Other Festivals Other Festivals

Other Festivals in Orkney

From jazz and blues, to wine and storytelling, Orkney has a packed programme of smaller festivals to suit everyone.

Some of the exhibits at the Vintage Rally

Some of the exhibits at the Vintage Rally

The Stromness Shopping Week Queen and her attendants

The Stromness Shopping Week Queen and her attendants

Traditional dancing underway at the Orkney Ceilidh Weekend

Traditional dancing underway at the Orkney Ceilidh Weekend

The sun shining on Stromness Shopping Week

The sun shining on Stromness Shopping Week

The Festival of the Horse in St Margaret's Hope

The Festival of the Horse in St Margaret's Hope

Sampling the atmosphere at the Orkney Wine Festival

Sampling the atmosphere at the Orkney Wine Festival

One of the first mini festivals of the year is Papay Gyro Nights Art Festival, a fairly recent revival of an old Papay tradition, which is held at the time of the first full moon in February. Next it's the Orkney Jazz Festival, staged during the last weekend of April at the Stromness Hotel and featuring mainly traditional jazz from visiting performers.

May brings the Orkney Nature Festival, which was launched in 2013. It offers the chance to take advantage of Orkney's wildlife, with boat cruises, walks, talks - and even the chance to go kayaking and rockpooling with experts.

The first week of June sees Orkney play host to Scotland’s only wine festival, held at various restaurants around the county. Tastings, lunches, dinners and talks are tutored by visiting winemakers and merchants, making the Orkney Wine Festival a real highlight of the year for both wine lovers and foodies.

Stromness Shopping Week has been held during the third week of July for more than 60 years. This community wide spectacle, originally introduced to entice people into local shops, now involves a host of family and sporting events, along with a huge range of activities and shows from visiting performers and bands. It all ends with an eagerly anticipated fancy dress parade, a fireworks display over the town's harbour and a dance in the street.

Further afield you can have a truly entertaining time at the Papa Westray Fun Weekend with an adult and children’s sports day, carty racing down the brae and two ceilidhs. The Westray Sailing Regatta is another firm favourite for visitors to the isles.

August is a time of festival fever in Orkney. In addition to the agricultural shows, you can watch Kirkwall Sailing Regatta, tour the Vintage Rally Show and watch the Riding of the Marches in Kirkwall. For a spectacle you will see nowhere else don’t miss the South Ronaldsay Boys’ Ploughing Match & Festival of the Horse. Children dress in intricate horse costumes at St Margaret’s Hope and boys compete with mini ploughs on the Sands o’Wright beach.

In September the Orkney Blues Festival showcases blues in its broadest interpretation with visiting bands and local talent performing in several venues around Stromness for a non-stop blues experience.

The Orcadian Story Trust runs the Orkney Storytelling Festival at the end of October, which features international storytellers as well as local experts in this ancient art form. Many featured stories have been passed down through generations and cover Orkney's past right back to its very creation, as told in the story of Assipattle.