Thursday 30 May 2024
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Paid for contentTall Ships set to make 2023 a summer for all the family to remember

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is nearly upon us – the Tall Ships Races’ arrival in Lerwick is just six weeks away! And there is an incredible variety of entertainment and events planned for all ages to ensure summer 2023 is one to remember.

Twelve years on from its last visit, the impressive Tall Ships fleet is due to reach Lerwick on Wednesday 26 July at the conclusion of the Cruise in Company leg of the event.

The arrival of dozens of spectacular ships in the harbour, with hundreds of crew on board, promises to be a spectacular sight – made possible thanks to the host port sponsors: SSE Renewables, EventScotland, Lerwick Port Authority and Shetland Islands Council.

Ships range from Class A barques like the Southampton-based Tenacious, the largest wooden ship of her kind in the world, to the 13-metre long white-hulled Bm Sloop Belfer – she’ll have a maximum of seven trainees and three crew.

Fairground attractions, magic tricks and Captain Jack Sparrow…

Organisers Shetland Tall Ships Ltd. have put together an extensive programme of entertainment to ensure the event lives up to its reputation as a family-friendly party for the whole community to enjoy.

Alongside four days and nights of live music across two stages at Holmsgarth and Victoria Pier, there is an action-packed family programme including fairground attractions, circus performers, educational activities, facepainting and children’s stories.

Aberdeen-based amusement park Codona’s will bring along a range of rides for all ages, with the attractions sited at the car park for the Stewart Building adjacent to Laurenson Quay.

The Flying Seagull Project will offer a stage show every day featuring music, stilt-walking and magic tricks, as well as walkabout performances.

Captain Jack Sparrow Lookalike UK.

The project’s team, who are on a mission to make children the world over laugh, deliver their circus act in far-flung places throughout the globe.

Children and adults alike will have the opportunity to remember the day they almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow.

The show-stealing character from Pirates of the Caribbean will be staging walkabout performances, joined by Mr Gibbs, in the town centre and at Holmsgarth. Keep an eye out for Captain Jack and you might get the perfect selfie opportunity!

Traditional rope-making workshops and demonstrations for young and old will be on offer from Mark Shiner of the Orkney Navigation School at a specially-created beachfront area, dubbed the Costa Del Fun, at Alexandra Quay.

There’ll be loads for your bairns to enjoy at the Costa Del Fun, including face painting, a treasure hunt, and all the Codona’s rides.

Educational activities include focus on renewables and space industry

Inspired by Shetland’s emerging space and future energy industries, there will be a tech tent at Holmsgarth Quayside throughout the four days.

Among the attractions is the fantastic Glasgow Science Centre, which is bringing some mind-blowing gadgets, and the team from SaxaVord Spaceport will be on hand to speak about developments underway in Unst.

Holmsgarth event site sponsors SSE Renewables will also be on hand to demonstrate wind power technology, while maritime-based activities will be laid on by UHI Shetland staff to outline some of the incredible opportunities to begin a career at sea.

For those wanting to keep active there is a Roller Disco at Mareel (non-skaters are welcome), and there are also morning sessions at Holmsgarth with Rebel Fitness to get each day started on an energetic note!

Other entertainment will include street performances, Shetland Vikings, mini golf and classic motor displays.

Enjoy four days of live local bands – for free!

And if you missed out on tickets for the big ticketed concerts, fear not: there will be oodles of free live music at the Holmsgarth arena every afternoon, as well as a bustling programme of brilliant local acts at Victoria Pier day and night.

The opening night at Holmsgarth, with the bill topped by the inimitable Peatbog Faeries and Shetland’s own party-rock favourites The Revellers, takes place following the opening ceremony and is also free to attend.

Transport into Lerwick town centre will be available on shuttle buses running from two park-and-ride sites, at Sound School and the Anderson High School.

Anyone staying outside Lerwick can also benefit from late-night buses and ferries being laid on at the end of the evening concerts each night. You can find full details about the transport options here.

There’s lots going on outwith Lerwick in the days leading up to the main event too. Guest ports for 2023 include Cullivoe and Baltasound, and you can find out about what’s happening in the North Isles at the two event Facebook pages – Sail Yell 2023 and Unstfest.

  • You can find full details of all the entertainment taking place between 26-29 July here. You can also access practical information about the Tall Ships’ visit to Lerwick here.


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