Portsoy: Scottish Traditional Boat Festival
From an intended one-off event to celebrate the 300th year of Portsoy’s harbour in 1993, the annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival was born. Packed with brilliant moments, the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival brings together boats, music, crafts, food and drink to celebrate the region’s rich cultural heritage. Up to 16,000 people descend on Portsoy over the Festival weekend each June, cheering on crews in competitive sailing on the open seas, dancing and listening to live music, tasting fresh local food, watching skilled traditional craftsmen and women at work, and much more.
But the Boat Festival is only part of the story. It has enabled the local community to:
- Build and equip the Boatshed, where volunteers build and renovate traditional wooden boats, working with local Primary Schools and others to pass on skills. Over 60 boats have now been built in the Boatshed.
- Create the Salmon Bothy museum as a base for local maritime history, family history research and a community space and venue, by restoring a former working Salmon House. The museum attracts more than 3,000 visitors each year, and the community space is used for music, theatre and cultural gatherings, local clubs, weddings and corporate events.
- Develop a 25-bed self-catering accommodation at Sail Loft, which restored a group of buildings dating from the 18th century.
All these projects are co-ordinated by Portsoy Community Enterprise, which also operates the Portsoy Links Caravan Park providing further visitor accommodation and income generation. The organisation as a whole seeks to provide economic benefit from tourism for the town of Portsoy and surrounding area. All of its assets belong to the community.
These achievements do not come without a lot of hard work and collaboration by Portsoy Community Enterprise and others. Support for the projects has come from Historic Environment Scotland (CARS funding), Architectural Heritage Fund, European Fisheries Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Coastal Communities Fund, North East Scotland Preservation Trust, Aberdeenshire Council, local businesses and others.