The Tall Ships' Races

Four days of beautiful ships for more than
500,000 admirers makes an unforgettable party

At the beginning of July 2016, fifty unique sailing ships departed from Antwerp to Lisbon for the start of the 60th edition of The Tall Ships Races. The huge ships were moored for four days at the quays, in the docks around the MAS and the Kattendijk dock in Antwerp. More than 500,000 visitors came to admire the cathedrals of the sea, making The Tall Ships Races the biggest event in Belgium in 2016.


To unite all people of Antwerp around their city, to work towards a positive sense of community and to strengthen the public support of the port. This included highlighting the historical, maritime and cultural heritage of the port and the city.


The City of Antwerp and Port of Antwerp have been designated by STI as organisers after their application. After an extensive tender round, in turn, they awarded the contract for the organisation of the 60th edition of The Tall Ships Races to the agencies Push To Talk and Sylvester Productions, in 2014. This tallied up to a total processing time of two years.


A multitude of people present the necessary challenges with regard to mobility, safety, well-being, noise, communication, etc. An additional production challenge was managing over 300 employees per day. Naturally, the very diverse and extensive programme also required the necessary production efforts.


Multitude of people

The city and the port monitored the complaints, but only recorded a total of three complaints spread out over a four-day event. This shows that the choice of implantation and the constant quality control have worked effectively.


The majority of the team consisted of volunteers. They were recruited by a call on social media. The entire group of volunteers was managed via a special registration site. In addition, we also provided a crew house with catering tent, etc.

Productional efforts

The programme included a crew parade, crew party, crew house with daily entertainment, captains’ dinner, hospitality events on the ships, performances at the MAS, after-work party, fireworks, European Football Championship on the big screen, exhibitions, etc.

What few know is that Sylvester and Push to Talk were also tasked with the recruitment of the ships for the race, which is why the event team travelled all over the world to attend nautical events in the years leading up to the race.

Four days of beautiful ships makes an unforgettable party

A ‘study on economic impact’, commissioned by the city of Antwerp, estimates that The Tall Ships Races generated 6 million euros for the local economy. A satisfaction survey, prepared during the event by conducting live surveys, also gives the following results:

  • 74.3% of visitors are very satisfied
  • 23.8% of visitors are satisfied
  • 90% of visitors would definitely return to the next edition

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