Bring it Home® Orange County

If you think that summer is ending in California, you’d better think twice! This is because the early fall months in Orange County and Los Angeles are some of the warmest and sunniest all year. They offer your family an ideal time to explore the cities, play and have fun at the stunning beaches, and enjoy the best that California has to offer. And what’s summer without an excellent festival?

There always has something you can look forward to celebrating with the several festivals and fairs in Orange County, California.

If you are looking for some fun, one of the most thrilling and historic things that take place in Dana Point Harbor is the famous annual Tall Ships Festival. The festival will be held from September 11 through September 13 this year. Note that the Ocean Institute annually hosts this event, and a large fleet of historic and tall ships sail into Dana Point. The great thing about this event is that historical re-enactors work as crews on these historical ships with history displays, which include exhilarating cannon fights, adventures with pirates and mermaids, and informative and fun tours of the ships. The Ocean Institute hosted the last Tall Ships Festival on Dana Point for the 34th year in 2019.

As a family, you will get the chance to tour real, amazing working tall ships and have an awesome time. You can also experience sea chanteys concerts, interactive living history encampments, thrilling cannon battles at sea, a fantastic arts and crafts show, an excellent boat parade, and a lot more.

Embrace History

History comes alive, as enthusiastic crew members from each ship and historical re-enactors fully engage and immerse the public in pirate adventures, cannon battles, and mermaid encounters! And the OC harbor town fully embraces its maritime history with this yearly parade of tall ships, complete with ship tours, an old-fashioned beer garden, and mermaid breakfasts.

Your children will enjoy having sumptuous breakfast with a pretty mermaid or learning to be pirates at the famous Cap’n Jacks Pirate School. Isn’t that amazing! And that is not all; throughout the weekend, this festival will have several fun activities that your whole family can enjoy, such as squid dissections, sailor’s life tours, gold panning, candle making, and even knot tying.  Keep in mind that before the start of this festival, the tall ships sail as a memorable parade at sunset, which is a sight to behold; you can get the best views from the breakwater behind the famous Ocean Institute.

And if you are a food lover, this festival has you covered as there will be plenty of tasty food available for purchase from both local restaurants as well as food trucks. You can also live music, which is great.

When did it Start?

The Tall Ships Festival at Dana Point Harbor began in 1984. It is the Ocean Institute’s leading annual event and draws thousands of Californians to Dana Point’s beautiful and stunning harbor. This remarkable festival celebrates the rich maritime history of California and our inexorable connection to the ocean. What is equally important is the fact that the iconic festival highlights the community’s vibrant and rich cultural heritage.

Richard Henry Dana’s timeless American novel, Two Years Before the Mast, chronicled this heritage succinctly. This was when the Pilgrim traded along and explored this beautiful coastline in the early days while Mexico still owned California. This festival is important as it also celebrates the return of the brig Pilgrim from the annual summer sail as a vital ambassador of goodwill for both the City of Dana Point as well as the Ocean Institute.

Did you know that the Pilgrim is a full-sized replica of the hide brig immortalized by Mr. Richard Dana, Jr. in his classic memoir Two Years Before the Mast? And since her historic arrival in Dana Point, thousands of kids have stepped aboard her elegant decks in order to take part in one of the several award-winning living historical programs.

Something for Everyone

Whether you are sailing on a tall historic ship, watching thrilling cannon battles, or enjoying other festival activities while listening to live music, there is something for people of all ages to engage with the adventure and history of Dana Point Harbor. Also, inside the informative Ocean Education Center, your children can check out hands-on lab and art activities, pirate school, undersea explorations, sailor training, and even a few mermaid swim encounters.

You can find a complete schedule of the weekend’s events on this festival’s website, and note that a few activities might cost extra. Also, you will get a discount for purchasing a complete weekend pass rather than paying for the activities by the day.

So, what are you waiting for! Purchase the pass and bring your family to the festival and enjoy a day at the harbor for this rich and fun annual event.