This year, Trieste celebrates 51 years of the Barcolana Autumn Cup Regatta (La Barcolana), organized by the Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano. This is one of Trieste’s premiere events for locals and visitors alike and is the world’s largest regatta. For 2019’s race, the organization had to place a cap of 2,700 on the number of entries, as the race has, over the years, become so popular that there was concern for the safety of the participants and their vessels. Last year, organizers registered 2,689 boats (see footage of the start of last year’s race below).

Sadly Barcolana’s kick off this year coincided with an unrelated tragedy in Trieste, where two police officers lost their lives in the line of duty. Thus, the Barcolana cancelled several centerpiece events like the Barcolana Chef (a hotly anticipated charity dinner featuring Michelin-starred chefs) in order to pay homage and respect to the fallen heroes.

Despite this soft opening to the festivities, this year promises to be just as exciting as last year’s.  At least 250,000 attendees are expected and as usual, there are TONS of activities on land to match all the ones at sea. There will be exhibits, educational events, theatre and music performances and of course, the Barcola Village featuring food stands, sailing gear, fashion, tourism related booths, etc. You can check out Barcolana’s interactive calendar with dates, description and locations so you don’t miss a single minute!

Some of the events on land that I recommend are:

At the local paper Il Piccolo’s headquarters you can see the entire collection of the Barcolana posters “UN MARE DI MANIFESTI”  a journey in time through the different posters and the graphic artists who illustrated them covering the last 30 years. Barcolana51’s poster was designed by illustrator Olimpia Zagnoli with the creative direction of illycaffè.
Free / No Reservation Needed

“BARCHE A VELA ALLE POSTE” Organized by the Museo Postale (Postal Museum) and the Spazio Filatelia (Philatelic Room) in collaboration with the 6idea Cultural Association and the Refe Espansioni, the star of the exhibit is “the sport of sailing” represented in an original way through posters, stamps, postcards and paintings created by a dozen artists from Trieste.
Free / No reservation needed

MARE & TERRA SEGNI d’IMPRESA fra ‘800 e ‘900
The exhibition recounts the history of famous brands born in the Istrian, Fiume and Dalamata coast, featuring a gorgeous collection of Billboard advertising and merchandising.
Free / No Reservation Needed

As for events to look out for on the water, (in addition of course to the main race on Sunday) there are multiple races throughout the entire 9 day period. I’m especially looking forward to the:

Barcolana Fine Art Sail (Sat Oct 12 at noon) featuring gorgeous hand painted sails.

Barcolana Classic (Sat Oct 12 10:30 is the parade of  vintage vessels and the race begins at 11:30) featuring the historic grand dames of sailboats.

Barcolana by Night (Sat Oct 12 at 19;00) A fun fast-paced night time race that takes place right in front of Piazza Unita’.

Truly, there is something for everyone! And make sure you check out all the boats along the Rive – It’s a party all day (and night) long!

Barcolana Experience is the title for the special, exclusive events you can book through Musement. Everything from a meal on a classic ship while watching the Barcolana Night, to a birdseye view of the race in a helicopter, tours organized to take you through the nearby Collio wine country or Karst, a day onboard a motor yacht and even passage on vessels participating in the race.

Started in 1968, the Barcolana is the regatta that last year broke the Guiness World Record for the race with the most vessels. The uniqueness of the race is that it pits amateurs against professional racing teams. Every year in October, sailing enthusiasts descend upon the city from all around the world. Circa 25,000 of them on approximately 2000 yachts and smaller vessels taking part in the 1.5-mile four-sided fixed course race on the second Sunday of October.

ph. Barcolana

The starting line is just in front of the Faro della Vittoria lighthouse and the finish line is in front of Piazza Unita’.

The Gulf of Trieste is a naturally formed “sailing stadium” and each year more spectators enjoy the race from numerous vantage points — a front row seat on the Trieste seafront stretching from as far as Barcola, Grignano, to the “Rive” in the City or from on high on the Karst hillside. Over the 50 years, the race has morphed from a competition among local sailing clubs to a week-long festival featuring many different boat class races and water sporting demos leading up to the main event.

So get out there, find your events and share photos of your #Barcolana51 experiences.

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