The wind in the sails

About SAIL

Come on board for SAIL Amsterdam 2020


Between August 12 and August 16, Amsterdam will be the backdrop for a stunning fleet of tall ships, heritage sailing boats and navy vessels as the 10th edition of SAIL takes place. Experience the biggest free event in the Netherlands. SAIL Amsterdam will bring you into contact with ships, crews and visitors from all over the world. Will you sail with us?

A sail celebration to mark the 700th anniversary of Amsterdam’s foundation


Since 1975, every five years tall ships have headed to Amsterdam from all over the globe. The first SAIL was organised by the city’s port 45 years ago as part of the celebrations to mark 700 years since Amsterdam was founded. It was such as success that it became a regular event, staged at five year intervals and has grown into the biggest free public event in the Netherlands. Check out the highlights of the nine previous editions below and look forward to celebrating the 10th edition.

Zwart wit foto van het oude koningshuis op een boot
Zwart wit foto van een van de eerste SAIL evenementen in Amsterdam
Gigantisch groot zeilschip vaart  de haven van Amsterdam binnen terwijl mensen in de masten staan
Logo van SAIL 95
Koning Willem Alexander op de boot van het koningshuis De Groene Dreack
honderd boten in het IJ van Amsterdam
Rood logo SAIL Amsterdam 2010 met amsterdamse kruizen
Guayas zeilboot met Colombiaanse vlag
Groep klappende mensen en iemand die een bel

The first SAIL, dubbed SAIL Amsterdam 700, took place from Friday, August 15 to Monday, August 18 as the port of Amsterdam’s contribution to the city’s 700th anniversary celebrations. In total 18 large and more than 500 training ships, together with a massive flotilla of old Dutch yachts and sailing boats, gathered for the weekend on Amsterdam’s IJ waterway. The harbour area looked like it did centuries ago, when the East Indiamen and fishing boats dominated the waterfront. Lots of different events were organised on land around the nautical theme.

Mayor: Ivo Samkalden  Number of visitors: 700,000  Weather: 20 Celsius

After the success of the first edition, SAIL Amsterdam 1980 attracted more than 1,000 sailing ships and 10,000 smaller boats to Amsterdam. The mayor said at the time: ‘Our sailors are typified by their love of old ships and their powers of endurance. It is thanks to them that these old Dutch ships have not disappeared and can be seen in their full glory during SAIL.’

Mayor: Wim Polak   Number of visitors: 1,000,000  Weather: 19 Celsius

In the 17th century, Amsterdam was one of the world’s most important trading centres and the third edition of SAIL really brought this home. Two projects made SAIL Amsterdam 1985 particularly special: plans to build a real Dutch windjammer and a real VOC ship at the SAIL location itself. SAIL 1985 broke more records and became one of the biggest nautical events in the world.

Mayor: Ed van Thijn   Number of visitors: 1.4 million   Weather: 19 Celsius

By 1990 an event dreamt up to celebrate 700 years of Amsterdam had gone global. The organisation had professionalised thanks to the support of financial sponsors and SAIL was fast becoming a tradition for sailors and maritime history devotees around the world.

Mayor: Ed van Thijn   Number of visitors: 1.6 million   Weather: 26 Celsius

In 1995 the event was extended to five days and again more than 1,000 ships with 8,000 crew sailed into Amsterdam. SAIL Amsterdam 1995 saw the IJ waterway become the world’s busiest port and the event itself became the biggest festival of maritime history in the world.

Mayor: Schelto Patijn   Number of visitors: 1.6 million   Weather: 26 Celsius

The start of the new millennium saw SAIL continue to develop, with more ships, more visitors and more pulling power. SAIL remained a free event, attracting hundreds and thousands of people to line the North Sea Canal to greet the tall ships and other boats.

Mayor: Schelto Patijn   Number of visitors: 2.4 million   Weather: 22 Celsius

The SAIL Amsterdam 2005 motto ‘Enjoy a world of friendships’, brought a new dimension to the event by focusing on uniting the world and different cultures through maritime history.

