It’s the biggest and oldest event of its kind in the world: This weekend, the internationally-acclaimed United States Sailboat Show is celebrating its 49th year. Set against the backdrop of historic Annapolis, Ego Alley and the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, nearly 50,000 sailors and sailboat enthusiasts from around the globe attend the annual boat show, where they peruse the latest in sailing vessels, attend demos and workshops and see the world’s largest collection of catamarans and trimarans. 

Annapolis Sailboat Show features

If you’ve never been to the show before, you’re in for a fantastic, if somewhat overwhelming, weekend. Between all the seminars, workshops, manufacturers (this is the only boat show where virtually every major sailboat manufacturer is represented) and hundreds of other exhibitors, the U.S. Sailboat Show is a lot to take in, and it always helps to know exactly what’s in store. Find an overview of the 2018 show below, or take a look at the official show guide for a more in-depth description of what’s offered. 

Free seminars. Friday through Sunday, free seminars on sailing, cruising and systems will be held at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel. Seminars range in topic from sailboat plumbing to getting your captain’s license to exploring towns on the Chesapeake by boat. 

Exhibitors. As always, hundreds of exhibitors will occupy the booths on land selling all things boating-related, from diesel engines to insurance (and lots of clothing, jewelry and furniture for the non-sailors, too). The full list of exhibitors and products is available here.

Vacation Basin. If retiring on a yacht, owning your own charter boat or traveling the world by way of the sea sounds appealing to you, the show’s Vacation Basin will help make your dreams come true. Charter companies and tourism boards are on-hand to offer their wisdom and boat show discounts.

Sailing the deep blue sea is within the realm of possibility in the Meditteranean Corner, a new tent at the show where visitors can learn more about sailing the Meditteranean and make direct travel bookings. Charter companies from Greece and Croatia are on hand to show off their fleets and hold daily presentations. Those who visit the MedCorner will additionally have the chance to win 10 free yacht charter weeks.

New and premiering sailboats. Be one of the first to see some of the newest sailboats on the line, only in Annapolis. Eight boats will be premiering at the boat show, and 15 new models will debut with updated designs and additions.

Grand prize. This year’s grand prize, sponsored by The Moorings, includes a seven-day charter to the British Virgin Islands aboard the Moorings 4800 Sailing Catamaran, ideal for up to eight guests. The charter is valued at $15,000. Guests who purchase their tickets online will be automatically entered to win the grand prize. 

Sailboat Show details

Hours. Preview Day on Oct. 4, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Friday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.; Monday, Oct. 8, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission. Preview Day: $35. Adult one-day admission: $18. Child one-day admission: $5. Two-day combo ticket: $31. Children ages six and under are free. Buy tickets online and be automatically entered to win the Grand Prize. 

Parking. Parking is limited during the Boat Shows, especially on the street and in the downtown garages, so it’s best to have your plan ready before you leave the house. 

Attendees are encouraged to park at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for $10 and take the free shuttle bus to the show. The shuttle runs from 9 a.m. to an hour after the show closes. Parking is also available at Eastport Elementary School, just a short walk from Eastport to City Dock. 

Handy tips:

  • With the first weekend of October comes unpredictable weather in Annapolis, usually consisting of cool mornings and nights and hotter afternoons when the sun is out. Check the daily forecast, dress like it’s summer and come prepared with layers like it’s fall. 
  • Some boats require you take your shoes off before stepping on-board; wear shoes that can be easily slipped on and off. 
  • Bring cash. Some vendors may not accept credit, and lines will move faster when patrons pay in cash. 
  • Pets are not allowed, and strollers are strongly discouraged. 
  • Download the map and know where you’re going!