Scalloway, a participating Cruise in Company guest harbour in The Tall Ships Races, is welcoming the ships with a programme of events running from Friday 15th to Tuesday 19th July.
Scalloway co-ordinator Davie Sandison said: “We have a very special programme planned for both The Tall Ships Races crews and visitors as the event will coincide with Scalloway’s annual street party, which makes for a double celebration. All the popular gala attractions will be taking place alongside a host of other special events.
“In keeping with tradition, the gala princess will be crowned on Friday 15th July. The princess, along with her attendants, will officially open the event and a special performance by Edinburgh Postal Pipe Band will mark the beginning of the weekend’s festivities.”
The celebrations will then get under way with a jam-packed evening of entertainment. The best of local talent, young and old, will take to the stage in the family night concert in Scalloway Hall; while “Popeye’s” charity fund-raiser concert will be buzzing in the boating club with music from local and visiting artists. People can also party the night away with local bands and the resident DJ at the open-air waterfront stage.
Scalloway’s new museum will open its doors on Friday 15th July with a temporary maritime exhibition, which will run throughout the summer. The Shetland Bus, which operated between Norway and Scalloway during World War II, will be a focal point, together with an extensive display of maritime artefacts highlighting the history of Scalloway’s fishing, aquaculture and whaling industries.
The festival atmosphere continues into the Saturday with a host of activities lined up throughout the day. The crowds will begin to gather early in anticipation of Scalloway’s annual piano-smashing contest. Friendly rivalry between neighbouring Burra and Scalloway will see local “strong men” battle it out to see who will be crowned the champions.
There is everything from the gala pet show and Valerie Watt’s “Trowie Tales o Scallowaa” to giant inflatables and children’s entertainment in Fraser Park. An all-day barbecue and licensed bar will also run throughout the Saturday and Sunday, ensuring everyone is well fed and watered.
The carnival atmosphere sees the gala parade takes to the Main Street on the Saturday evening. Decorated lorries, fancy dressed foot collectors and music will fill the streets as the party reaches its peak.
A musical line-up running throughout the weekend promises something to suit everyone’s taste. Traditional Shetland music featuring Jim and David Halcrow and many others will get toes tapping, along with the Shetland Folk Dance.
The highlight for jazz and blues fans will be Sunday at the waterfront stage, while the resident DJ is sure to keep the crowd on their feet with lively music throughout, and Scalloway Boating Club hosts a full programme too.
Over the weekend there will be a free all day and late evening bus service running continuously between Lerwick and Scalloway, to encourage visitors to leave their cars and prevent congestion in the village.
Throughout the Monday and Tuesday the NAFC Marine Centre will offer guided tours for visiting crews. There will also be tours of other local attractions, both on land and at sea.
The summer fire festival on the Monday will mark the climax of what is sure to be an unforgettable weekend. Jarl’s Squads from the past seven years will march in the parade, led by the Edinburgh Postal Pipe Band, along with all the regular squads.
Ships’ crews and visitors are also invited to take part in the procession and join the squads as they carry flaming torches through the streets behind the galley to the burning site.
Mr Sandison said: “We’re really pleased with our programme. We’ve tried to make sure that it’s a real family occasion and there’s something here for everyone.
“The Scalloway Gala is always a great success and we are very excited about sharing our festival and culture with the visiting Tall Ships and their crews. The fire festival is something that visiting ships have shown a real interest in as it is a feature of our culture that appeals worldwide.
“We are delighted to have been supported in our plans through part funding from the Scotland’s Islands programme as well as the generosity of a large number of local and Shetland businesses, without whom this event could not have happened.
“I would like to say a big thank you to a wide range of individuals and volunteers who have collaborated under Sail Scalloway to make this whole programme possible.”