Visitors can now pre-book parking facilities online for The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018.

The Races – set to be the UK’s largest free family event in 2018 – will begin on Wednesday, July 11, when a magnificent fleet of 55 vessels will arrive at the port of Sunderland, at the North East coast.

This will mark the start of a four-day festival of entertainment before the ships depart for Esbjerg, Denmark.

The entertainment – which will include street theatre, food and refreshments, displays and live music – will be spread across four event zones.

Coaches, drivers and Blue Badge holders can make sure they enjoy everything the event has to offer – and save money – by pre-booking their parking spaces.

Four Park and Ride sites are in operation around the city, with capacity for over 3000 cars, plus dedicated coach parking at the Stadium of Light, and Blue Badge parking at St Peter’s Riverside.

In addition, fully accessible shuttle buses will run at frequent intervals between the event zones on the north and south of the River Wear to allow people to experience everything the event has to offer.

“I would really urge all visitors to get online and book their parking tickets now,” said Cllr John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Communities and Culture.

“We’re expecting more than one million visitors to the event and with so much to see and experience across the mouth of the River Wear a little forward planning can make all the difference.”

Park and Ride tickets pre-booked online costs £10 per car per day and will cover the driver and four passengers to travel on the Park and Ride buses.

These tickets will also allow the holders to access the event shuttle buses throughout the day of validity.

Additional Park and Ride passengers are charged at £4 each and under-fives travel for free.

If bought on the day, the Park and Ride ticket cost is £4 per passenger.

Blue Badge parking is also available to buy online with tickets for each available at just £10 per day – a 50 per cent saving on the ‘on the day’ price of £20.

The event schedule begins on Wednesday, July 11 when the ships will lower their gangways to visitors.

On Thursday, July 12, the programme of culture and entertainment continues when a Crew Parade will weave through the city centre, bringing a carnival atmosphere to the streets, followed by a prize-giving ceremony.

On Friday, July 13 a major artistic commission will take place on the riverside and local sail trainees taking part in the Races will arrive to join their ships.

Finally, on Saturday, July 14 the ships will take part in a spectacular Parade of Sail, past the coastal resorts of Roker and Seaburn, with onshore entertainment continuing well into the evening.

To pre-book parking and for further information visit

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