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Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy

4th June 2019

Held annually over a weekend in midsummer, the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy is a popular event. This year’s festival looks set to be another successful occasion and is expected to be attended by around 16,000 people over the 22nd and 23rd June 2019.

In this feature review, we take a look at what you can expect if you are planning to go along.

26th Annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy

2019 will mark the 26th anniversary of the festival at Portsoy and will once again be a great family day out. As well as celebrating our rich maritime roots, the event also showcases the best in local music, food, crafts and small businesses. Perfect for young and old, the schedule of events includes the popular raft race competition, food fayre, children’s activities and, of course, the highlight of the festivities, traditional Scottish boats.

Here at FAFB, we have a vested interest in the Portsoy festival as it is one of the regular local events that is attended by the Isabella Fortuna. A traditional Scottish ‘Fifie’ that has been lovingly restored by the Wick Society

You can see the Isabella Fortuna and lots of other great examples of regional Scottish (and other) boats at the Portsoy festival.


Whilst offering a great day out with great diversity of activities and entertainment, the principle purpose of the festival is to keep alive the maritime heritage of this area of the world. Scotland’s culture is polarised by its history of both the highlands and its coastal communities but it is to the sea where the Portsoy festival shines its brightest spotlight.

Bringing together craft of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, the two-day event is a celebration of both modern and historic boats. From traditional wooden fishing vessels, cutters and sloops to sailing yachts, high-tech motorised vessels and clinker dinghies, there is something for every boat fan.

Not only do you get to watch some of these vessels race and display their prowess at sea but most offer the opportunity for visitors to come aboard and speak with the crew and skippers.

And, for those who like to get involved, there’s still time to bring along your own boat to show off to the crowds by contacting the Maritime Coordinator

Along with the aforementioned Isabella Fortuna, these are just some of the boats you can expect to see at this years festival:

  • Cailleach Dhubh Gaff cutter.
  • Carinella 1960s Miller of St Monans Fifer restored in 2015.
  • Comet BF 430 Nobles of Girvan fishing vessel originally launched in 1961.
  • Deineira A mahogany on oak pocket sloop built in 1964.
  • Douglas Currie EX RNLI 48’ 6” Solent class lifeboat.
  • Eaglewing Built in 1963, a classic gunter rigged clinker dinghy.
  • Fruitful Fifie Yawl built in 1955.
  • Genesis Modern cruising yacht.
  • Gitte Marie 1940s Classic Danish motor fishing vessel.
  • Jan Jan A bilge keel masthead sloop.
  • Lady Vi A Westerly Tempest built in 1988.
  • Nauti Buoy A Leeward 18 Motor Cruiser.
  • Raasay A Rival 34 built in 1972.
  • Seawraith A 1930s classic wooden “Windfall Yacht” built in Germany
  • Solan 25 ft sailing yacht
  • Spindrift A GRP reproduction of the Loch Broom Post Boat.
  • Struan A 1984 LM28 bilge keel Motor sailor.
  • Toraidhead A Caledonian Yawl.
  • White Wing A 33 foot Baldie.
Raft Race

Sponsored by The Balmoral Group, the popular raft race returns for 2019 and offers seafaring folk the opportunity to compete on the water to showcase their boat building skills.

The object of the event is to build a raft that can passenger up to 3 members of a team across the New Harbour water using paddle power alone and whatever materials you can source to construct your design.

It’s a great activity to take part in but just as entertaining to watch and always thrills smaller members of the family. Teams compete for prizes for staying afloat and completing the course but also for the best costumes.

Teams have until 22nd June to register so there is still time to get your entries in.

Food & Drink

Sponsored by Downies of Whitehills and Gray’s Recycling Services, the food fayre at this year’s festival will once again celebrate the bountiful and best of Scottish produce as well.

From freshly cooked fish, meat and baked goods to the sweet treats of Portsoy ice cream and fudge, you can also sample locally produced whiskies and cider.

The Wally Green Marquee will host dozens of artisan stands and local businesses whilst additional catering will be provided around the town and festival area by specialists like:

  • Hayden’s Woodfired Pizza
  • Bannermans Butcher Hogroast
  • The Haggisman
  • Principle Pig
  • Popsey’s Pancakes

Not to leave those on land high and dry, the festival provides lots of entertainment and activities including craft tents between the harbours and the Salmon Bothy. Skilled craftsmen and women are on hand to showcase traditional crafts such as knitting, weaving and sculpting. As you would expect from a boat festival, you can also watch demonstrations of crafters with an emphasis on maritime handiwork.

Some of the demonstrators have stalls where you can buy some examples of their wares to take home whilst others offer the opportunity to try your hand at their art.


And finally, the Portsoy Scottish Traditional Boat Festival has also booked a variety of musicians and performers to delight the crowds, including:

  • Barbara Dickson & Rab Noakes, supported by The Shetland Fiddlers’ Society, 8pm Friday 21st June, Wally Green Marquee.
  • De Kinkels, a great Dutch band performing popular pop and rock songs, 9pm Saturday 22nd June, Wally Green Marquee.

In addition, there are acts performing on the Bothy Folk Club Stage, Loch Soy and on the streets around the town:

  • Dubby Beats
  • The Fonsecas
  • Urang Matang
  • Elsa McTaggart and Gary Lister
  • Fisher Folk
  • Journey North
  • Dave Gibb
  • Christine Kydd
  • Tripple
  • Fair Trickit
  • Arthur Coates
  • Calum Jones
  • Paulina and the Toon Loons
  • Anne McArthur Dancers
  • Skip 2 The Beat
Portsoy Festival: Tickets

Tickets for the festival are on sale now via the Portsoy website and cost between £5.40 and £40.50 depending on how many days you attend and whether you wish to include gigs. Children under five go free and concessions are available.

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