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From puffins to pottery, and skylarks to cycling, the Orkney Nature Festival provides a whole host of ways to enjoy the island’s spectacular wildlife.

With majestic hen harriers soaring through the sky, charismatic puffins on dramatic sea cliffs, and dolphins and whales patrolling the seas, Orkney is home to a magnificent range of wildlife. The Orkney Nature Festival is an annual celebration that gives both visitors and locals the opportunity to enjoy some of nature’s greatest spectacles.

Incorporating events in many different islands, the festival brings together local businesses, charities and individuals, making this a real group effort. The programme is developed by RSPB Scotland, who themselves manage 13 nature reserves across Orkney.

With active pursuits like walking, cycling and kayaking, along with more sedate activities such as presentations from wildlife experts, the festival has something for everyone. It is also a fantastic opportunity to get involved with Orkney’s thriving artistic scene; previous festivals have included wildlife photography workshops, pottery classes and more.

And no summary of the festival would be complete without mentioning the Nature Festival Cruise. The traditional grand finale, it brings hundreds of wildlife enthusiasts together on NorthLink Ferries’ MV Hamnavoe, for a leisurely sail around some of Orkney’s most spectacular scenery. In the past, trips have included a tour around Hoy and a journey up the West Mainland coast.

Usually held during May, the Orkney Nature Festival is still quite young amidst some of the islands’ older traditions, however it is growing larger every year. Find the festival on Facebook or keep up to date via the official website for dates and programme information.