Play Your Part in Portsoy’s Annual Boat Festival

Planning has commenced for the 2024 ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, which takes place on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 June.

The committee which organises the annual event, has issued a call for more local people to come forward to get involved in the festival, by attending the next open meeting on Wednesday 25 October 2023 at 7pm, at the Portsoy Salmon Bothy.

David Urquhart, chairman of the festival said: “As a key event on the Portsoy community calendar, planning has already begun for next year’s festival, and we held our first open meeting at the end of September. We were delighted to welcome some new people to the table to share their thoughts, ideas and views which was immensely valuable for the committee and the board.  

“Since the festival began 30 years ago, it has grown in size and stature, combining a flotilla of heritage boats which congregate in Portsoy alongside Scottish food and drink, music and dance, traditional crafts. We appreciate the importance of the event to the local area and have taken the time to listen to the feedback gathered from 2023 and as part of this, would encourage people to get involved, have their say and work with us to improve and enhance the event for future years.  

“Over 13,000 visitors from across the north east, Scotland and the UK attended the event, we even had people from New Zealand and the USA journey to Portsoy for the festival. The addition of the kids’ zone was a real highlight for our families as was the return of Reaper, with over 1,000 visitors climbing aboard to discover what life at sea was like for fishermen over 100 years ago, during the weekend. The addition of Clan Gordon, one of the last remaining Loch Fyne Skiffs and St Vincent, a 113 year old, restored Zulu, which was part of the fleet which helped salvage the SS Politician in Whisky Galore, has opened up new networks to bring these rare, historic vessels to Portsoy. They, like Reaper, have a fascinating story to tell whilst showcasing the skills and craftsmanship of boat building for the younger generation.  It is our intention to build on these networks to enhance and extend the maritime programme, alongside the sailing and sea-borne activities, which have been somewhat restricted due to the poor weather the last two years.  

“It was a real honour and a privilege to welcome Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne to Portsoy. HRH spent over three hours touring the festival site and speaking to the volunteers, exhibitors and local businesses involved in the festival and underlined the important role it plays in keeping maritime traditions and skills alive, during her opening speech. It was a significant moment for a small town like Portsoy to welcome HRH and visitors particularly enjoyed seeing her at the event.  

“Our small team of 25 volunteers have already started working on some new features and improvements and if you have an interest in the event, please come to the next meeting and get involved. We are looking for people who could support on a wide range of activities from fundraising and ticketing to administration, facilities, maritime and crafts.” 

Those interested in playing a part in the festival preparations are invited to attend the next open meeting on Wednesday 25th October at the Portsoy Salmon Bothy at 7pm, people can also join online on Microsoft Teams by emailing Lauren McKay on

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