Festivals by the sea to collaborate

Written by Howie Firth

Two Scottish festivals are to work together to bring more visitors to Scotland.

The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy will collaborate with Orkney International Science Festival to give each an added boost in promotion in the UK and overseas, and particularly Scandinavia.

The Portsoy festival, now in its 21st year, gathers together boats and people from many places – there are skiffs and yachts, longboats and currachs, Fifies and Zulus from the days of the herring fishing.

The Festival company is very active in the regeneration of the village’s 300-year-old harbour. It restored the historic Salmon Bothy and operates it as a museum and for boat building and restoration courses, and is currently building a full size wooden coble. It is also about to start restoring a building by the harbour which will become a permanent workshop for traditional boat building and restoration.

The Portsoy Festival team are also developing plans to form a North Sea network of organisations using maritime heritage for economic and community development. The new North Sea Ring, part of a number of developments for the Scottish Year of Homecoming, will be launched at this year’s Boat Festival, 27-29 June.

Orkney International Science Festival is also its third decade, with a similar strong interest in economic development and tourism. Its programme each year includes the latest reports on Orkney’s leading role in wave and tidal power, and topics for individual talks have ranged from the mathematics of waves to the science of sail.

As well as developing together links with the Nordic countries, the two festivals will share speakers. Portsoy Community Coble Build Project Director Lorna Summers will take part in this year’s Orkney Festival with a talk on how this unique undertaking has been developed and is progressing, and Orkney Science Festival director Howie Firth will be the guest speaker at this year’s Portsoy Festival fundraising dinner.

The dinner, whose menu will have an Orkney theme, takes place in the Station Hotel, Portsoy, on Friday 14 March, with the menu to include a traditional steak pie made with Orkney beef and Orkney buffalo steak and an Orkney cheese risotto made with traditional farmhouse cheese, plus Birsay beremeal bannocks and Westray fatty cutties.

Howie Firth will recount some Orkney tales of the sea, from a Spanish Armada shipwreck to a long-distance lifeboat journey. Tickets for the dinner, priced £25, are available from

About the author

Howie Firth

Dr Howie Firth is a writer and physicist from Orkney, with a deep interest in history and philosophy. He is director of Orkney International Science Festival.