Edinburgh  Today

Festival of the Sea

The Programme

Britain's first  'Festival of the Sea' was held in Bristol in 1997, and attracted over 200,000 visitors.  This was followed by two Festivals at Portsmouth.

The event, this year, is to be staged at Leith Docks, Edinburgh, on the May Bank Holiday weekend, Friday 23May to Monday 26 May 2003.

The event is expected to attract over 150 vessels, including several "tall ships".  There will be street performers, bands, exhibitions and demonstrations. Each day will close with a 'sound and light show' (fireworks). 

There will be an admission charge of 15 per day.

Further details can be found on the Festival of the Sea web site

The Event

The event went ahead as planned and appeared to be enjoyed by those who attended (including me).  There were at least 200 ships. 

But only about 50,000 visitors attended over the four days; less than half the 125,000 expected.

The low attendance was blamed by many on the 'high' entrance charge of 15 per day or 36 per day for a family ticket.  Many objected to paying these prices,  having been allowed free entry to view the Tall Ships Race at the same venue in 1995.


The organisers defended the ticket prices and blamed the low attendance on:

-   Poor weather on the first day.

-   The War in Iraq

-   Celtic' defeat in the UEFA Cup Final in Seville

-   Good viewing (free of charge) from Ocean Terminal.

Edinburgh City Council commented that poor publicity had contributed to low attendances.

The organizers intend to return to Portsmouth for next year's Festival.


The Programme notes  above are based on publicity material produced by the event's organisers.  The Festival is being staged in association with Forth Ports PLC, Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh & Lothian, City of Edinburgh Council, Visit Scotland and the Royal Navy.

The Event notes above are taken from:
-  Edinburgh Evening News, 27 May 2003, p 8
-  Sunday Herald,  8 June 2003,  p. 6
-  Edinburgh Evening News, 11 June 2003, pp 14,15



Edinburgh Today