The Annual Maritime Festival in Dana Point will Return for its 39th Year

The tall ships will sail into Dana Point Harbor for the annual maritime event, where guests experience maritime history and unique encounters with legendary mermaids, pirates, and live sea creatures.

DANA POINT— Formerly named The Tall Ship Festival, the long-running Annual Maritime Festival will return to Dana Point Sept. 8-10. The event honors the four tall ships that will be in attendance: Spirit of Dana PointExy JohnsonBill of Rights, and Irving Johnson. The R/V Sea Explorer will also be taking guests aboard. 


The three-day festival will kick off with Sails’ N Ales, where guests can drink craft beer from local breweries, enjoy live music provided by Rogues and Exisle, and gaze at the visiting tall ships. 


Other Sails “N Ales activities include a tide pool touch tank, a shark exhibit, knot-tying bracelet crafting, festival crafting, make-your-own root beer floats, and a photo booth. Participating local breweries will include Docent, Station Craft, Lost Winds, Dog Pawrk, Delahunt, Bottle Logic, and Game Craft Brewing Company. Tickets for the event are $10, and tasting tickets cost between $8- $30 depending on the amount of three-ounce pours you purchase. Wine and non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase at the bar. Tickets can be purchased at


Cannon battles will launch all three days of the festival. Guests can step aboard the historic tall ships and set sail off the coast of Dana Point. While on board, you will learn about maritime history and experience the blast that is a mock cannon battle at sea. Beyond cannon battles, the tall ships teach participants about tower rigging, bustling decks, working with the crew hauling up sails, or sitting back and enjoying the demonstration of skill and history. Guests must be at least four years old to board the tall ship. The cannon battles will take place Sept. 8-10 from 3:30- 8 p.m. 


On the evening of Sept. 9 from 6:30- 11 p.m., there’s an invitation to a special event at the Ocean Institute — the Pirate and Mermaid Ball: A Murder Mystery Masquerade. Guests are invited to the second annual event to dress up as mermaids and pirates for this special event to enjoy an evening of masquerade masks and Tacori treasure troves. Guests should be prepared to work together to determine who the murderer is, all while feasting, dancing, and raising money for ocean education by bidding on auction items. 


Located on the grassy area by Baby Beach will be a sailor’s camp, live music, and a beer garden where passersby can see what “the pirate’s life” was like. The sailor camp will be open Saturday-Sunday from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. and will be set up with traditional tents, cooking equipment, sailors, blacksmiths, and pirates. 


Located in the fishing wharf parking lot will be the Seafarer’s Landing, loaded with food trucks, a beer garden, drinks, music, and picnic tables. Participating food trucks will be Taste Collective, Salt N Pepper Truck, The Family Pizza, Beach Bar Italian Ice, and Aloha Acai Bowls. 


In the main parking lot of the Ocean Institute will be the Peddler’s Village, where you can shop the fare of local craftsmen, artists, jewelers, and local vendors. The market will be filled with handmade candles, jewelry, clothing, coffee, baked goods, and accessories. 


Mermaids will be in attendance throughout the entire weekend. Guests can join the mermaids for breakfast with a brunch board provided by Maison Café and experience a dazzling swim show, story time, and photo opportunities. The breakfast will occur from 8:15 – 10 a.m. on Sept. 9-10. After breakfast, the mermaids will swim for their audience and display a dazzling production. Two shows will take place on Saturday and Sunday from 10:15- 11:15 a.m. and then 11:45 a.m. – 12:24 p.m. Finally, the mermaids cordially invite their admirers to Mermaid Tea by the Sea. From 1:15- 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, the mermaids invite guests to enjoy finger sandwiches, scones, and a variety of teas provided by Los Rios Tea House. At the same time, they swim, share stories, and take pictures with those who visit them in their portable tanks. The tea-time menu will include mini scones with crème and jam, swiss cheese and turkey sandwiches, butter and jam sandwiches, and bubble gum, and herbal tea.


The Festival Adventure Pass is available for Saturday and Sunday, giving guests access to the festival from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The pass is $20 for adults, $18.50 for seniors ages 55 and up, $17 for children ages 3-14, and toddlers 0-2 years old are free. Mermaid events, Sails’ N Ales, and the Pirate and Mermaid Ball are separate tickets. The Dana Point shuttles will run the entire weekend for the event to provide free transportation. Shuttles will be dropping off at the round-a-bout outside of the Ocean Institute’s main parking lot and will make pick-ups and drop-offs every 25-30 minutes. Shuttles will operate from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, and 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10. 


To purchase tickets, please visit


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