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Sumburgh Head to reopen for the season with a blast of the foghorn

Published: 21 March 2023


Spring is nearly here which signals the start of the season at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse and Visitor Centre. Join in the celebrations on Saturday 8 April (not Sat 1 April as originally advertised) as the popular lighthouse destination reopens for 2023. The foghorn will be sounded to mark the start of the season and members of the public will get the chance to win a competition to be the lightkeeper’s assistant on the day.

The ticket office opens at 10.00am, and all ticket holders are invited to an outside guided tour at 11.00am, followed by the customary blast of the foghorn with the help of Retained Lightkeeper Brian Johnson at 12 noon.  A ticket includes access to all the site facilities for the season, including the Marine Life Centre, Radar Hut, Smiddy and the Engine Room to watch Brian starting the engines. Katja Stübiger’s popular ‘Unken Kaffee’ will also be open, serving her coveted coffees, homemade cakes and light lunches.

The much-anticipated blasting of the foghorn typically attracts a good crowd and the lucky competition winner will help Brian to open the final valve to sound the foghorn whilst the three runners up will each be given the chance to help start one of the engines. All the details on how to enter the competition are here. The closing date for entries is Wednesday 29 March.

Jane Outram, Sumburgh Head site manager said: “We are excited to be opening for the season at the start of the school Easter holidays and are looking forward to welcoming everyone back.
There will be a Puffin craft activity for the opening weekend and a family Easter Treasure Hunt from 8 – 10 April.  We’ll also be making a start on updating the Visitor Centre’s ‘sightings’ board, which keeps a daily and seasonal record of seabird and sea mammal sightings. Guillemots have already returned, putting in an appearance on the cliffs on calm days since November. We saw our first Razorbills a few days ago, and it won’t be long before Puffins are back at Sumburgh Head. For the previous two years, Puffins were spotted on the water as early as 1 April!”

Alison Moncrieff, chair of Shetland Amenity Trust, which manages the site said: “I would like to thank everyone who has supported Sumburgh Head Lighthouse and Visitor Centre over the years. The small team works hard to engage the community with the site’s natural and cultural heritage year-round and it was fantastic to learn that 2022 was our busiest year yet - with increased visitor numbers exceeding pre-pandemic levels and attracting large numbers of new tour groups.

It has been really encouraging to see the continued enthusiasm for this world class visitor attraction in Shetland which is entirely funded by tickets sales and charitable donations. I encourage everyone to come along for the opening weekend and buy a ticket, which can be used throughout the season, and will gain them access to all aspects of this outstanding site.”

A programme of events and activities is planned for the Easter holidays and for the rest of the season.

Opening times: The Visitor Centre will be open five days a week, Thursday – Monday, 10.00am – 5.00pm. Katja’s Unken Kaffee opening times will be subject to change throughout the season. Customers are advised to check the cafe website and social media for the latest updates.