Tall Ships Races to fill Helsinki with sailing ships – 50 magnificent vessels, Baltic Sea protection and activities for the whole family

Helsinki will be filled with sailing ships from 4 to 7 July when the Tall Ships Races 2024 and 50 magnificent sailing ships arrive in the city. The event, which is the largest free-of-charge family event in Europe, will also offer a varied programme for the whole family. You can also watch the programme via the Helsinki-kanava channel. The theme of the event is the Baltic Sea and its protection.

Tall ships races sailing ships.

The Tall Ships Races is an international sailing event and competition for large sailing ships that is organised annually, bringing thousands of young people together from around the world. The event is held in the Baltic Sea every four years. Being the largest free-of-charge family event in Europe, it is expected to attract roughly 500,000 visitors to Helsinki. 

Helsinki is one of the host cities together with Turku and Mariehamn as well as Tallinn in Estonia, Klaipėda in Lithuania and Szczecin in Poland.

Ships from 13 different countries

A total of 50 large sailing ships will arrive in Helsinki from 13 different countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Lithuania, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland, Spain and Ecuador.

The ships, ranging in size from 10 to 200 metres, are divided by size into four classes. Depending on the size of the ship, the number of crew varies from ten to a hundred. One of the most striking ships is the 108-metre-long Dar Mlodziezy from Poland. Spectators will have an opportunity to visit the ships during the event. 

The sailing ship Dar Młodzieży.
One of the main attractions of the Tall Ships Races is the Polish sailing ship Dar Mlodziezy, which is over 100 metres long. Photo: Sail Training International

Bells will ring and a parade will march across the city during the opening ceremony 

The event will offer a varied programme for the whole family, fee of charge. At the opening ceremony, which will start at 11.55 on 4 July, the bells of Helsinki Cathedral will ring across the city to welcome the young sailors and ships. After this solemn moment, the ships will greet the city and its residents by ringing their bells and sounding their horns. 

One of the most prominent parts of the programme will be the Crew Parade, which will march along Aleksanterinkatu and Mannerheimintie on Friday 5 July. The ships’ crews will gather on Senate Square, from which the parade will make its way across the city centre. The parade will culminate in an award ceremony held on Lasipalatsi Square, during which awards will be presented to the best crews. Dj hapan korppu and the children and youth choir Vivace will give performances on the square.

Children’s News Park will be built in the Katajanokka park area in collaboration with the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. On the event days, children will be entertained by Skidit Disco, Mimmit and ventriloquist Sari Aalto, among other performers. Workshops aimed at children will also offer summer activities.

Circus artists with stilts, a unicycle, and a hoop.
TipTop Walkers will entertain spectators. Photo: Helsingin tapahtumasäätiö

In the event area, music groups such as Timo Lassy Trio, Olli Soikkeli Trio and Repin & Rauhala Duo will entertain spectators on each day of the event. The programme will also include performances by football freestyler Emmi Björn, acrobat Rae Reinvall, Linnanmäki Circus School and TipTop Walkers. Additionally, the event will offer a varied programme and expert talks on the Baltic Sea and its protection. 

The programme for The Tall Ships Races Helsinki 2024(Link leads to external service)

Protection of the Baltic Sea as the theme at City Hall 

The City Hall Event Square will feature a topical programme centred around the theme of the Baltic Sea on Thursday 4 July and Friday 5 July. Thursday’s theme will be ‘Sustainable Future in Successful Business’, while Friday’s theme will be ‘Baltic Sea, Youth Voice and Future’. 

“We wish to increase awareness of the Baltic Sea and the importance of its protection. Through the varied programme of expert talks, we can highlight different perspectives,” says Juuso Liukkonen, the programme producer for the event.

The programme available on City Hall’s Event Square is open to all. You can also watch the programme online via helsinki-kanava.fi. In addition to showing the expert talks, the Helsinki-kanava channel will also take the viewers to visit one of the sailing ships attending the event as well as the event area. 

Watch the Thursday, 4 July, program live on the Helsinki-kanava channel (mostly in Finnish)(Link leads to external service)

Watch the Friday, 5 July, program live on the Helsinki-kanava channel (in Finnish)(Link leads to external service)

Sailing adventure for young people 

The City of Helsinki will send 100 Helsinki residents aged 15 to 25 to sail on the ships participating in the competition. Communications Specialist Emilia from the City of Helsinki will sail with the group of young people from Klaipėda to Helsinki on board the German ship Johann Smidt. You can keep up with Emilia and the group of young people on their sailing journey via the City of Helsinki’s Instagram account @helsinki. 

Of the participating young people, 30 were recruited at the City of Helsinki’s youth centres, and they will go on the journey accompanied by youth workers. The rest of the young people were recruited via an open call. No prior sailing experience is required. The ships specialise in youth sailing, i.e. the sail training method, which allows young people to not only learn seamanship and how to sail but also gain social skills, practise working in a group, take responsibility for a group and develop their self-knowledge.

Crew on board the Guayas.
The Guayas vessel from Equador arrived in Helsinki on Thursday. Photo: Veeti Hautanen / City of Helsinki

Traffic changes on the streets and on water 

The event will cause changes to both traffic arrangements and water transport. The event construction work in the area will start on 1 July, and the dismantling will be completed on 9 July.

Street traffic arrangements in the event area(Link leads to external service)

Changes to water transport(Link leads to external service)

The organiser of the Tall Ships Races is Sail Training International (STI), a non-profit organisation founded in London in 1956. The event’s main focus is not on competition but on youth work. The aim is to promote young people’s education and cooperation irrespective of nationality, cultural background, religion and social background.

The Tall Ships Races Helsinki is organised by the Helsinki Events Foundation, which is responsible for the City of Helsinki’s event productions.

Published: 2.7.2024 14.00