Portsoy Boat Festival to welcome back limited crowds as 2021 event date confirmed

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A major north-east event will return next year after Covid-19 put paid to the annual maritime extravaganza.

The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy was cancelled this summer due to the pandemic.

But organisers have said it will come back in 2021 with a reduced capacity and social distancing measures in place.

© PRESS AND JOURNAL
The Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival was last held in 2019.  Picture by Jim Irvine.

David Urquhart, chairman of Portsoy Community Enterprise, said: “As one of Scotland’s best-loved coastal events, we want to maintain the boat festival’s momentum and safeguard its future by going ahead in 2021.

“This isn’t a case of being blasé and staging the festival regardless of what’s happening with Covid-19. Health and safety considerations will be at the forefront of our minds in the organising and delivery of the 2021 festival.

“We will follow official guidance and plan accordingly, with the health and safety of our participants and audiences central to all our proposals.

“2021 has been designated VisitScotland’s year of coasts and waters, and we look forward to staging a festival that is in keeping with the times and which safely celebrates our coastal connections and maritime past.

“Portsoy Community Enterprise’s vision is to further develop Portsoy as a destination and, as one of the region’s leading summer events, the festival is pivotal in supporting these ambitions. Planning for a festival that is suited for the times will see us move forward with a positive outlook.

“We realise there is a risk that the festival may still be cancelled but if we don’t try, it definitely won’t go ahead. We think that is a risk that is worth taking.”

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© PRESS AND JOURNAL
Crowds at last year’s Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival. Picture by Jim Irvine

The 2021 festival will take place on June 26 and 27 in a format tailored to suit restrictions and distancing measures that are in place at the time.

Organisers aim to be able to provide elements of what makes the festival such a draw, including local music, crafts, food and drink, children’s entertainment, and seafaring activities.

The two-day festival, held annually in June, normally attracts 16,000 people to the Banffshire coastal town. It began back in 1993, initially as a one-off event to mark the 300th anniversary of the historic Portsoy harbour.

Since then, it has become a mainstay of the Scottish events calendar, attracting an international audience.

An online committee meeting has been planned for Tuesday, January 12 for anyone who would like to be involved in the 2021 festival. To register interest please email contact@stbfportsoy.org

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