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SAIL Amsterdam: Fleet of Tall Ships in Amsterdam Harbor

DutchAmsterdam.nl — Once in every five years Amsterdam harbor — one of Europe’s busiest ports — become the backdrop for one of the largest maritime manifestations in the world: SAIL

For five days, from August 19th through August 23rd, the river IJ (pronounced somewhat like eye) behind Amsterdam’s Central Station will be filled with music, culture and some 600 boats, including many historic vessels and a huge number of impressive tall ships from all over the world.


This is an archived article. The next SAIL Amsterdam event takes place from August 12 through August 16, 2020.

Details will be posted here well ahead of time.

Program Highlights

August 19: Sail-In Parade
One of the most popular events during SAIL is the festive boat parade in which hundreds of ships will sail the Noordzeekanaal (Northsea Canal) from the seaport town of IJmuiden to Amsterdam. The parade, which lasts from 10:00 am through 3:00 pm, is led by the magnificent fleet of tall ships.

Find a place anywhere on the North or Southside of the IJ, but note that the best spots will be taken up hours before the parade begins.

Daily: Tall Ship Viewing Hours

All ships are accessible to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Exceptions to this are the Clipper Stad Amsterdam, which can be visited until 12:00 p.m., and the G̦theborg, which is accessible from 10:00 a.m. Р11:30 a.m. and again from 7:00 p.m. Р9:00 p.m.

For the first time at SAIL, there will also be various short performances on the decks of some tall ships.

Daily: Fireworks
Each night at 10:15 (10:00 on Saturday) all eyes turn to the sky above the IJ for a fifteen-minutes fireworks show.

August 20: “Pieremachochel” boat carnival

Originally the term pieremachochel indicated a small rowing boat. Later it was used of small boats that were in a poor state of repair, or that otherwise looked like they were not fit for sailing.

Later still the term also referred to impromptu, homemade vessel which — more often than not — were created out of something that was originally not intended to be used as part of a boat. Previous piermemachochel parades have included anything from bathtubs to a raft powered by a Harley Davidson.

This parade, which takes place during every SAIL, is one the funniest events to witness in Amsterdam. It will takes place from 1:00 pm through 4:00 pm on the canal route that runs via Westerdok, via the Korte Prinsengracht, the Prinsengracht and the Plantage Muidergracht to Enterpotdok.

Arrive early for the best spots.

August 23: Tall Ship Departure

Between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm the tall ships are heading out to sea again.

For more program highlights visit the official SAIL 2010 website.

Amsterdam Map for SAIL 2010

Amsterdam Sail 2010 MapoffsitePDF file

Note: while the City of Amsterdam is hard at work trying to attact tourists, this map — found on the English-language website of SAIL 2010 — includes information in Dutch only. (We’re speechless, and not for the first time either…).

The map shows Amsterdam Central Station on the left. You can either walk through Central Station, or take the suggested route past the St. Nicholas Church.

  • The dotted purple line with the walking figure indicates the suggested walking route. Note the direction, which is important because the ferries you’ll need to complete the route sail in one direction only for the duration of the event. The entire route should take anywhere from one to two hours to walk.
  • The blue/white vessels with the letters GVB underneath are free ferries. During SAIL the ferries shown only sail in one direction as indicated by the arrows.
  • The pink icons showing a fork and spoon indicate spots where you can get something to eat and drink.
  • The green icons with a man/woman indicate the location of public toilets.
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