Stunning lunar event coincides with Scottish Traditional Boat Festival

The earth will move for thousands of visitors heading to the nation’s biggest celebration of maritime culture next weekend, but experts are urging festival-goers to keep calm and carry on. The moon will reach its closest point to the earth when the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival takes place in Portsoy on the Aberdeenshire coast on June 22 and 23, creating a bulge in the earth during one of the highest tides of the year.

Event organisers insist that visitors need not panic about the natural wonder, and they believe it will actually add to the incredible atmosphere of the Festival. The opening night concert takes place on the Summer Solstice on June 21, and over the next two evenings the coastal village will be bathed by the light of a particularly huge full moon.

Festival chairman Roger Goodyear says, “When we heard that the earth would bulge out almost beneath our feet we were initially a little bit concerned, especially because the tide is going to be so unusually high that weekend.

“But we can give a categorical assurance that if indeed the earth does move, no one will be any the wiser about it. Having received expert advice, we’re actually really excited about this stunning lunar episode and the amazing effect that it will create. And how amazingly fitting given that this is the Year of Natural Scotland.

“The Festival has the best attractions that anyone with an interest in sailing and maritime heritage could ask for, and now it appears that we also have everything for star-gazers too. We’ll be delighted to welcome them all to our 20th anniversary Festival and the jam-packed programme of events that we have lined up.”

Professor Martin Hendry, an astrophysics expert at the University of Glasgow, assures the public that they have nothing to fear from being near a high tide when the pull of the moon will cause the earth to bulge.

He says, “The bulge of the earth comes about because on the ‘moonside’ of the earth, the gravitational pull of the moon on the top of the ocean is a little bit stronger than the pull on the ocean floor. The top of the ocean is slightly closer to the moon than the ocean floor and this causes the ocean to bulge outwards towards the moon.

“As well as a bulge on this side of the earth, the same bulge will happen on the exact opposite side of the world; this is because, on that side, the gravitational pull on the ocean floor is a bit stronger than on the top of the ocean. There is a net outward acceleration of the water on the far side of the Earth that causes the outward bulge on that side.”

“There’s no need to worry if you are going to the Festival as you won’t actually feel the earth move. Since the Festival is taking place so close to Midsummer, when the sun spends a short few hours below the horizon around midnight, the full moon will illuminate the skies with some beautiful moonlight. Of course, this will depend on having clear skies so everyone will be keeping their fingers crossed.”

The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival has a packed programme of events both on and off the water. Heritage vessels will drop anchor in the historic harbor, while the quayside will be packed with displays and demonstrations on associated crafts and skills. Visitors can learn how to sail a coracle, hop aboard restored fishing vessels, and see the crews of the St Ayles Skiffs rowing regatta race on the open seas.

A food fayre and cookery demonstrations will be taking place throughout the weekend, along with craft marquees with exhibitors gathered from all over Scotland. The very best in traditional musicians will be entertaining on the main stage by the harbour, as well as other locations across the Festival site.

The now annual Follow the Herring 10k run will be one of the main attractions on the Sunday, and an activity zone featuring everything from an exciting climbing wall to body zorbing will be set up around Loch Soy.

This year the Festival is a key event in the Year of Natural Scotland – a partnership between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, EventScotland and Scottish Natural Heritage - which aims to showcase the country’s unique natural environment.

The official opening of the 2013 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival will be undertaken by Clare Russell, Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire at the main stage on Saturday (June 22) at 11am.

For more information about the Festival and to buy tickets visit Updates about this year’s festival are also available on Facebook at and Twitter – search for @STBFestival.

An adult day ticket to the festival costs £8, children aged five to 18 and concessions are £5. Adult weekend tickets are priced at £12 and children and concessions at £8. There are also family tickets available which allow entry for two adults and three children for £25 for a day ticket and £35 for a weekend.  Children under five go free and there is no charge for parking.

Sign up to receive e-newsletters
If you would like to know how we manage your personal data,
please click on the EventScotland privacy policy.