All hands on deck for Gloucester Tall Ships 2015


Morganster - Credit: Archant

Award-winning Gloucester Tall Ships returns to port this weekend... savvy?

One lucky raffle winner each day will have the opportunity to don a water jetpack and hover over the

One lucky raffle winner each day will have the opportunity to don a water jetpack and hover over the docks - Credit: Archant

Gloucester’s flagship festival returns to the city this May Spring Bank Holiday (Saturday, May 23 to Monday, May 25). After winning Silver for the Cotswolds Tourism Event of the Year for the 2013 festival, the impressive tall ships will once again weigh anchor this spring for a weekend of live entertainment and activities.

If you haven’t been to Gloucester Tall Ships before, the unique sight of grand sailing ships moored in the UK’s most inland port is an experience to behold. Just ask the producers of Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass, who filmed here last summer.



Atyla - Credit: Archant

This year, you will be able to see four vessels making their Gloucester Tall Ships debut:

• Atyla

Hailing from Bilbao in Spain, Atyla was designed and hand built by Esteban Vicente Jimenez to the artisanal standards of 19th-century Spanish shipwrights. It was constructed between 1980 and 1984 with a mission to follow in Ferdinand Magellan’s footsteps and circumnavigate the globe. When the voyage fell through, the schooner found work in the tourism industry in the Canary Islands, ultimately staying in Lanzarote for 19 years. Atyla found a new captain in Esteban’s nephew and took part in the Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta 2013. Since then Atyla has been used as a sail training ship.

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• Vilma

The Welsh slate topsail schooner actually started out life as a ketch-rigged Danish sailing fishing boat in 1934 and built in the classic style. Since she was refitted as a classic Welsh schooner rig, she has been operating out of the Menai Straits. The Vilma will be taking part in pirate ship battles during the Gloucester Tall Ships festival.

• Morganster

Built in 1919, the Dutch brigantine started out life as ‘Vrouwe Maria’ (Lady Maria), a fishing ship patrolling the North Sea. After various improvements and expansions, the name was changed to Morganster in 1959. The ship has also been used for sport fishing and was once used as a radio ship for Dutch station Radio Delmare. It was used as a sail training ship during the nineties, but since 2008, Morganster can found sailing in European waters once again.

• Keewaydin

Built in 1913 as a Lowestoft sailing smack (a type of fishing vessel), Keewaydin spent her early years trawling the banks of the North Sea, until 1937 when she became a cargo vessel sailing the Baltic Sea. During the Second World War, Keewaydin ferried refugees from Denmark to neutral Sweden, and in one particular trip, transported 420 commandos to their destination. She was converted into a yacht in 1963 and had the distinction of entering the very first Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race in 1972. After being used as a charter ship in the Mediterranean for many years, she became a training vessel, and has moved home ports from Cardigan to Falmouth.

Boarding action

There is a £2 entry fee per adult, and children go free.

For the first time, you will be able to board the ships on the Saturday, Sunday AND Monday, so there won’t be any tall ship enthusiasts left high and dry.

Buy a wristband (children go free when accompanied by an adult wearing a wristband) and you can see all the tall ships at close quarters whilst also gaining free entry to the Gloucester Waterways Museum and the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.

Beat the queues during the festival by purchasing wristbands to board the ships in advance (£6 for the whole weekend). These are available to buy now from Gloucester Tourist Information Centre (28 Southgate Street, tel: 01452 396572), or from the Tall Ships website:


On water, you’ll be able to marvel at a whole host of scurvy seadogs as they take part in thrilling pirate ship battles with the odd cannon going off! You’ll even have the opportunity to speak with the pirates throughout the weekend. There will also be flyboarding displays over the weekend – one lucky raffle winner each day will have the opportunity to don a water jetpack and hover over the docks!

Land lubbers will be spoilt for choice with entertainment including Captain Jack’s swashbuckling adventures, a live music stage, a gaggle of Victorian characters, top quality food and drink, and craft market stalls.

The Gloucester Stone Carving Festival (May 23-24) returns to nearby Llanthony Priory, featuring stonemasons from up and down the country.

Gloucester Shanty Festival

In keeping with Gloucester’s folk and maritime traditions, the Gloucester Shanty Festival will be held for the first time with performances across the city centre to coincide with Gloucester Tall Ships.

May 23-25 – X marks the date!

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