A hugely popular boat festival which attracts thousands of people to the north-east will return this year – but virtually.
The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, but organisers are determined the celebrations will return in some form in 2021.
The digital festival – which has been backed by EventScotland as part of the Year of Coasts and Water 2020/21 – is being hailed as a “preview” to the full return next year.
Full details will be released shortly, but it will have a focus on seafaring activities, food, and drink, crafts, and music.
It will also feature a collection of bespoke video content showcasing some of the best moments of the festival over the years.
It regularly attracts about 16,000 people to Portsoy.
The virtual event will go live between June 25 and June 27, and has been advertised as a preview for next year’s showcase, with hopes it will take place next June.
Shine a light on Portsoy
Festival chairman David Urquhart revealed that he hoped the festival will shine a light on Portsoy and the wider area to viewers across the world.
He said: “It is with a heavy heart that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with the 2021 Scottish Traditional Boat Festival.
“It had always been our desire to deliver a safe festival, but our number one concern has been to protect the safety of the local community and the many thousands of visitors who descend upon Portsoy over the festival weekend.
“We simply cannot plan with any degree of confidence that we will be able to deliver the event the town deserves, and our visitors have come to expect, and public health has to be our key consideration.
“So, we are working on delivering a festival on a virtual platform to share our flagship event with audiences around the world. While festival lovers won’t be able to come to Portsoy, we will deliver a festival to them through streaming.
“This festival will maintain our profile, providing some fun and entertainment on the weekend the festival was due to take place and will give a taste of things to come in 2022. We look forward to returning to a real live event, safely, next year.”’
The two-day event first began back in 1993 as a one-off spectacle 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.
Paul Bush, director of events at VisitScotland added: “We are delighted to be supporting the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival as part of Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21.
“Scotland offers the perfect stage to celebrate our maritime history and this year’s festival provides a great opportunity to learn more about coastal and cultural traditions in north-east Scotland.”