Tall Ships in Boston

Tall Ships:  Sail Boston Regatta Schedule & Events

Where & When to See Tall Ships in Boston

Please note: This event took place in 2017.  

Sail Boston brings 52 magnificent tall ships from all over the world to Boston Harbor in June for a 5-day festival. 

You can watch the Tall Ships Parade through the Harbor, join on-board tours, see them up close on special cruises, and enjoy the festival's celebrations and other special events. 


Although a few tall ships visit Boston almost every summer and we even have our own seasonal tall ships including the Adirondack III, Sail Boston is exceptional because of the large number and variety of ships you can see and visit.  

How big are these tall ships?  The largest to visit this year is 380 feet long.  In comparison, Boston's most famous resident tall ship, the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") measures only 305 feet in length.

When the ships present the Grand Parade of Sail, you'll get a glimpse of what the Harbor looked like 200 years ago when these spectacular vessels ruled the seas. 

In addition, you can tour the ships, watch the Crew and Cadet Parade through Downtown Boston, enjoy festivals and sunset salutes, and make reservations on one of the special Harbor cruises designed to give you close-up views of the ships.  Go straight to tall ships cruise information

All events (except for the harbor cruises) are free and open to the public. 

Sail Boston is part of the Rendez-Vous Tall Ships Regatta, a 7,000 nautical mile trans-Atlantic race with visits in six countries.  Boston is the only U.S. port of call, and is hosting the Parade of Sail for the first time in 17 years.

Use the information on this page to plan your Tall Ship visit, find out where to stay nearby, and discover more to do while you're in Boston.

Top photo; Tall ship in full sail

Get tickets for a tall ship cruise (spring through late fall)

More about Tall Ship Cruises in Boston

Tall Ships Event Schedule & Best Viewing Locations:  Sail Boston

Event Schedule

Friday, June 16: 

  • 12 noon - Opening Ceremony at the Boston Harbor Hotel Rotunda

Saturday, June 17: 

  • 9am - 3pm - Grand Parade of Sail - During this spectacular parade, flotillas of ships will sail from their anchorage area in Broad Sound (the body of water east of Revere Beach) and enter the Outer Harbor between Deer Island and Long Island.  They'll pass through the channel between Castle Island and Logan Airport to the Inner Harbor, sailing past the South Boston Waterfront/Seaport, East Boston, the Downtown Waterfront and North End, and then up Charlestown where they'll turn around and head back to their assigned docking areas.
  • 10am - 10pm - Sail Boston Festivals - Fish Pier in Seaport/South Boston Waterfront and the Charlestown Navy Yard
  • 3pm - 10pm - Public Boarding of Ships - You will have the chance to go on board (free admission) selected ships.  Look for more information and boarding times closer to the event date.
  • Want to sail in the Grand Parade -  Reserve a spot on the schooner Adirondack III

Sunday, June 18: 

  • 10am - 10pm - Public Boarding of Ships - Go on board (free admission) selected ships.  Look for more information and boarding times closer to the event date.
  • 10am - 10pm - Sail Boston Festivals - Fish Pier in Seaport/South Boston Waterfront and the Charlestown Navy Yard

Monday, June 19: 

  • 10am - 10pm - Public Boarding of Ships - Go on board (free admission) selected ships.  Look for more information and boarding times closer to the event date.
  • 10am - 10pm - Sail Boston Festivals - Fish Pier in Seaport/South Boston Waterfront and the Charlestown Navy Yard
  • 12 noon - 2pm - Crew & Cadet Street Parade - Downtown Crossing (Washington Street)

Tuesday, June 20: 

  • 8am - 2pm - Crew & Cadet Soccer Tournament - Moakley Park (446 Old Colony Avenue/1005 Columbia Street, South Boston)
  • 10am - 10pm - Public Boarding of Ships - Go on board (free admission) selected ships.  Look for more information and boarding times closer to the event date.
  • 10am - 10pm - Sail Boston Festivals - Fish Pier in Seaport/South Boston Waterfront and the Charlestown Navy Yard
  • 7pm - 9pm - Sunset Salute - Musical and military entertainment in the Charlestown Navy Yard

Wednesday, June 21: 

  • 10am - 10pm - Public Boarding of Ships - Go on board (free admission) selected ships.  Look for more information and boarding times closer to the event date.
  • 10am - 10pm - Sail Boston Festivals - Fish Pier in Seaport/South Boston Waterfront and the Charlestown Navy Yard
  • 7pm - 9pm - Sunset Salute - Musical and military entertainment at Fan Pier in Seaport/South Boston Waterfront

Thursday, June 22: 

  • Thursday Morning - Tall Ships depart and head to their next stop, Qu├ębec City, where they'll participate in the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.

Best Viewing Locations: 

Basically, most areas along Boston's Harbor-facing waterfront will provide excellent viewing locations for the Grand Parade of Sail.  Specifically, these areas include the Downtown Waterfront, North End Waterfront, Charlestown Waterfront, Seaport/South Boston Waterfront, Castle Island, and the East Boston Waterfront. 

Public access to designated secure viewing areas along the waterfront begins at 7am.

On June 17th, it is possible that you may be able to see the ships from Revere Beach as they assemble in Broad Sound prior to the Grand Parade of Sail.  They will be at a distance - so consider bringing binoculars if you try to see them from this location. 

You will also be able to see the ships from along the waterfront, such as Seaport and the Charlestown Navy Yard, during various events throughout Sail Boston.  

Want maps of visitor viewing and ship berthing locations?  Scroll to the end of this article - or click here.