Mayor: Job Cohen   Number of visitors: 2.6 million   Weather: 24 Celsius

SAIL Amsterdam 2010 took place from Thursday, August 19 to Monday, August 23 and brought with it once again an ‘organised chaos’ of tall ships and heritage boats, alongside visitors from all over the world.

Mayor: Eberhard van der Laan   Number of visitors: 1.7 million   Weather: 24 Celsius

SAIL Amsterdam 2015 was given a new direction by the involvement of SAIL Event Partners, which expanded the event location into five thematic areas or oceans, allowing everyone to enjoy the tall ships, unique concerts, innovation, guided tours and exhibitions.

Mayor: Eberhard van der Laan   Number of visitors: 2.3 million   Weather: 25 Celsius

SAIL celebrates its 10th anniversary and is now officially the biggest free event in the Netherlands. Tall ships from all over the world will once again return to Amsterdam, from August 12 to 16 under the motto ‘SAIL unites the world’.

Mayor: Femke Halsema   Number of visitors:  unknown   Weather: unknown


SAIL Amsterdam Foundation

The success of the very first SAIL in 1975 prompted the establishment of the SAIL Amsterdam Foundation as event organiser.

Read more

Portretfoto van Directeur Defensie Materiaal Organisatie


Vice admiral Arie Jan de Waard

Chairman SAIL Amsterdam Foundation

Portretfoto van Directeur Stichting SAIL Amsterdam


Mitra Van Raalten

Director SAIL Amsterdam Foundation

Portretfoto van Vice-voorzitter SAIL Amsterdam

Deputy chairman

Marjolijn Jansen

Member of the Land Registry board

Portretfoto van penningmeester SAIL Amsterdam


Bart Parment

Director Overijssel provincial authority

Portretfoto van programmamanager SAIL Amsterdam

Board member

Robbert Jan van den Oord

Project manager KN DCWS, Defence Material Organisation

Portretfoto van bestuurslid SAIL Amsterdam

Board member

Pedro Stunnenberg

Strategic advisor, Ministry of Defense

Portretfoto van Bestuurslid Sail Amsterdam

Board member

Micha Wijngarde

Partner Wijngarde, Beekers & Verhoeven

Board member

Morris Nieuwenhuis

Communicatieadviseur social media Koninklijke Marine


SAIL Event Partners

SAIL Event Partners was set up in April 2014 to organise all SAIL events and ensure their continuity. It is an alliance between the SAIL Amsterdam Foundation, Ace Concepts & Events and the Port of Amsterdam.

Read on

Portretfoto van algemeen directeur Reineke Boot


Reineke Boot

SAIL Event Partners C.V.

Portretfoto van financieel directeur Bas de Bouter

Financial director

Bas de Bouter

SAIL Event Partners C.V.

Rood logo SAIL Amsterdam 2020

SAIL Amsterdam Foundation

Blauw logo ACE concepts + events

ACE Concepts & Events

Port of Amsterdam in blauwe tekst met rood logo

Port of Amsterdam


The project team

SAIL Amsterdam 2020 is organised by the project team. The various teams within the main team are being expanded to bring in new skills and expertise in the run-up to SAIL. And the support of over 2,000 volunteers is crucial to making SAIL a success.

Strengthening SAIL Amsterdam 2020


Sustainability, inclusivity and developing talent

How will SAIL maintain its relevance?  First of all, by emphasising the way it draws together ships, crews and visitors. But SAIL also focuses on three concrete themes: sustainability, inclusivity and developing talent. You can find out more about the way SAIL is boosting sustainability here


More about sustainability

Developing talent


SAIL Academy

The SAIL academy is all about talent and we offer various internships and other work experience options. Of course we have our own requirements but we are keen to find out what you consider to be important, what makes you passionate and how working at SAIL can contribute to your education. This means you will not only develop ties to SAIL, but with the other companies and local authorities which are involved. In all, SAIL is a great place to work on your talent and benefit our partners at the same time


To SAIL Academy

SAIL unites the world

Share your favourite moments #SAIL2020

Clipper Stad Amsterdam omringt door mensen met de Nederlandse vlag aan de achterkant

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