The Tall Ships Erie festival kicks off Thursday afternoon with the Parade of Sail.

City leaders are expecting large crowds this afternoon and all weekend long for Tall Ships Erie 2022.

For the first time since 2019, the Tall Ships festival returns to the City of Erie.

Mayor Joe Schember said this festival draws a crowd of more than 100,000 spectators and is a great opportunity to showcase the city.

Captain Billy Sabatini agrees that this event brings visitors from all over the area to Erie.

Sabatini said it’s a chance to highlight the Bayfront and local tall ships, including the U.S. Brig Niagara. He said it will give visitors the chance to see how much Erie has grown.

“We’re going to be bringing people in from all over the region. The phone calls that I’ve been getting have been (from) area codes I’ve never even heard of. So we’re bringing people into the city so that we can show them what we have, and then they’re going to come back. So I think this is important for us as a community, not just for us here at the Flagship Niagara League,” said Captain Billy Sabatini.

The four-day festival runs Aug. 25-28. The fleet of tall ships will open the festivities with the Parade of Sail at 4 p.m. Thursday. Festival grounds open Friday at 10 a.m. and the festival runs until Sunday at 6 p.m. at the foot of State Street, the Erie Maritime Museum, and the Bayfront Convention Center along the Bayfront in downtown Erie.

The Parade of Sail begins at 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25. Watch live starting at 4 p.m. in the player above. We will also have live coverage from the U.S. Brig Niagara tonight on JET 24 Action News at 5 p.m.