A festival of nature in Orkney

Come and experience Orkney's beautiful nature and wildlife this spring...

May brings festival fever for Orkney, and it’s a condition that lasts all summer long in the islands.

We have arts, music and even sheep shearing festivals scheduled this season, but it all gets underway later this month with the chance to experience everything Orkney’s wildlife and nature attractions have to offer.

The programme for Orkney’s fourth annual Nature Festival has been published and features some of the most diverse events available anywhere. Where else can you go on a snorkelling safari, kayak on crystal clear waters, learn about bird ringing and take part in all the usual walks, talks and tours you’d expect?

It takes place between the 16th and 22nd of May and you can view the full programme at orkneynaturefestival.org. We've picked some of our highlights.

Snorkelling Safari

Plunge into the pristine waters of Scapa Flow for a special Nature Festival experience

Come and explore the magical world beneath the waves in Orkney. With experts from Scapa Scuba on hand you can squeeze into your dry suit and explore kelp forests, sea creatures and rusting WWII wrecks at Orkney’s iconic Churchill Barriers. You’ll be able to see shellfish, starfish, sea urchins and lots more – a beautiful, unique experience.

Sketching Berriedale

Berries at Berriedale - showcase your sketching talents at this Orkney Nature Festival event

Did you know that the Orkney island of Hoy hosts the UK’s most northerly native woodland? Berriedale is a remnant of an ancient forest that once covered Orkney. It’s now a very special place, full of life and colour. Ferns, wild roses, honeysuckle and blueberries sit alongside robins, willow warblers, reed buntings and chaffinches. Take advantage of your surroundings to practice your sketching technique under the watchful eye of local artist Tim Wooton and learn about your subjects from the local RSPB warden. Work with whatever materials you choose and delve deeper into the natural history of the area.

Bird ringing demo

Orkney's beautiful birdlife will be the focus of this unique event

Orkney is famed for its birdlife. From our seabird cities to the rarer visitors stopping off on their migrations, the islands are a birdwatchers paradise. Bird ringing is a vital part of understanding the behaviour of our feathered friends and helping with conservation. Learn the tricks of the trade in one of Orkney’s hidden gems, Olav’s Wood in South Ronaldsay, with local experts.

The 2016 Nature Festival cruise

Circumnavigate the island of Hoy with NorthLink Ferries during the 2016 Orkney Nature Festival

This is the showpiece event of the Orkney Nature Festival. Join NorthLink Ferries onboard the Hamnavoe for a very special cruise around the island of Hoy. See the spectacular scenery, from cliffs and craggy coastline to sandy beaches and sea stacks. Expect guillemots, razorbills, puffins and, fingers crossed, an orca sighting or two! The cruise features wildlife commentary, expert guides, live music and local food. Come and experience everything Orkney has to offer!

Visit the 2016 Orkney Nature Festival website for full details on all the events mentioned above and for booking information.

Find out more about Orkney with the official Visit Orkney website.

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