Free tours of historic ships this weekend: What to know about Tall Ships New Orleans

Tall Ships New Orleans 2018 brings an international fleet of historic sailing ships into the city this weekend. The four-day event is part of New Orleans' tricentennial celebration and Nola Navy Week, which extends into next week. Locals can explore the majestic ships during tours that are free and open to the public starting on Friday, April 20 at noon.

Here is what you need to know to explore the ships this weekend.

Photo courtesy: Tall Ships New Orleans

What is Tall Ships New Orleans? Here's what to know.

Tall Ships New Orleans 2018 brings a fleet of six historic ships into New Orleans starting on Thursday. The four-day event includes free ship tours, a black-tie gala, a Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off and fireworks on the Riverfront.

Event organizers say the goal is to share the educational mission of each of the impressive visiting ships and the impact they have on our city. The event is also part of the city’s tricentennial celebration.

Tall Ships New Orleans coincides with Nola Navy Week 2018, which happens April 19 to April 25. Ships from the U.S. Navy, French Navy and Canadian Navy will line the shores of the Mississippi River. You can also tour the navy week ships for free.

Read more at FOX 8

Here's when you can visit the ships.

The festival includes free tours of the ships docked at Woldenberg Park on Friday and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. VIP FastPass tickets are also available for guests who want to jump to the front of the line.

Friday, April 20

10 a.m. to noon – Pre-arranged school and social group tall ship tours at Woldenberg Park.
8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.—Rides on tall ships, Lynx and When and If, on Lake Pontchartrain. (SOLD OUT)
noon to 5 p.m. – Tall ships open to the public. Admission is free.

Saturday, April 21

10 a.m. to noon – Pre-arranged school and social group tall ship tours at Woldenberg Park.
8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.—Rides on tall ships, Lynx and When and If, on Lake Pontchartrain. (SOLD OUT)
noon to 5 p.m. – Tall ships open to the public. Admission is free.
6:45 p.m. to 10 p.m.—Tall Ships Tricentennial Gala. On deck and dock side black-tie gala in Woldenberg Park. Tickets include drinks, food, dancing and fireworks on the River.
9 p.m.—Fireworks on the River

Sunday, April 22

8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.—Rides on tall ships, Lynx and When and If, on Lake Pontchartrain. (SOLD OUT)
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Tall ships open to the public. Admission is free.
11 a.m. -1 p.m. —Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off at the Capital One Pavilion at Woldenberg Park
9 p.m.—Fireworks on the River

Monday, April 23

9 a.m. – Tall ships depart New Orleans
11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.—Rides on tall ships, Lynx and When and If, on Lake Pontchartrain. (SOLD OUT)

See full Tall Ships New Orleans 2018 event schedule

Here's where you board the ships.

Head to Woldenberg Park on Friday and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to wait in line for the ships you want to tour. Four of the six ships –Elissa, Oliver Hazard Perry, Oosterschelde and Picton Castle — will dock at Woldenberg Riverfront Park. Event entrances are located at Conti Street and Bienville Street.

Here’s an event map for boarding tours:

Map Courtesy: tall Ships New Orleans

Here's what else you can do during the event.

Tall Ships Tricentennial Gala – Saturday, April 21 from 6:45 p.m. to 10 p.m.

This event is a black-tie evening reception on the decks of all four of the visiting tall ships. Dockside music, specialty drinks, local cuisine and fireworks make this a night to truly remember. There’s also a special appearance by the Victory Belles Museum. Tickets for the gala event are $300.

NOLA Navy Cook Off Louisiana Seafood Challenge – Sunday, April 22 at 11 a.m.

Chefs from the Canadian, French, and U.S. Navy and Coast Guard tall ships join local chefs in a Battle Royale over the best Louisiana seafood dish. Military chefs join local chefs: Chef Mike Nelson of GW Fins, Chef Michael Guolotta of MoPho, Chef Austin Kirzner of Red Fish Grill, Chef Tom Wolfe of the Omni Rib Room, and three Louisiana Seafood Kings – Chef Chris Lusk, Chef Keith Frentz of Lola, and Chef Michael Brewer of City Pork of Baton Rouge. The event takes place at Woldenberg Park at the Conti St. intersection. Free and open to the public.

Fireworks on the RiverfrontSaturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22 at 9 p.m.

Fireworks displays can be seen along the Riverfront during this tricentennial celebration.

Tour Various Navy and Coast Guard Ships – Friday, April 20 to Tuesday, April 24

Navy Week also brings ships from the U.S. Navy, French Navy and Canadian Navy. These ships include the U.S. Navy’s USS Kearsarge, USCG Cypress, and USCGC Benjamin Dailey as well as the FS LaResolue from France, and the HMCS Charlottetown from Canada. These ships are also available for free tours, with a separate schedule from the tall ship tours. See the full Navy Week schedule here.