US Fleet Week Events

If you want to hang out with men and women in crisp, white uniforms, poke around inside well-armed warships, and witness the spectacle of aerobatic airplanes, then you’ll probably enjoy Fleet Week, a US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard tradition that reaches back to the early 20th century. A few US cities hold annual Fleet Week festivities that usually include military demonstrations and air shows — with the likes of the Blue Angels — as well as guided tours of the ships.

Fleet Week Port Everglades: April/May

damage control olympics, Port Everglades, Fleet Week, Florida
PO3 Morgan Dial, via Wikimedia Commons

South Florida has been welcoming military sailors annually since 1990 for Fleet Week Port Everglades. Signature activities include the Galley Wars Competition and the Damage Control Olympics, which call for teams of sailors to compete in mock-emergency events. There’s also the Hero Fishing Tournament and the McDonald’s Air & Sea Show.

NYC Fleet Week: May

Statue of Liberty, sailors, NYC Fleet Week
DVIDSHUB, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

NYC has hosted Fleet Week nearly every year since 1984. Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen show off the latest capabilities of today's military. Many events, including military band concerts, films and Broadway show performances, are held in and around the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on the Hudson River. This celebration ends on Memorial Day with a military aircraft flyover honoring those who lost their lives in service to the US.

Portland Rose Festival: June

dragon boat race, Portland Rose Festival
The Portland Rose Festival Foundation

Navy ships have been docking in Portland, OR, during the city’s annual Rose Festival for 80 years. The multi-week urban fair includes 4 parades, movie screenings, garden tours, a dragon boat race and, of course, the annual Spring Rose Show. The battleship USS Oregon visited the Rose Festival on its final tour before decommissioning in 1925. The mast of the ship now sits in Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

Seattle Seafair: June

Blue Angels air show, Seattle Seafair
Kaldrich, via Wikimedia Commons

Seattle celebrates Fleet Week during its annual Seafair, a tradition since 1950. Sailors come ashore to sample some of the flavor of the Northwest’s alternative lifestyle, while locals get a taste of life at sea. Seafair activities and events include the Blue Angels air show, Navy band performances and tours of the visiting ships, as well as the Milk Carton Derby, crowning of Miss Seafair and vintage hydroplane racing.

San Diego Fleet Week: September/October

Coronado Speed Festival, San Diego Fleet Week
San Diego Fleet Week Foundation

As the home of the original Fleet Week, San Diego celebrates with gusto with a concentrated party in the bar-dense and historic Gaslamp Quarter in the city’s downtown. The week’s signature events include the Big Bay Family Festival, where visitors can find ship tours, food and family activities; the Coronado Speed Festival, a vintage car race; and the Miramar Air Show featuring the Blue Angels.

San Francisco Fleet Week: October

parade, band, San Francisco Fleet Week
Seaman Conor Minto , via Wikimedia Commons

San Francisco Fleet Week has been held in and around the San Francisco Bay annually since 1981. The week’s highlights include an air show featuring the Blue Angels, as well as a parade of ships and a high school band challenge. The city’s Fleet Week mission focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster response preparations by hosting such events and activities as urban search-and-rescue training with the San Francisco Fire Department.

Annual Navy Weeks

Blue Angels, air show, Fleet Week
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

About 20 Navy Weeks are held each year in different cities throughout the US. The US Navy designs the events to educate Americans about naval service and to increase awareness in cities that might not regularly see the Navy at work. Navy Weeks are organized around an "anchor event," a large community event such as a state fair or a public holiday celebration, and can include the Blue Angels, Navy Leap Frog parachute team demos, Navy Band performances, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) dive tanks, flight simulators and SEAL fitness challenges.

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