Scalloway gets set for a weekend of festivities!

Scalloway, a participating Cruise in Company guest harbour in The Tall Ships Races 2011, is set to welcome the Tall Ships with a fantastic programme of events, running from Friday 15 to Tuesday 19 July. It is sure to be a fun-filled weekend for all to enjoy.

Gunilla in Scalloway by Mark BurgessThe Cruise in Company section is a sociable part of The Tall Ships Races, presented by Szczecin, organised by Sail Training International – a charity with a purpose in the development and education of young people, regardless of nationality, culture, religion, gender or social background. The participating 48 Tall Ships in The Cruise in Company will depart from Greenock and sail at their own pace along the west coast of Scotland calling in at participating guest harbours en-route to Shetland.

Scalloway’s Cruise in Company Coordinator, 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 15 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 underway 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 at the Scalloway Hall; while “Popeye’s” Charity Fundraiser Concert will be buzzing in the Boating Club with music from local and visiting artists. You can also party the night away with local bands and the resident DJ at the open-air Waterfront Stage.

Scalloway’s newly built museum will open its doors on Friday 15 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 real 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 Saturday 16 July 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 Watts 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 Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July ensuring everyone is well fed and watered.

Join in with the carnival atmosphere when the Gala Parade takes to the Main Street on Saturday evening. Decorated lorries, fancy dressed foot collectors and music will fill the streets as the party reaches its peak.

There’s a great musical line up running throughout the weekend which 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 Water Front 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 Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 July NAFC Marine Centre will offer guided tours for visiting crews and tours to local attractions, both on land and at sea.

The spectacular Summer Fire Festival, to be held on Monday 18 July, will mark the spectacular climax of what’s sure to be an unforgettable weekend. Jarl 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.

Davie Sandison, concluded: “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."