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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 03/08/2023

The organisers of last week’s Tall Ships Races visit to Lerwick have paid tribute to the whole Shetland community for the part they played in making the event an exceptional success.       

More than 10,000 people attended the event on each of its four days, with a carnival atmosphere in the town throughout as folk enjoyed themselves against the spectacular backdrop of 37 visiting tall ships.   

Vessels from as far afield as Indonesia and Uruguay joined ships from the UK and Scandinavia in Lerwick Harbour, while Sail Training Shetland provided funding for 100 sail trainees to participate in the races.    

Thousands of revellers enjoyed live music from over 60 acts including headliners Tide Lines and Peat & Diesel, while local bands including First Foot Soldiers also enjoyed a rapturous response from the 5,000-strong audience at Holmsgarth. The arena was packed out on all four nights. 

Coming on the back of tough times, the importance of bringing together so many people from different backgrounds and different nationalities cannot be underestimated.

Without the amazing backing of all the businesses which sponsored Tall Ships Lerwick, giving their time, money and expertise, the event could not have happened.

So many people went above and beyond the call of duty, and we want to pay a very special thanks to the army of volunteers, staff and partners who came together to ensure everything ran smoothly.

Malcolm Bell, Chairman Shetland Tall Ships Ltd board

Project manager Emma Miller said the event had been the culmination of months of hard work by lots of different people, many of whom worked well into the small hours in the days and nights leading up to last Wednesday's opening ceremony.

The voluntary team of liaison officers had done a sterling job ensuring the ships and their crews were taken care of – they were incredible and they really did work as a team.

We knew the community would get behind the event, but the reception, participation and sense of celebration exceeded expectations.

Emma Miller, Project manager

Miller said the event had provided considerable social and economic benefits, as well as giving islanders a real sense of pride.   

Whether it’s the immediate economic impact of the packed pubs and bustling shops in Lerwick, or the widespread media exposure at home, nationally and overseas, Shetland’s hosting of such a prestigious international event will serve the islands well.

Tall Ships Lerwick 2023 is something we, as a community, can be proud of, and we hope the legacy is long-lasting.

Emma Miller, Project manager

Miller added that Shetland Tall Ships Ltd. will lay on a thank-you party in the autumn for everyone who volunteered. 

I would like to congratulate all those involved in making this four-day spectacular such an incredible success and celebration.

Tall Ships Lerwick is a shining example of how events not only unite local and international communities but also create positive social, cultural and economic impacts.

Having events on this scale in our calendar further elevates our profile as the perfect stage for events and our position as a world-leading events destination.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland

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