Orkney is lucky to have a wide variety of excellent facilities across the islands that can host all kinds of events, from small book groups and exhibitions, to concerts and weddings.
Many of these double as community centres, providing vital space for islanders to meet, socialise and plan for the future of their parishes. On any given evening these halls and rooms could be hosting badminton, pantomime rehearsals, or even doubling as an election polling station.
The main venue for sports, arts and leisure in the county is the Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall, known locally as 'Picky'. The centre, which boasts a fantastic swimming pool and health suite in addition to a range of other facilities - including a climbing wall, squash courts and a soft play area - hosts major concerts, gigs, performances, and sporting competitions. The 243-seater New Phoenix Cinema shows blockbusters (in 2D and 3D), world films and even live theatre performances via satellite link.
There are healthy living centres in St Margaret’s Hope, Hoy, Rousay, Shapinsay, Westray, Sanday and Stronsay, each offering a range of fitness equipment. There’s also a gym at Kirkwall Grammar School, and the Dounby Centre has a sports hall, fitness suite and function rooms too.
Other leisure services include Orkney Library and Archive in Kirkwall, and the Stromness Library. You can study local history through primary sources in the Orkney Archive, trace your family tree with the Orkney Family History Society, view images in the photographic archive and listen to recordings in the sound archive. The library service also operates mobile vans to take books to outlying areas and island communities.
The Orkney Theatre - part of the Kirkwall Grammar School complex - is a state-of-the-art venue for all manner of concerts, performances, and events, with seating for 384 people.
The Sound Archive in Kirkwall is Orkney’s newest venue hosting exciting new musicians and more established acts on a regular basis. And many of Orkney’s pubs and hotels double as venues for various concerts and festivals.