Tall Ships Chicago 2016: Highlights and events

Tall Ships Chicago 2016: Highlights and events
The Draken Harald Hårfagre (English translation: Dragon Harald Fairhair) reproduction of a Viking Ship will be coming to Chicago for the first time at the PEPSI® Tall Ships® Chicago festival

Beautiful, majestic Tall Ships from around the world will be gathering at Navy Pier for the Tall Ships Chicago Festival July 27th through July 31st.

It’s been three years since the popular Tall Ships have visited the windy city.  Their most recent Chicago visit was 2013, before that was 2010.

This year 14 vessels will be part of the festival that also includes Chicago’s own Tall Ship Windy–a state-of-the-art 148 ft. ship–that is docked at Navy Pier throughout the season offering rides and tours.

Windy. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Windy. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

A highlight of Chicago’s Tall Ships 2016 festival is that for the first time ever, Draken Harald Hårfagre, the world’s largest, most authentic Viking warship, is on the list of participating ships, however were having a problem raising the funds for what has turned out to be unexpectedly high pilotage fees and may need to cancel their Chicago visit.

The good news just announced, is The Draken will be coming to Navy Pier and is giving a big thumbs up to Chicago. Here’s what they said “We are going to Chicago! A big thank you to all the people out there supporting and donating to our fundraise sonsofnorway.com/draken – You made it happen!

An international crew of 32 men and women power the Draken

An international crew of 32 men and women power the Draken

The significance of this vessel, making its first trip to Chicago, cannot be understated. Draken Harald Hårfagre (English translation: Dragon Harald Fairhair) is named after the first King of Norway. It is the most accurate reproduction of a Viking warship to set sail in more than 1000 years.

The vessel was constructed by a team of veteran shipbuilders, craftsmen and artists that relied upon historical clues from archaeological findings, old boatbuilding traditions and the legends of Viking ships from the Norse sagas.

The ship is 115 feet long, constructed of oak, and equipped with 50 oars. It takes two persons to power each oar. Under sail, an international crew of 32 men and women power the Draken, all under the command of Captain Björn Ahlander.

Fans will have the unique opportunity to follow the Draken on Facebook to follow her journey.

In addition, there 13 magnificent vessels heading our way. Three of these have never been seen before at the Chicago festival:

  • the historic Spanish vessel El Galeón;
  • When and If, an 83’ Alden schooner
  • and the the 90-foot Fred A. Busse Fireboat

Show Me Chicago will be showcasing them later this week.

The schedule of events for PEPSI® Tall Ships® Chicago is as follows:

  • Wednesday, July 27: Festivities for the five-day event kickoff with an Opening Ceremony at Navy Pier’s east end and the Parade of Sail, (starts at 3:30pm.) a stunning spectacle featuring all the Tall Ships and other maritime vessels sailing to Navy Pier, with Chicago’s magnificent skyline as the backdrop.
  • Thursday, July 28, through Sunday, July 31: Guests can view and explore the 14 vessels, with unique opportunity to board, tour, and even set sail.
  • Each night of the event, from Wednesday through Saturday, there will be a spectacular fireworks finale to cap off the day’s activities.


Single-day boarding passes are $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Sail-away passes start at $79, and include boarding, touring and sailing. Tickets are available at the Navy Pier website.

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