When my boyfriend’s mom first told me about SAIL Amsterdam, I could not really grasp the size of this special event. She said there would be tall boats, shows and lots of people; among other things. Since I’m not the most nautical person in the world, I couldn’t understand what all the excitement was about. However, that changed when I saw the first images of the event. It looked massive, unlike anything I had ever seen.
It turns out that SAIL Amsterdam is not only the largest free nautical event in the world, it is also the biggest event in the Netherlands of any kind. Every five years hundreds of boats navigate along the North Canal escorting the magnificent tall ships which come from all over the world for this special occasion.
Now, if you’ve never seen a tall boat, you’ll probably be very impressed by their size. They can be huge! So much taller than some buildings! They are also very beautiful and feature classic design elements. Some of them are very old, like France’s Belem which is over a hundred years old and has led quite an adventurous life.
The event starts with a sail in parade that welcomes the tall ships to Amsterdam’s port. If you want to get an idea of how big SAIL Amsterdam is and how busy it gets, have a look at this impressive time-lapse video.
While the tall ships are docked, visitors are welcomed aboard. Also, during the 5 days that this festival lasts, there is live music, nautical displays and activities for the whole family. Well over one and a half million visitors come to Amsterdam to celebrate the Netherlands’ rich nautical heritage.
The best way to enjoy the magic of SAIL Amsterdam is, of course, by boat. During the event, hundreds of boats packed with people cruise around the harbor. Everybody is in a happy festive mood, enjoying a picnic on their boats with nice food and drinks.