Vessels prepare for sail at the start of the Lerwick to Stavanger leg of the Tall Ships race on a windy Monday afternoon in 2011, the last time Shetland played host to the event.

Fish farmers put wind in the sails of Tall Ships celebrations

Trade body and Shetland salmon producers help fund major gathering of spectacular vessels in Lerwick


Shetland salmon farmers have joined forces to support this week’s spectacular Tall Ships’ return to Lerwick.

Salmon and shellfish farming account for 20% of Shetland’s economic output, and trade body Salmon Scotland and salmon producers Cooke Aquaculture Scotland and Scottish Sea Farms are sponsoring the four-day event as Host Port Associates.

Sailing vessels are already arriving in Lerwick harbour as part of a route including Aberdeen, Hartlepool, the Dutch city of Den Helder, and Fredrikstad in Norway.

Thousands of people are expected to join in the festivities, as hundreds of young sailors start to arrive on as many as 37 tall ships.

The event will mark the third time the Tall Ships fleet has been hosted in Lerwick after visits in 1999 and 2011.

The tall ships make a return crossing of the North Sea, departing Lerwick on Saturday bound for Arendal in Norway.

The Tall Ships drew big crowds in 2011 and this year's event is expected to attract thousands of visitors.

Salmon Scotland chief executive and former Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said: “Salmon Scotland, Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, and Scottish Sea Farms are delighted to contribute to a wonderful event in Shetland, which celebrates the islands’ geographic importance and all our connections to the sea.

“Aquaculture is a major employer across Shetland and our families look forward to enjoying the spectacle of the world’s tall ships around the Shetland coastline and in Lerwick.

“Previous Tall Ships events in Shetland have been a fantastic experience for all – we know this year will be even better.”

The Tall Ships Races is Europe’s largest free family festival held every summer in European waters. It offers an exciting racecourse for a fleet of participating vessels crewed by thousands of young people. The event showcases Sail Training International’s values of fostering international friendships and providing life-changing experiences.

 For the 2023 races, Lerwick will serve as a host port, welcoming the fleet from 26 to 29 July. The fleet will arrive following a Cruise in Company leg, offering ships the chance to visit several guest harbours along the route, starting from the host port of Fredrikstad in southeast Norway.

Pennants laager: flags flutter on Tall Ships gathered together in Lerwick in 2011.