In front of hundreds of visitors to the port area, the Lord Mayor of Turku Mr Aleksi Randell, declared the Culture 2011 Tall Ships Regatta Turku officially open this evening. Backed by the band of the Finnish Navy, the fleet acknowledged the welcome the city had offered it by sounding the ships' horns, which rang out around the quayside.
The Lord Mayor was joined on stage by the Chief Executive of the 2011 Foundation, Mrs Cay Sevon and Chairman of the Culture 2011 Tall Ships Regatta, Mr Robin Snouck Hurgronje.
Earlier Mrs Sevon spoke of the need to protect the Baltic sea, on which the City of Turku depends. On the last Saturday in August (tomorrow) beacons (both real and virtual) are to be lit across the archipelago and south of Finland whilst promises are made to look after the sea.
A presentation was also made from Sail Training International to the Lord Mayor in recognition of the excellent work done, and continued to do, by the city in preparation for the event (pictured)
This evening the Captains are dining at the Gas Bell building prior to the fireworks, which will begin at 2300hrs.
The quaysides and surrounding areas have been packed with visitors today, who have been able to go onboard and explore many of the ships and also watch those sailing in and out of the river doing day sails.
The Culture 2011 Tall Ships Regatta is organised by Sail Training International.