Nearly 200 years ago, fear spread through Baltimore when 40 British ships came up the Chesapeake Bay, aiming to sail into the city’s harbor.

Another flotilla will arrive Wednesday, but this time no cannons will be at the ready. Baltimore is playing host to a six-day “Star-Spangled Sailabration,” a maritime fete of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

More than 40 “gray hulls” and tall ships will dock at the Inner Harbor and nearby neighborhoods to mark the week that a young country declared war on the world’s greatest naval power.

The event, part of a multi-city tour, will feature visits onboard U.S. naval ships and those from Ecuador, Indonesia and, yes, even Britain.

Sailabration also is a chance to discover, or rediscover, the Inner Harbor, Fells Point and Federal Hill, all within walking distance of most of the ships. So after the deck tours, take time to explore neighborhood restaurants, shops and museums.

The people of Baltimore kept out the onetime British invaders, but their 21st-century counterparts are much more inviting. Click the links above to get information on what to see in those neighborhoods.

Details on Sailabration events:

Ship tours

When: Thursday-June 18, hours vary by location.

Where: Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Fort McHenry and Locust Point/Federal Hill neighborhoods.

How much: Free

What: The Navy’s Blue Angels are the highlight of the show, which also features four other acts.

Air show

When: June 16-17, 1-4 p.m.

Where: Best viewing is at Fort McHenry, 2400 E. Fort Ave. (concert and fireworks to follow); alternative site is at MedStar Harbor Hospital, 3001 S. Hanover St. The public can watch the aircraft take off and land at Martin State Airport, 701 Wilson Point Rd.

How much: Free

What: Music, kids activities, cooking demonstrations, food.

Sailabration villages

When: Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; June 15-16,
11 a.m.-9 p.m.; June 17-18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Where: Inner Harbor (with a small village in Fells Point)

How much: Entertainment, activities and demonstrations are free; food is for sale.

More information

For details on Star-Spangled Sailabration events, call 800-266-5699 or visit