• Pub session at the Orkney Folk Festival


It’s often said that music reflects the soul of a community, and this is especially true of Orkney.

Young folk here are encouraged to play instruments from an early age, as generations have done before them. Music is in the blood in Orkney and, in schools across the islands, emerging young talent is helping to preserve this reputation.

Orkney has a rich and diverse musical heritage and, in particular, a long tradition of fiddle and accordion music. Today, groups including the Orkney Traditional Music Project and the Orkney Strathspey & Reel Society keep the music alive and ensure that the unique sound of the islands is introduced to new audiences.

The Orkney Folk Festival has grown to become one of the most popular events of its kind in the country and acts as inspiration for many young musicians in Orkney. The islands have also forged strong cultural links with musicians from around the world, many of whom perform at the Folk Festival and the famous St Magnus International Festival every year.

While we have lots of home-grown musicians performing regularly across the islands, we also enjoy a full calendar of visiting acts. Venues for these include the Pickaquoy Centre, the Sound Archive and the Orkney Theatre. Pubs throughout Orkney host gigs and concerts too, where often anything goes musically and all tastes are catered for.

There are annual blues and rock festivals which each attract large and loyal audiences. And in community halls throughout Orkney there's always something going on. Orcadians take little persuasion to strike up a tune. Every event needs live music - a wedding, Christmas party, or simply a get together of friends. Bring an instrument because you’ll be welcome to join in.