2019 might just have begun, but already attention in the islands is turning to the rest of the year and all the special events the coming months bring.
From music, nature and science, to art, archaeology and agriculture, there is always something for everyone in Orkney’s annual calendar.
We’ve picked out just some of the activities taking place across the islands this year. Take a look and let us know if you’re inspired to pay Orkney a visit in 2019!
Orkney Nature Festival - 13-19 May
Orkney is a perfect destination for getting up close to nature and wildlife, and this festival has been helping folk do just that for the last six years. Expect wildlife cruises, walks, talks, workshops and much more, all giving you the chance to experience wild Orkney at its best.
Orkney Folk Festival - 23-26 May
This ever-popular four-day celebration of the finest folk music brings the streets of Stromness alive every May. There will be cracking concerts, late-night pub performances and plenty of toe-tapping tunes! Visiting acts this year include Cara Dillon, Lau and The Poozies, with the very best Orcadian musicians taking centre stage too.
St Magnus International Festival - 21-27 June
Held during midsummer in Orkney, this Festival is a real celebration of a magical time of year in the islands. The programme is always packed with exciting events, with everything from choirs and concerts to poetry and pianos included.
Ness of Brodgar excavation - 3 July-21 August
Ok, it’s not strictly a festival, but this archaeological excavation really is one of the ‘must-see’ events of the Orkney summer. This fascinating Neolithic site continues to delight both experts and members of the public, with incredible finds being uncovered every year. Grab a spot on the free guided tours during the dig season to get a behind-the-scenes look.
Orkney Garden Festival - 4-14 July
Come and visit some of Orkney’s most spectacular gardens during this informal festival, which raises funds for a number of very worthy causes. You’ll be able to see 28 gardens over two weekends, as well as taking in talks and workshops, too.
Find out more: on Facebook.
Stromness Shopping Week - 21-29 July
Orkney’s oldest festival, Shopping Week has been a regular fixture on the Orcadian calendar since its launch in 1949. These days it’s a week-long celebration, with live music, parades, performances and lots of fun for all the family.
North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival - 29 July – 9 August
We can safely say that this is an event like no other. The festival is aimed at raising awareness of North Ronaldsay’s famous flock of seaweed-eating sheep, and helping the breed flourish in the years to come. Visitors can help rebuild the ancient sheep dyke that encircles the island and take part in a range of activities, including walks, talks and ceilidhs. It’s a truly unique experience, and one not to be missed.
Find out more: online and on Facebook. Watch our video about 2017's festival to find out more.
Orkney’s Agricultural Shows - 2-10 August
You don’t have to be a farmer to enjoy the sights, sounds (and smells) of Orkney’s show season! With six events spread across three islands, our agricultural shows highlight the very best Orcadian livestock, as well as some of the finest food and drink to be found anywhere. There are always plenty of stalls, rides and activities at the bigger shows – the Dounby Show and the County Show – too.
Find out more: online.
Orkney Rock Festival - 29 August – 1 September
Now in its sixth year, this festival has been going from strength to strength, showcasing local bands and welcoming some excellent visiting acts too. Free gigs are spaced out around Kirkwall’s pubs, with a main all-day ticketed event on offer too. Come along and head-bang with the best of them.
Find out more: on Facebook.
Orkney International Science Festival - 5-11 September
Even as the summer turns to autumn, the Orkney events continue to come thick and fast. September sees the return of the Orkney International Science Festival, which features fascinating family activities as well as displays and talks on all kinds of subjects – from astronomy to archaeology!
Orkney Storytelling Festival - 24-27 October
Pull up a chair and brighten up the dark October nights with a good story! This festival celebrates the spoken word, tall tales and folklore passed down through the generations. Local storytellers are joined by a cosmopolitan cast of visiting performers, and the programme provides the chance to travel around Orkney, experiencing different islands and new stories at the same time.
That's just a taste of some of Orkney's main events of the year. There are always other activities being organised, so remember to check our Events page on a regular basis to keep up-to-date with the latest.
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