Tall Ships Sunderland: Festival draws huge crowds

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image captionMore than one million people are due to visit the festival

Huge crowds have turned out to watch the Tall Ships festival in Sunderland.

More than 50 ships from 16 different countries are taking part in the maritime event, which will culminate in a Parade of Sail on Saturday.

Organisers said more than one million visitors are expected to attend the festival.

They said they wanted the event to remain "a cherished memory in the minds of visitors for years to come".

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image captionOrganisers say the event is an opportunity to celebrate Sunderland's maritime history
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image captionThe Princess Royal was among the visitors to the event

Captain Baber Abidi from the Port of Sunderland described it as a "once in a lifetime experience".

He said: "It's a huge event for the city, for us as well, to pilot in some beautiful tall ships.

"It's a good feeling just to be on board, navigate them, handle them as well ... it's brilliant."

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image captionSunderland was once one of the biggest ship-building cities in the world
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image captionSunderland's harbourmaster said it was "fantastic" the city was celebrating its heritage

Sunderland harbourmaster Kevin Ullah said: "Sunderland used to make a lot of these ships.

"To get that heritage back and get the river full of masts again, it's just fantastic."

After leaving Sunderland, the ships will head to Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.

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