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Vikings, performers, boat races and sunshine – the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival 2019

Thousands of people flocked to Portsoy during the weekend for the coastal community’s famous boat festival.

Despite the occasional downpour, the sunshine raised spirits at the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival and the streets were packed with buskers, organisers and visitors enjoying the stalls, food and drink and eclectic variety of performances.

Across the weekend, the event featured a rich array of musical and dancing talent, boat races, arts and crafts and an invasion of Vikings – more commonly associated with Shetland – which ended with a boat burning on the shore.

In a first for the festival, 50 warriors from the Up Helly Aa Jarl Squad led a torch-lit parade down the town streets on Saturday evening, thrilling the crowds while they made their way to the beach.

The parade through the streets of Portsoy.

Once they had reached the sand, they threw their torches into the vessel and watched as the longboat burned.

The spectacle was enjoyed by thousands of people who stuck around after the day’s events.

A packed programme saw people walking the shore of Portsoy en masse, visiting food and drink stalls, finding out about boats, trying their hand at coracling, speaking to politicians and learning about their history.

Performer Christine Kydd held a workshop, Salty and Fishy Songs, where she sang fishing and folk ditties explaining what life would have been like on vessels for traditional fishermen.

She said: “I’ve been coming to the festival for 12 years now in various ways and it’s always a great time, so I ask to come and sing as I love being here.

“I love meeting people and singing on the stage as there’s such a connection between the area and the folklore.”


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A team of coastguards won the raft race, beating off three other teams.

RNLI crews from Buckie and Macduff also joined the festivities as the prelude to putting on a mini display with the Macduff boat jumping over the wake of the Buckie vessel.

The Wick Society were also showing off their historic fishing vessel Isabella Fortuna which recently won the historic Flagship of the Year award.

Volunteer Alan Miller said: “We love coming here every year to raise funds as we enjoy getting to engage with all of the groups and the community.

“The award we won partly for our dedication to its upkeep since 1890 but partly due to getting the community involved int he project too.”

Organisers hope boat festival is ‘memorable’ tribute to Roger Goodyear

Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid took part in the festival and said: “For year now, this has been a great day out for all, there is something for everyone and it is getting bigger and bigger.

“It’s a great advertisement for the north-east as often this area gets forgotten about.

“We have one of the most beautiful coastlines on the planet and events such as this highlight that.”

Local councillor Glen Reynolds said: “I’m very proud and privileged to represent the area in which this internationally renowned festival takes place.

“I have no doubt that Roger Goodyear would be looking down on the glorious weekend, happy to see a great turnout along with established and first time stall holders.”

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