Sultana Downrigging Festival 2023

Steeped in the rich maritime heritage of the Chesapeake Bay, the Sultana Education Foundation proudly presents the 23rd annual Downrigging Weekend Festival, scheduled for October 27th to 29th, 2023. This event stands as one of North America’s largest annual tall ship gatherings, offering a joyful blend of seafaring adventure, live bluegrass music, educational lectures, family-friendly activities, and of-course food and drinks!

A highlight of the Downrigging Weekend is the impressive fleet of tall ships that grace the waters of the Chester River. Four times over the weekend, these majestic vessels embark on collective voyages, providing over 1,000 lucky attendees with an unforgettable sailing experience. For those seeking a close encounter, closer to land, the festival includes three scheduled deck tours dockside.

In addition to the Tall Ship fleet, Downrigging Weekend presents a diverse array of exhibits, both on water and land. These displays, organized in partnership with esteemed traditional boat associations, offer a unique glimpse into the maritime heritage of the Chesapeake Bay. Select private wooden boats also grace the waterfront, adding an extra layer of maritime splendor.

Beyond the thrill of the tall ships and classic wooden boats, Downrigging Weekend is a beacon of purpose. All proceeds from the festival contribute to the Foundation’s environmental literacy programs, as well as other participating non-profit organizations. This unique blend of entertainment and altruism sets the festival apart in the world of maritime events.

Most festival events occur at the Chestertown Marina, located at 207 South Water Street. This scenic backdrop lends an authentic maritime charm to the festivities. Additional events are scattered throughout the charming town of Chestertown. For precise location details, consult the festival schedule.

During the festival, the Chestertown Marina transforms into the vibrant Music Village, a three-day celebration of bluegrass music, delectable fare, and wholesome entertainment. Tickets are available for individual Friday and Saturday admissions, or as a combined pass. Children under 12 enter for free. Early bird discounts apply until October 1st, making this a must-attend event for families and music enthusiasts alike. The Music Village is also open to the public on Sunday, free of charge.

The Music Village also promises a culinary adventure, featuring a curated selection of outstanding food vendors. From local favorites to culinary innovators, the festival invites attendees to savor the rich flavors of the Chesapeake Bay region. Remember, a Music Village ticket is your passport to these delectable offerings.

Located at 200 South Cross Street, the LEED Platinum Holt Education Center serves as the educational hub of Downrigging Weekend. This innovative center hosts an array of exhibits, presentations, and children’s activities throughout the festival. Nestled just three blocks from the waterfront, the Holt Center is a testament to the Foundation’s commitment to sustainable education.

As the Sultana Downrigging Festival approaches, mark your calendars for a weekend of maritime magic, music, and meaningful contributions. Join the Chesapeake Bay community in celebrating this cherished tradition, where tall ships and bluegrass unite for a cause. 

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