Metro Halifax file photo The Brazilian naval ship Cisne Branco (left) and the Russian tall ship Kruzenshtern leave during the Parade of Sail in 2009.

In just four days, downtown Halifax will be bombarded with thousands of people ready to celebrate another tall ships festival in the city.

More than 20 ships will be docked along the harbour starting Thursday with over 400 crewmembers ready to share their nautical stories and give tours.

“We’re showcasing the best of Nova Scotia, through the ships, history, music and food,” said Leanne Strathdee, director of marketing and communications for the Waterfront Development, who is hosting the festival.

The Tall Ships have been coming to Halifax since 1984. Over 600,000 people came to the last festival in 2009.

Providing a backdrop for an abundance of activities happening around the waterfronts in Halifax and Dartmouth, this is the last stop on the Atlantic Challenge tall ships race.

Strathdee said the theme this year is centered on the War of 1812.

Local composer Christopher Palmer has worked with CBC to arrange a 2012 Overture. Performed by the Tall Ships Orchestra, the overture will have its world premiere Saturday night. They will also perform the 1812 Overture.

Other musicians will also be performing throughout the weekend, and Hey Rosetta! is having a special show on George’s Island Saturday.

Food vendors will also be set up along the waterfront every day of the five-day event.

“Parking will be limited downtown. We’re advising people take transit or find an alternative way to get to events,” said Strathdee.

The Downtown Halifax Business Commission will provide a free transportation service on a blue double-decker bus.

The festivities end Monday at noon during the popular Parade of Sail, when each of the ships will parade down the harbour and sail off to other ports around the province.

Two-day stops include Lunenberg, Port Hawkesbury, Pictou, Shelburne and Pugwash.

All aboard

The tall ships can be boarded from noon to 5 p.m. on. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

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