movie o' the high seas.

It's the Tall Ships Festival, presented by Toshiba, and it again brings its maritime mojo to Dana Point Harbor over the weekend following Labor Day.

It's a three-dayer of a to-do, with day #1 actually being all about the late afternoon and early evening.

The Parade of Sail is what we're talking about here, and if you immediately called out "isn't that the event where we get to view all of those huge replica ships with the sun setting in the background?" well, you know your seafaring stuff: It is, for sure.

And it is popular, so be at the harbor well before the 4 p.m. start time on Sept. 7.

The views are called "remarkable," and while some events can get a bit puffy and braggy, organizers are right on the money, er, doubloons with that word: It's something to see and to snap and to swoon about for years to come.

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The rest of the weekend will also deliver the waterborne excitement, with mock cannon battles (the "mock" meaning the noises'll be loud and the visuals smokey but there shall be zero damage) to tours of The Spirit of Dana Point and the Brig Pilgrim.

Ticket prices vary, so have money, er, doubloons at the ready.

On-shore goings-on include a craft beer bash on Friday evening, Mermaid Breakfasts on both Saturday and Sunday, and pirate encampments, giving you an opportunity to "avast" to your heart's content ahead of "Talk Like a Pirate Day" (which is on Sept. 19, do note, dear pirates of SoCal).

But the tall ships?

They're sailing in much sooner, from Sept. 7 through 9, in and around Dana Point Harbor. No need to wear a tri-cornered hat, or breeches, but do arrive with curiosity, a camera, and a desire to see a set of boats that look as though they passed through some time portal, from a century long gone by.

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