June 1-12, 2012, Virginia will once again host an impressive international fleet of tall ships, Navy and military war ships to celebrate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.
Operation Sail (OpSail) was the brainchild of maritime historian Frank Braynard and IBM’er Nils Hansell as a way to promote global goodwill by bringing together the world’s remaining windships. The success of their first event during the 1964 World’s Fair in New York inspired four additional spectacles all centering around landmark American historical events. This year OpSail will celebrate events in New Orleans, Virginia, Baltimore, Boston and New York.
For a more intimate experience with the tall ships attend one of the local events in Onancock, Portsmouth, Cape Charles and Hampton to tour the ships and meet with the crewmembers. Festival goers can tour a majestic tall ship one day then sing along with Gavin DeGraw the next. A full schedule of events can be found at opsail2012virginia.com.
Patriotic Festival, June 1-3, 2012
Virginia Beach hosts the largest military festival in the region celebrating our armed forces personnel and their families. Each day enjoy the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Air Show featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels followed by a traditional concert series. This year’s artists include Miranda Lambert, Steel Pulse and Scotty McCreery. Admission is free.
Yorktown Maritime Weekend, June 1-3, 2012
Tour tall ships and military vessels along Riverwalk Landing then watch as they join together on Saturday during Yorktown’s first Parade of Sail. From Fifes & Drums to Navy Gun boats, education programs to concerts, Yorktown is the place to be to celebrate maritime history. Admission is free.
Sea and Air Parade of Sail, June 6, 2012
This event features an international fleet of naval vessels, waterborne and air assets from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, Army Corps of Engineers and other government and private organizations. The parade route passes through the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay at Cape Henry, through Thimble Shoals Channel via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, past Fort Monroe in Hampton, and into downtown Norfolk along the Elizabeth River.
OpSail 2012 Virginia Parade of Sail, June 8, 2012
The tall ships will make their way to rendezvous at Lynnhaven Anchorage in Virginia Beach on Thursday, June 7th. The Parade of Sail will begin at 7am on the morning of Friday, June 8th and follow the parade route from the Seas and Air Parade (above) into downtown Norfolk arriving at Town Point Park by noon. See the parade from Virginia Beach, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Chesapeake.
Norfolk HarborFest and OpSail 2012, June 9-10, 2012
The fleet of traditional sailing ships from all over the world will be open to the public for tours. Gavin DeGraw, Bruce Hornsby and Edwin McCain will take center stage each evening for a free concert. Admission is free.
Parade of Sail up the Chesapeake, June 12
As the fleet of tall ships depart, they will proceed in formation out of the Elizabeth River and past Fort Monroe before turning northward in the Chesapeake Bay towards their next port of call in Baltimore. This will offer a unique opportunity to see the tall ships in their natural environment – at sea.