A family-friendly celebration of Buffalo's maritime heritage will be on display through Sunday with the arrival of the tall ships fleet along the downtown waterfront.
Dubbed "Basil Port of Call: Buffalo," the festival features a fleet of 12 traditionally rigged sailing vessels from around the world. The flotilla, representing ships from four countries, will line the Erie Basin Marina for tours and cruises through Sunday, then continue to the race’s next stop in Cleveland.
For those seeking to board the vessels, see historic exhibits or take part in any of the family activities associated with the display, here are some things the Port of Call Buffalo Steering Committee thinks you should know or consider:
Times and dates
11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday: General public ship boarding
11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday: General public ship boarding
11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday: General public ship boarding
Group boarding takes place 10 a.m.– 11 a.m. each day by appointment only.
Events and activities
• There's no cost to walk around and check out the 12 tall ships, which are docked at three different locations at Erie Basin Marina, near the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park and at Canalside.
• Boarding the ships requires a Passport voucher. They cost $20 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 and older and veterans or $10 for children 11 and under and can be purchased for Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
• You can also purchase tickets for tall ship “sailaway” excursions. Sail-away ticket holders should plan to arrive at least 60 minutes prior to ship departure.
• In addition, visitors will find maritime music, family entertainment, children's activities and other attractions.
• For more information on how best to get down to the waterfront, how to buy vouchers for ship boarding or excursions and answers to other questions visit TallShipsBuffalo.org.
• Instead of driving to the festival, use the NFTA-Metro Park & Ride options being offered at more than 20 locations, including LaSalle Station at 3030 Main St., and University Station at 3435 Main St. Nearly 14,000 parking spots are located along the Metro Rail Main Street spine, all within one block of a Metro Rail station or Canalside.
• If traveling on Route 33, use the Goodell Street exit to Main Street for access to parking and Metro Rail options.
• If exiting either the I-190 North or South, take Exit 6 (the Elm Street exit), then turn left on Clinton Street to Main Street for access to parking and Metro Rail options.
• Motorists are advised to avoid the Ohio Street exit off the Skyway.
• Visitors to Canalside are encouraged to park east of Main Street and Canalside, including paid parking lots on Washington Street, Michigan Avenue and the parking lot at Perry and Mississippi streets that operates during Buffalo Sabres games. Limited parking will be available in the lots at Waterfront Village, 50 Lakefront Blvd.
• Erie Street and part of Marine Drive will be closed, except to residents, marina slip holders and shuttle buses.
• Customers sailing on the ships and restaurant patrons can use the pay-to-park lots at Waterfront Village.
• Trailered boats will not be allowed on Erie Street.
Safety and security
Security will be tight for this federally designated Marine Event of National Significance. Before heading to ticketed-area screening gates, remember that prohibited items include backpacks, umbrellas, selfie sticks, food, coolers (except for baby or medical supplies) and all liquids, including full bottles of water. As of Friday, and for the duration of the festival, visitors are now being allowed to bring sealed bottles of water in response to climbing temperatures. Visitors may also bring empty bottles and fill them at water filling stations located in the event area.
• Handbags and camera bags will be checked.
• Strollers will not be allowed aboard the ships, but can be left at the gangways.
• Visitors are urged to be careful on docks and gangways when boarding the ships.
• Visitors are advised to wear safe shoes and avoid wearing high heels.
• Free dockside interpretive sessions with captains or crew from the ships docked along Erie Street will be held daily at 10 a.m. for those with sight, hearing or mobility issues.
• Qualified service dogs can be accommodated at the ticket area gates, but are not allowed to board the vessels.
• Boarding queues will be closest to the ships. Though the vessels can be seen from non-ticketed areas, getting close to them will require a ticket to get into those queues.
For more information, go to Portofcallbuffalo.org.