It began as a small event to mark the end of the schooner Sultana's sailing season; now Downrigging Weekend has grown to become one of the largest tall ship and wooden boat festivals on the East Coast, complete with activities for the whole family spaced over a long weekend in Chestertown, MD. One highlight is the opportunity to sail on one of the ships.

Now in its 13th year, Downrigging Weekend, Nov. 1–4, includes performances by world-class musicians; lectures by nationally recognized authors and filmmakers on topics ranging from the history of rum to the America's Cup; photography classes; art shows; pot-luck dinners; and ghost walks. Many events are free. (Sail fees aboard a tall ship range from $25 to $55.)

The festival is organized by Sultana Projects, a non-profit that first formed around the construction of the Sultana, a replica of a 1768, Boston-built merchant vessel that served for four years patrolling Chesapeake Bay. It was the smallest schooner ever in the British Royal Navy. Today, Sultana is a school ship, carrying thousands of children and other passengers on educational trips throughout the year.

Chestertown, on the Chester River, features wide streets, old homes, local history, a town square, restaurants, and local shops and businesses. It is one of the country's best-preserved historic seaports with a rich history that brings to life the importance of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers in the colonial period.

For details, call 410-778-5954 or visit