Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 14:57 UK

Royal visit for Tall Ships event

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Liverpool's tall ships spectacular under way

Princess Anne has visited Liverpool to launch the Tall Ships Race Festival.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to attend the event over the weekend to see one of the largest fleets ever assembled in the city.

More than 70 ships from around the world are berthing along the Mersey's banks until Sunday, before taking part in a "Parade of Sail" on Monday.

The Princess Royal toured two ships berthed at the Albert Dock and heard what life is like on board.

About 70 vessels have already arrived in Liverpool and most will open their decks to give the public a glimpse inside.

One million visitors

After Liverpool, the ships will gather off Northern Ireland for the start of the first race leg to Maloy in Norway.

The ships will then cruise to Bergen in Norway for the second leg of the race to Den Helder in the Netherlands.

It is the third time race entrants have visited Liverpool - competitors also sailed along the Mersey in 1984 and 1992.

Ships from more than 18 countries including Brazil, Poland, Oman and Germany are taking part in the event.

An estimated one million visitors are expected in Merseyside over the weekend because of the Open golf championship at Birkdale and the Tall Ships.

Merseyside Police has cancelled all leave for officers and said it has been planning for the weekend for almost a year.

With the huge crowds expected, visitors have been urged to use public transport and extra buses and train carriages have been laid on by Merseytravel.

Three park and ride sites with 6,000 spaces have been set up for motorists at Aintree Racecourse, Speke Hall Avenue near John Lennon Airport and Hooton Old Airfield in Wirral.


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SEE ALSO
Ships races set to attract crowds
16 Jul 08 |  Merseyside
Tall ships sailing to Liverpool
01 Jul 06 |  Merseyside
Tall ships return to Liverpool
22 Apr 04 |  Merseyside
Tall ships sail to River Festival
09 Jun 05 |  Merseyside

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