Monday 15 April 2024
 6.6°C   S Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Community / Tall ships understood to return to Lerwick in 2023

The return of the Tall Sips' races has been described as 'fantastic news' for the isles. The photo by Billy Fox shows the Dutch tall ship Morgenster leaving Lerwick at the end of the 2011 event.

LERWICK is set to host the Tall Ships’ Race in 2023 after a bid to bring the massive community event back to Shetland was successful.

The decision by Sail Training International, the organiser of the annual tall ship races, hasn’t been made public yet but in a confidential e-mail to councillors in Shetland – seen by Shetland News – chief executive Maggie Sandison confirmed that the local bid has been successful.

There is however the possibility that the event may have to be postponed by a year or two depending on the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the ever-changing conditions around international travel arrangements.

A report to confirm that Shetland has been successful is due to go before councillors in April.

In November 2019 the SIC committed almost £1.4 million towards hosting the 2023 event which in 2011, the last time the tall ships came to Shetland, generated £2.5 million for the local economy.

The council hopes to recoup some of its financial commitment by applying for funding from the newly established Crown Estate fund and the Shetland Community Benefit Fund, which distributes disturbance payments from SSE Renewables, the company that owns the Viking Energy wind farm project.

Sandison’s e-mail to councillors said: “I am pleased to let you know that the bid has been successful- Sail Training International, has confirmed to us that they have selected the five Host Ports of The Tall Ships Races 2023 and Lerwick is a host port along with Den Helder, Hartlepool, Fredrikstad, and Liverpool.

“It is clearly positive news that we’ve secured the event which will be a very welcome boost to our community after lockdowns, restrictions and so many community events being cancelled.

“It will also be an opportunity to boost our tourism economy and promote Shetland as a destination to visit after the disruption and uncertainty of 2020/21.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News


VisitScotland’s islands manager Steve Mathieson said that “if it goes ahead” then it would be “fantastic news” for Shetland and its tourism industry.

“The 2011 event was very successful in terms of attracting visitors, promoting Shetland as a destination, and from the figures that came out at the time it showed that it was very profitable for the local economy,” Mathieson said.

“We have started our planning towards recovery [from the Covid pandemic] now and we know it is going to be a long rebuilding process, and you have to be optimistic that by 2023 things will be normalising.

“The 2011 event was a great example of all the community and agencies working together, and I am sure it will be the same for 2023.”

The Tall Ship Races 2020 were postponed due to the Covid pandemic. In an attempt to catch up on the timetable the intention is to run two tall ship events in 2021. However there is a possibility that this may not be possible due to the pandemic.

Sandison said in her e-mail that the local company set up to deliver the local event would have contingency plans in place to should the 2023 date slip.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.