The Tall Ships Erie festival happens every three years, and it's now time to get ready for the next one.  Ticket sales went on sale today for the 2019 version and organizers say it's a good idea to buy early.  If next year is anything like 2016, some ticket options could be sold out before the snow stops flying.


The kickoff for the ticket sales was held today at the Erie Maritime Museum by the event sponsor, the Flagship Niagara League. Executive Director William Sabatini says one of the biggest changes for next year's event is that it will be held in late August instead of early September. 


He expects ticket sales to be brisk because a record 15 ships are expected next year.  That number would perhaps make Erie's festival the largest on the Great Lakes. The increase in ships will cause the festival area to expand.  It will include the Bayfront Convention Center, Dobbins Landing, the Maritime Museum, and the Port Authority Building.

There will be no school tours this year because of the early date, so the general public can tour the ships all days of the festival.  Fireworks are scheduled for Thursday night after the Parade of Sail. Live music, educational seminars, children's activities, a beer garden, and a vendor marketplace are scheduled for all three days thereafter.


There is a VIP pass that's sold for the festival which gets the holder everything including special parking, quick access to the ships, and a hospitality area for complimentary food and drinks. Sabatini says 1,000 passes are made available.  In 2016 they sold out in April.


A Thanksgiving weekend sale will be held for those passes.


"We're also going to be discounting the weekend passes.  The weekend passes will have an extra discount on it as well. So the VIP and the weekend passes are going to have a discount this coming weekend,” Sabatini said.


The Parade of Sail will be held on August 22, and ship tours and the other exciting events will be held the following three days.


Information on the Thanksgiving weekend ticket sale can be found online at