There are a number of ports around the globe who promote and celebrate their harbours on a fairly regular basis.
In Europe some examples are Rotterdam, Bristol and Cork who are prominent in this respect. Similar activities are found in other ports around the globe. However, if there is one destination which stages, in their own words, the ‘Greatest Harbour Festival in the World’, it has to be the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg which, this year, from the 10th to the 13th May will celebrate Hamburg’s 829th Port Birthday.
More than 1.5 million domestic and foreign visitors come annually to this maritime festival of superlatives. Every May, the Port, the self styled “door to the world,” is truly impressive: Visitors celebrate the Port Birthday on the nearly four kilometre-long “Harbour Mile” along the Elbe between the HafenCity and the Övelgönne Museum Harbour. Special highlights include the breathtaking fireworks display, ship launches and parades, and the unique tugboat ballet.
The event has a long tradition. Since Kaiser Friedrich Barbarossa granted citizens of Hamburg a charter on 7th May 1189, which guaranteed exemption from duty for ships on the Elbe from the city to the North Sea, Hamburgers have toasted the birthday of their harbour.
However, the Port and it’s Tourism Authority doesn’t rest on it’s laurels. While the May celebrations showcase the Port and it’s activities, during September the spotlight highlights Hamburg Cruise Days which also incorporates a ‘Grand Hamburg Cruise Day Parade.’
Following a slightly rainy start to the event on Friday, September 8, 2017, the weather picked up on the second day attracting some 250,000 visitors to the Port to witness the Cruise Days Parade – the biggest in the event’s history.
Bathed in very welcome sunshine and an atmospheric waterside ambiance, visitors watched the gigantic ships manoeuvre to get into position for the Grand Parade. At 9:15pm, the formation was complete. Escorted by barges, sailing vessels and passenger ships, the AIDAprima, Norwegian Jade, EUROPA 2, EUROPA and MSC Preziosa majestically sailed down the Elbe against the backdrop of the illuminated Blue Port Hamburg. Each ship was waved off on its journey with its own firework display and rousing music.