Getting Around:

Expect streets near the waterfront where events take place to be closed, especially on Saturday.  If you live in or near Boston, take public transportation.   MBTA is offering 4 special T (subway) passes, including a $5 pass for unlimited travel on MBTA Sail Boston express shuttle buses on certain days, a $25 Commodore pass for unlimited travel on the T and local buses from June 17 - June 21, a $15 Day Sailor Pass for unlimited travel for 24 hours (based on when you first use it) on the T, local buses, and express shuttles, and a $35 Commuter Rail Day Sailor Pass for unlimited 1-day travel on any commuter rail train, the T, local buses, and express shuttles on either Saturday, June 17 or Sunday, June 18.  You can buy these passes at major T stations.  Please note:  there will be NO ferry service on Saturday June 17 because the Harbor will be closed for the Parade of Tall Ships that day.  More information:  www.mbtasailboston.com

If you live outside of Boston, you can hop on a special express Sail Boston bus to Seaport.  Once you're in Boston, shuttle bus connection service between Seaport, North Station, and Charlestown is available.  Express bus reservations/tickets (about $15-$20 round trip for adults) and shuttle bus tickets ($15/day) are required: find more information here:  www.sailboston.com/getting-here

Tall Ship Viewing Cruises & Boat Tours

Some of the best views of the tall ships will be by water.  Reserve a spot on one of the special cruises for a memorable tall ship tour around Boston Harbor:

Other Harbor Cruises on Boston's Adirondack III Tall Ship in June


More Boston Harbor Sightseeing Cruises

Where to Stay:  Hotels Close to Sail Boston Locations

For the ultimate convenience, stay at a hotel within walking distance of the Boston waterfront or areas in Charlestown and Seaport/South Boston waterfront where most of the Sail Boston events take place.

Here are hotel options by area:

Seaport/South Boston Waterfront

Thanks to the Convention Center, Cruiseport, and Rockland Trust Pavilion, this part of Boston offers lots of excellent hotel choices, many of which feature water views and other amenities. 

Downtown Boston Waterfront

Most of Downtown Boston is within easy walking distance to the Downtown Waterfront, so if you want to stay in this area, you'll have plenty of choices:

Charlestown Waterfront

Charlestown, a small historic Boston neighborhood just north of the city proper, offers fewer hotel choices right in the neighborhood, but most hotels in the North End and near TD Garden are within easy walking distance:

What to Bring (& Not Bring) for Tall Ships Boston

  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, maybe a hat - The sun reflects on the water, and may feel much stronger than on land.
  • Sweater or light jacket - June weather in Boston can be tricky, and especially if you are going to be out on the water on one of the cruise boats, temperatures can easily be 10 or more degrees cooler than on land.  Sudden thunderstorms are not uncommon.
  • Water - Although there will be plenty of places to buy water and other beverages, lines may be long - so bring your own.
  • Comfortable rubber-soled sneakers or shoes - Far better and more stable than sandals or flip-flops on deck if you're going on one of the Harbor cruises to view the ships.
  • Other Allowed Items - Shoulder strap or single-handle coolers, folding beach chairs, umbrellas, baby strollers, diaper bags (if easily searchable), small pocketbooks/bags (if easily searchable), glass baby bottles, blankets or tarps (10'x10' max).
  • Prohibited Items - Backpacks and large bags, coolers on wheels, firearms, weapons, sharp objects, fireworks, pop-up tents and canopies, alcoholic or pre-mixed beverages, cans, glass containers (except baby bottles), wagons, pull carts, drones, pets (except for certified service animals), grills, propane tanks, anything producing open flames, bicycles (bike parking will be available outside most security screening areas).

What Else to Expect during Sail Boston 

  • Large crowds - This is the largest fleet of tall ships to visit Boston in almost 20 years.  Based on the 18 million spectators who came to the last three Sail Boston events (1992, 2000, 2009), it is likely that this year's event will easily attract one million or more people each day.
  • Security - Expect a lot of security.  You can find a complete list of what you can and cannot bring on Sail Boston's website.  Check there as well for any schedule changes and other last-minute updates.
  • Spectacular sights - Large fleets of Tall Ships come to Boston only every 8-9 years - so don't miss this wonderful event!
  • Want to watch from home?  WCVB will broadcast the Parade of Sails live on Saturday beginning at 5am.

More Boston Tall Ship Cruises

These cruises take place from late spring through late fall:

Maps - Visitor Viewing and Ship Berthing Locations

These maps provide important information about viewing and berth locations for all days, as well as security, parking restrictions, etc, during the Grand Parade of Sail on Saturday. 

Please note that last minute changes can occur - so use these maps as general guides rather than an exact promise of what to expect!


Boston Harbor Ship Viewing & Berthing Locations, plus Closest Subway ("T") Stations - All Days

Green Areas = Visitor Viewing;  Red Areas = Ship Berthing;  T = Subway ("T") Stations (color in circle indicates which line(s))

Tall Ship in Full Sail - Sail Boston
Map courtesy of Sail Boston

Downtown Boston Waterfront Ship Viewing Areas, Security Zones, & Parking Restrictions - Saturday for Parade of Sail

Green = Visitor Viewing;  Red  = Ship Berthing;  Black = Traffic & Other Barriers;  Yellow = No Parking;  Blue = Security Screening Areas

There will be additional viewing/berthing areas in Charlestown, East Boston, and the South Boston Waterfront in addition to those shown on this map.

Tall Ship in Full Sail - Sail Boston
Map courtesy of City of Boston

More Articles about Exploring Boston

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