The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival

Packed with brilliant moments, the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival celebrates its silver anniversary in 2018 – 25 years of engaging the local region to bring more than 16,000 people together to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the local boats and skiffs, music, crafts, food and drink over the last weekend in June (30 June – 1 July 2018).

Kids under 16 years old are free of charge for every event at the Salmon Bothy.

Taking place across two harbours in the beautiful setting of Portsoy on the Moray Firth Coast, there is no better place to celebrate the maritime and cultural heritage of the north east than at the annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival.

The boats

The Isabela Fortuna boat is the main attraction at the festival.

Boats of all sizes book to visit Portsoy’s harbours, including Festival favourite Isabella Fortuna that was built originally in 1890 and has been on a continuous programe of renewal and restoration at sea and on the water since 1997; the Comet BF 430 who has had a mixed history until she was bought by Billy Milne who has returned her to her original looks and is now moored in Macduff, plus many other beautiful and historic vessels. You are invited to jump on board to meet the crew and hear their seafaring stories.

Skiff crews join in competitive challenges will see teams vying for the coveted winner’s St Ayles trophy. Last year teams were joined by yoles from Orkney and Shetland for the first time, much to the delight of the crowds.

Even if the weather is fair, crowds are not deterred from descending on Portsoy to enjoy the event.

Food and beverages

The festival offers freshly caught and cooked fish as well as meats and other fine foods and drinks sourced locally, including a champagne daiquiri sorbet from the local ice-cream makers in Portsoy for you to taste, try and take home. Complemented by the many food stalls around the harbour areas, there is sure to be something to tempt all tastes. There is also a cookery demonstration programme that showcases some of the best regional chefs’ delicious recipes using locally sourced produce.

Song, story and dance

Many musicians perform on the main stage .

The atmosphere that surrounds the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival is created from the many activities, music from the pipes and whistles of Scottish folk songs as well as other genres, offered by famous as well as up-and-coming artists.

Musicians, singers and storytellers who will take to the many stages and streets throughout the Festival to entertain with their tales and talents. There also music workshops so that you have the possibility to work with great musicians on flute, pipes or other instruments.

On Saturday night, the band De Kinkels will be back at the Festival to rock the stage with a host of many other great performers for you to dance the night away with.


You can learn to make driftwood art at the festival.

The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival also celebrates the skills of a wide range of traditional craftsmen and women with carving and weaving demonstrations, knitted goods and magnificent sculptures, many of which will celebrate the authentic charm and will be for sale for you to take home as a reminder of your visit. There really will be something for everyone. Some of the skills being shown over the weekend include the master woodturner at work, plus a large selection of handcrafted items, including jewellery, driftwood art, knitting and more.

Maritime crafts can be witnessed at the Old Harbour where visitors can see first-hand the traditional skills involved in making oars, cleats and sails.


There are events for children too. The well-known Walking Theatre Company will be join two interactive parades on Saturday, taking children through the Festival as pirates. The Scottish Animal Rescue team will bring some strange and delightful creatures for children to meet and if brave enough, to handle then. There will also be a waterslide and other activities including a climbing wall.

End with a 2 or 10k run

The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival includes the annual 2k ‘Wee Sporran’ fun run and 10k ‘Follow the Herring’ road run will take place on Sunday 1 July 2018 in Portsoy, starting at the Playing Fields and finishing by the Old Harbour. Entrants each receive a medal, goody bag and free entry to the Festival. Other prizes will also be presented.

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