Blessing of the Fleet

Sydney Fish Market invites Sydney locals and international visitors to experience its annual Blessing of the Fleet Festival, taking place on Sunday 29th September. Guests will have the opportunity to experience the rich heritage of the Australian fishing community and sample some of the country’s finest seafood delights.

Originating in the Mediterranean, The Blessing of the Fleet ceremony is said to ensure vessels and their crew have a plentiful fishing season and safe voyage on the seas. Holding strong cultural ties to the Italian and Australian fishing communities, the festival begins with a colourful procession of the Madonna, a replica statue of the Santa Maria Di Porto Salvo. Commissioned by the Association Bagnara Calabra, the Madonna is the guardian of Safe Ports or Safe Harbour.

Following this, Sydney Fish Market will be transformed into a celebration of live music, entertainment and delicious produce. Visitors can have the freshest oysters, prawns and crab expertly cooked by the award-winning retailers while more adventurous guests can awaken their palates with an array of alternative seafood delicacies such as sea urchin straight from the shell or salt and pepper fish roe.

The celebration also marks the only day of the year that the market’s fishing wharf is open to the public, offering visitors a close-up look at the quaint fishing boats as well as a lively and buzzing atmosphere complete with mouth-watering Italian street food.

Sydney Fish Market General Manager, Bryan Skepper says: “A centuries-old tradition, The Blessing of the Fleet is an opportunity for us to showcase and celebrate our community of fishers who are the backbone of our business. It also offers our customers a taste of the finest local produce from our award-winning seafood retailers and providores. If you’re a seafood aficionado or simply looking for a fun, family friendly day out by the water, everyone is welcome to come down and be part of the festivities”.

In addition to its sweeping harbour views, The Blessing of the Fleet is a great day out for families with its crowd favourite spaghetti-eating challenge and face painting, along with entertainment from Sincopa – Australia’s number one DJ Band complete with percussionist and saxophonist – which comes to life on a special floating pontoon.

Paul Bagnato, a local fisherman who hails from Calabria, Italy, has been involved in Blessing of the Fleet festivities for nearly 25 years, including ten years at Sydney Fish Market.

He says, “The Blessing of the Fleet is all about sharing our love of seafood and rich heritage with others. Each year we’re so pleased to see people of all backgrounds come and take part in the celebration. It’s a special community that is worth celebrating”.

GETTING THERE: The best way to get to Sydney Fish Market is via public transport.

Attendees can catch the Sydney Light Rail to the Fish Market stop, bus or walk to Sydney Fish Market. Bus services 501 and 389 regularly depart from the city. For route and timetable information

Parking is available on-site at Sydney Fish Market as well as additional parking at Sydney Secondary College, Blackwattle Bay Campus for a flat rate of $5.00 for two hours. Entry to Sydney Secondary College is via Pyrmont Bridge Road.