More than 40 tall ships from around the world will gather in Halifax Harbour this weekend for a festival of fireworks, music and a behind-the-scenes look at life on the high seas.

 

“The Halifax waterfront will look amazing,” said Leanne Strathdee, event director for Tall Ships Nova Scotia 2009. “Whether you stand at Casino Nova Scotia, or the Seaport, looking north or south, you will see spars, masts and rigging, all the way up and down the waterfront.”

 

The opening ceremonies take place tonight at 6 at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

 

The festival proper gets underway tomorrow, with ships opening to the public at 10 a.m. Ships will also be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The summer sail party will be comprised of ships from Brazil, France, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Germany, Barbados, the United Kingdom, Bermuda and the United States, making it one the largest tall ships gathering in North America in a decade, organizers say.

Two stages, Keith’s Festival Plaza and Pogue’s Wharf, will offer live Maritime music daily until midnight.

The treacherous pirate Roger Mack is back and will be seen battling his nemesis Captain John Loyal throughout the festival. Don’t miss the “night cap” of fireworks at 9:30 p.m. tonight, tomorrow and Saturday.

On the Dartmouth side, check out Pirate’s Landing, the Amistad, Peers’ Fancy, and a Kingston Class vessel from the Canadian Navy.

There will be four zones on the Halifax side and one in Dartmouth offering information booths, kiosks for ticket to board ships and family rest areas.

Catch the famous Parade of Sail from noon until 3 p.m. on Monday, and watch the ships serenely exit the harbour. Most will be racing to Belfast, but a few will linger on Nova Scotia’s coast, visiting Lunenburg, Port Hawkesbury, Louisbourg, Sydney, Pictou and Pugwash until Aug. 1.

“Tall ship gatherings in Nova Scotia have become a must for visitors from near and far,” Strathdee says. “Tall ships under sail simply make history come alive.”

For a full list of ships and events, go to tallshipsnovascotia.com.