Early online ticket sales have launched for this summer's Tall Ships Festival and include $150 opportunities to ride onboard one of the wooden vessels as the ships enter the Port of Los Angeles in the Aug. 20 parade of sail that opens the five-day event.
Those tickets are limited to 185 so those who are interested should purchase early, said Craig Samborski of Draw Events. The parade tickets, said Theresa Adams-Lopez, port public relations director, are expected to go fast.
The port is one of three West Coast stops for the ships that will be in San Pedro for five days through Aug. 24.
The wooden ships — replicas of the vessels that sailed the seas in the 18th century — mostly serve in educational and character-building programs.
They also draw huge crowds.
Billed by promoters as “The Greatest Spectacle on the Pacific,” a dozen participating ships will sail past Point Fermin Park and around the Angels Gate Lighthouse on the port's breakwater, cheered and waved on by spectators who typically line the waterfront with cameras and binoculars.
Those who buy a $150 ticket to ride in on one of the vessels for the opening Grand Parade of Sail will board in the Main Channel, sail out to rendezvous with the other ships off the coast, and then sail in together with the ship masts flying in full regalia for a final docking.
Aside from the parade participation, other ticket packages include:
• A multiday on-board ship tour pass ($19) that provides five-day access to the festival grounds, ship tours and other activities.
• A day sail ($85) on board the schooner Freda B and other vessels that will sail several times daily beginning Aug. 21.
• A single-day dockside viewing festival pass ($7 but free for children 1-4 years old) that includes access to educational workshops and entertainment.
Samborski, selected by the port in a bidding process, has produced tall ships festivals before, including a bicentennial event in August 2013 that re-created the Battle of Lake Erie and drew a quarter of a million people.
The festivals appeal to spectators on many levels, he said.
“These ships are history,” he said. “The other two components are being on the water, and it's a tremendously family-friendly event.
“Tall Ships Festivals are so cool because you have little kids all the way up to retired people — it runs the whole gamut of demographics. It's a fun experience.”
Samborski said the 2014 festival will provide more dockside entertainment, food and interactive activities than past festivals.
“One of the things I do is build in a lot of attractions and a lot of education,” Samborski said. “There will be sword fights and cannon demonstrations, a lot of food and beverages, a Ferris wheel so people can take pictures of the ships from the top. Then I pack it with entertainment. We'll have upwards of 20 entertainers per day over five days, and there will be a lot of sail-training opportunities to learn what it was like to be a crew member on these ships.”
Four stages will feature a wide range of music, from jazz to sea chanties and rock. Other features include wine tastings, food trucks, a craft brew menu, activities and crafts for children, a privateer encampment and outdoor movies beamed onto the sails of the ships.
Knot tying and speakers will round out the activities, with another “surprise” attraction to be announced in a few weeks, Samborski said.
This is expected to the largest tall ships festival to date at the Port of Los Angeles, where smaller festivals were held in 2004 and 2008. Samborski is working with the port on a traffic and parking plan that will include prepaid parking that will assign festivalgoers to specific parking lots for guaranteed spaces.
Plans are to come up with “four or five ways” to get into the festival area, he said, with maps being produced over the next several weeks.
“We've put some pretty smart people around the table,” he said.