The Portaferry Sails & Sounds classic boat and music festival invites classic sailing boats to Strangford Loch from 17 to 19 June 2016

The Northern Ireland Old Gaffers Association has announced that the Portaferry Sails & Sounds classic boat and music festival will run over the weekend of 17 to 19 June 2016.

On ‘The Narrows’, the river-like opening of Strangford Lough, where tides rip through at 6 knots daily, lies the town of Portaferry. A picturesque, traditional County Down market town, famous for its boatbuilding heritage and regular ferry service across to its partner across the Lough, Strangford Town.

Portaferry 1

Traditional Sailing and music are no strangers to this area; for many years, the annual ‘Portaferry Hooker Regatta’ set the bar for classic yachts and traditional boat regattas north of the border, and the town echoed to the sounds of laughter, traditional Irish music and dancing. Something which the organisers believe has been missing for a few years since its demise.


This is all now set to change. Portaferry Sails & Sounds will bring back these essential elements of the Portaferry-style traditional sailing regatta, but for a more modern era. The Northern Ireland Old Gaffers Association has teamed up with Portaferry Sailing Club to re-invent the traditional sailing regatta.


Street theatre, busking competitions, a brand new town-wide, multi-venue music festival, classic car displays, Irish Dancing exhibitions, farmer’s markets, art and craft exhibitions, historical re-enactments will all provide a back drop to the main event.

Traditional sailing yachts and working craft from Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales and England are invited to join the festival and take part in racing and parades of sail. There will also be skiff racing as part of the spectacle on Strangford Lough.


Strangford Lough is central within a convenient catchment area for many ports and marinas around the Irish Sea coast. The organisers believe Portaferry Sails & Sounds will be the biggest and best classic boat regatta this summer, and have promised good weather in County Down.