Norfolk Harborfest Returns With New Lineup of Waterfront Attractions

Hailed by organizer Festevents as “the largest, longest-running, free maritime festival in the nation,” the 42nd annual Norfolk Harborfest is back in June with an impressive slate of waterfront events and attractions.

From June 8 to 10, Norfolk’s harbor will be bustling with all things maritime as the city welcomes tall ships and other vessels from across the region, pirates, mermaids, military boat demonstrations, and musical acts for visitors to enjoy.

Kicking off the weekend on Friday will be the Parade of Sail. Directed by the Virginia Pilots Association, the parade will feature power, sail, military, and antique boats. Participating vessels will be split into three groups: the Festival Fleet (tall ships, character and period vessels, and Navy vessels); the Starboard Fleet (boats registered with yacht clubs); and the Parade Fleet (individual boaters). The fleets will rendezvous nearby that morning and parade by crowds at Nauticus and Town Point Park.

This year, the festival’s tall ship roster boasts representation from all over the Mid-Atlantic. In addition to Norfolk’s American Rover and schooner Virginia, Bonny Rover (Newport News), Alliance (Yorktown), Godspeed (Jamestown), Sultana (Chestertown), and Kalmar Nyckel (Wilmington) will all be on hand to give visitors a taste of maritime history.

Other notable festival events include Coastal Riverine Force demonstrations on the Elizabeth River, a tug muster, the Chesapeake Bay workboats parade and race, the Build-a-Boat Challenge, and the Harborfest fireworks display on Saturday night. Visitors can also meet mermaids, learn about the pirate’s life from several performance groups, check out a Navy dive tank, and enjoy classic boardwalk games at the festival’s free arcade.

Plenty of food options will be available, and guests can dance to the music of numerous musical acts including The Family Stone, Pure Prairie League, and regional favorite Lewis McGhee.  

For more information about Harborfest, click here.

-Laura Boycourt