• The Chair at The Stomp in Stromness Academy - image by Lieve Boussauw

Full programme for Orkney Folk Festival unveiled

The full programme for the 2024 Orkney Folk Festival has been announced, with acts from as far afield as Canada, the United States and Australia set to take to the stage across the islands.

They’ll join local artists at 52 events, including concerts, ceilidhs, workshops, family performances and more throughout the festival weekend, between 23 and 26 May.

The programme for the 41st festival has been designed to offer something for everyone by celebrating both Orcadian and visiting artists, as well as contemporary and traditional folk music. More than half of all events will be held in the festival’s hometown of Stromness, but there are concerts scheduled for towns, villages, parishes and islands throughout the archipelago.

This year, audiences can look forward to performances from visiting artists including The East Pointers, who make their first UK festival appearance in recent years. Long-time musical collaborators Michael McGoldrick and John McCusker will be joined for one weekend only by Orcadian Kris Drever, combining the talents of three heavyweights in the UK folk scene.

The festival will also include legendary Irish musicians, Máirtín O’Connor, Cathal Hayden, and Seamie O’Dowd, as well as the rarely seen live Dòchas, featuring Julie Fowlis, Jenna Reid, Kathleen Boyle, Carol-Anne MacKay, Eilidh MacLeod and Martin O’Neill.

The popular Gathering concert returns, with this year’s event a tribute to Orcadian musician, Billy Jolly, following his passing in February. Billy was a well-known and much-loved face at the festival, having performed regularly as part of the Gathering and with the band, Hullion. Directed by Douglas Montgomery, of Saltfishforty and The Chair, and hosted by Billy’s Hullion band mate, Andy Cant, this year’s Gathering celebrates Billy’s musical legacy, with songs and tunes from folks who played with him over the years and knew him best.

Giving families the chance to enjoy folk music together continues to be at the heart of the festival’s offering. Claire’s Music Club workshops return for babies and toddlers, offering interactive sessions of songs, rhymes, actions, instruments, movement and performance. Last year’s popular Family Folkie also returns to Stromness Academy on Saturday afternoon – providing a family-friendly Stomp as well as traditional dancing in the Family Ceilidh.

For adults keen to get on their feet, the festival continues to offer its popular Friday and Saturday night Stomps. The Chair celebrates its 20th anniversary at the Saturday edition this year, having originally formed for the 2004 festival. Those looking for traditional dancing can also take the floor at the Stenness Dance or Sanday Ceilidh.

Those looking to get involved in making music throughout the weekend can book tickets for workshops teaching Orkney fiddle, bodhran, fiddle and cello, and bluegrass music, led by Jennifer Wrigley, David Foley, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, and Ethan Setiawan respectively. The popular Orkney Festival Choir also returns over the course of the weekend, delivered by Stromness’ Aimee Leonard.

Tickets will go on pre-sale to members of Orkney Friends, the festival’s supporter scheme, on Saturday 23 March, ahead of the general release at 7pm GMT on Wednesday 27 March. Find out more via the Orkney Folk Festival website.

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