The Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta is finally underway with 2,000 people flooding through the gates within the first 35 minutes, all eager to climb on board the 11 vessels open to the public.

A festival atmosphere has already been generated at Falmouth Docks where the ships are not the only attraction – a fairground, live music, food outlets, bars and a variety of stalls are all adding to the fun.

The four day event was officially opened ahead of the public being allowed in with Falmouth mayor John Body cutting the ribbon. He said: “It gives me great pleasure to see so many people here today for what will be one of the greatest events and of course the greatest display of tall ships to be seen in our very own local waters for many a year.

“As the newly appointed mayor, this is one of the greatest moments of my civic year thus far.”

Cornwall Council’s chairman, John Wood, said: “Cornwall Council is very proud to be so heavily involved. Cornwall is proud of its coastline, its harbours and ports, the sea around it and the influence of its maritime history and today is a classic example of that maritime history.

“This is a good opportunity for visitors to enjoy everything that Falmouth has to offer and to experience the Cornish hospitality.”

The Falmouth Tall Ship Regatta continues until Sunday with the ships moored alongside County and Duchy Wharves in the docks open to the public until 8pm tonight and from 10am until 8pm on Friday and Saturday.

There are entertainment centres in the docks, on Church Street car park and the main one at Events Square with a variety of activities taking place throughout the town. Sunday will see the Parade of Sail as all 46 tall ships undock and make their way across Falmouth Bay to the start line of the Falmouth to Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Race, off Rosemullion Head.