This year's Orkney Folk Festival will feature some of the finest folk music talents from around the globe.
But, instead of filling the pubs and streets of Stromness with fiddles, accordions and lots of fun, you'll be able to take it all in from the comfort of home.
Rather than face a second year with no Orkney Folk Festival on the calendar due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the organising committee are putting on a virtual festival instead. A four-day digital programme, between 27 and 30 May, will include exclusive performances from an international bill of leading folk artists, alongside local favourites and newly-commissioned concerts.
All artists appearing at the Virtually Orkney Folk Festival were due to appear live in 2020, prior to the event’s cancellation during the UK’s first national lockdown. They were all rebooked to travel to Orkney in 2021 but will now make up the first ever virtual festival programme, before travelling to the islands when - hopefully - the in-person event returns in 2022.
COVID-secure filming for the event is already taking place at venues across Orkney, with shoots also being held in studios and locations in Scotland. Recording such a huge volume of new festival footage is a mammoth task and has been made possible through grant funding awarded from EventScotland’s Event Recovery Fund, alongside the festival’s annual support from Orkney Islands Council and commercial sponsorship.
The centrepiece of this special weekend will be the online world premiere of a new suite of music composed by Orcadian fiddle and mandolin player, Graham Rorie. 'The Orcadians of Hudson Bay' is inspired by the many islanders who travelled to Canada with The Hudson's Bay Company during the 18th and 19th centuries. The album accompanying the project will also be released during the festival weekend, on 28 May.
Other local artists taking part include festival favourites The Chair, quartert Fara, acclaimed duo Saltfishforty and award-winning Gnoss. They'll all be joined by Scottish acts like Blazin' Fiddles, Skerryvore, Talisk and Siobhan Miller. International sets will come from Canadian roots duo Madison Violet, Danish virtuosos the Blum and Haugaard Band and Scandinavian quartert SVER.
And, as always, musicians and singers from across Orkney's rich music community will take to the virtual stage, with newly filmed sets all ready to showcase the breadth of talent in the islands.
The festival’s full programme will be announced in the coming weeks and all-inclusive weekend streaming tickets are now on sale, priced at just £40 per household. Find out more and book your tickets at the Orkney Folk Festival website.