Portland expects heavy traffic during Tall Ships festival

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PORTLAND — City officials are encouraging visitors to plan ahead and expect lots of traffic this weekend during Iberdrola USA Tall Ships Portland 2015.

The rain-or-shine festival begins on Saturday, July 18, and runs through Monday, July 20. It is the first tall ships event in Portland since 2000, and includes a parade of sail, tours of the historic ships, music, food, and more.

No street closures are planned, and visitors are encouraged to use parking garages and walk to the festival area, where there will be no dedicated event parking.

The festival is a combination of free and ticketed venues and events.

The free Parade of Sail on Saturday is scheduled from 2-4 p.m. Best views are likely from waterfront open spaces between Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth and Fort Allen Park on Munjoy Hill.

Festival organizers and sponsors are also providing a free concert on Saturday from 7-10 p.m. at Compass Park on the Maine State Pier. Space is limited at the concert venue, so arrive early to ensure a spot.

In addition to the visiting private Tall Ships, the U.S. Coast Guard’s three-masted sailing ship Eagle will be berthed at Ocean Gateway and will be available for free tours on Sunday and Monday.

Other Sunday and Monday events are ticketed, with entertainment, education, food, and ship tours available. Visitors are encouraged to buy tickets online ahead of time at tallshipsportland.com.

Shuttles will run on Monday every half hour from Thompson’s Point to 161 Marginal Way and the Hampton Inn on Fore Street. There will be parking available for $10 at the former Department of Health and Human Services building at 161 Marginal Way. For more parking information, visit tallshipsportland.com/parking-maps/.

Casco Bay Island and Nova Star ferry operations will continue as usual, but travelers are encouraged to give themselves extra time and to arrange parking ahead of arrival. Commercial delivery trucks will not be allowed to park in the center median lane on Commercial Street from Saturday-Monday.

No backpacks or pets are allowed in the event sites (service animals excepted), and all bags will be searched. Officials suggest leaving all but your essentials at home, in your car, or hotel room.

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The U.S. Coast Guard sailing ship Eagle will be berthed at Ocean Gateway in Portland for free tours on Sunday and Monday.