Sydney Fish Market is hosting a day of Italian-themed activities to celebrate the annual Blessing of the Fleet, on Sunday, 25 September 2016. Visitors from the Sydney area and beyond are encouraged to join in the merriments with the local fishing community, in a centuries-old tradition that originated in Southern Italy.

The Blessing of the Fleet is also celebrated in the small village of Bagnara Calabria, Italy, on the same day as Sydney Fish Market’s festival, making this event extra special to Sydney fishermen who descend from Southern Italy.

Sydney Fish Market General Manager, Bryan Skepper, says: “The Blessing of the Fleet ceremony is not only a tradition for our local fishers, but it is also a colourful celebration of boats. This is a great sight for locals, curious tourists and families of fishermen to come down to Sydney Fish Market to enjoy.”

Bagnara Calabria, a coastal fishing town in Italy's Calabria region, is the birthplace of many of the Sydney fishermen and their families. This small town has long venerated Santa Maria di Porto Salvo as the protector and guardian of seafarers, and is very much part of Calabria's history, culture and tradition.

The festivities at Sydney Fish Market are held in partnership with the Association Bagnara Calabra Sydney.

For the Blessing of the Fleet, Association Bagnara Calabra Sydney commissioned a replica of the statue of Santa Maria Di Porto Salvo, from their home town. This ongoing tradition, which includes a blessing ceremony of the local fleet and visiting vessels, celebrates fishing communities from around the world, and the start of a safe and bountiful fishing season.

The highlight of the day is a colourful procession of the Madonna – the statue of the Santa Maria Di Porto Salvo. Literally translated, her name means St. Mary of Safe Ports or Safe Harbour. Father Christopher Slattery, parish priest at St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Strathfield, will conduct the blessing.

Following the blessing there will be a showcase of Italian-themed celebrations including live music performances and the ever-popular, yet fiercely competitive, spaghetti-eating competition.

The entertainment will take place on a floating stage moored next to the boardwalk, enabling visitors to enjoy the festivities while they dine.


WHAT: Blessing of the Fleet at Sydney Fish Market

WHEN: Sunday, 25 September 2016

• 10:30am – Blessing and the procession of the Madonna statue
• From 12:00pm – Live entertainment and activities
• 4:00pm – Event concludes

WHERE: Sydney Fish Market, Bank Street, Pyrmont, NSW, 2009.

COST: Free

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