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New Year's Day Ba'

Every Christmas and New Year's Day, the streets of Kirkwall become the venue for a mass games of street football which it's said has its roots in the Norse era. The Ba' is a battle between two teams, the Uppies and the Doonies, to carry a hand-crafted leather ball to their respective goals at either end of the town.

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Orkney Sea Trout Fishing - February - late August, September & October (excl Sundays)

Orkney welcomes anglers attracted by over a hundred miles of sea trout shoreline, inland lochs stocked with canny brown trout and the promise of a day's exciting sea angling. We can’t promise tight lines all the time, but we’re sure you’ll be hooked on Orkney’s angling hotspots nonetheless. You’ll also receive a warm welcome and advice (along with a few ‘ones that got away’ tales) from our local fishing community.

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Winter Bird Race

Spend the day in a small team trying to spot as many species of bird as you can. You don't need to be a bird expert as you can be paired with experienced birders who are happy to impart their knowledge to novices. More info  at www.rspb.co.uk

Start of Brown Trout Fishing Season - March to end June

You can hire boats on our lochs for Fishing in Orkney. Enquire as to which of our cottages has a slipway into the Stromness Harbour (Scapa Flow). For more info www.orkneytroutfishing.co.uk

Orkney Ceilidh Weekend

Orkney Traditional Dance Association (OTDA). A program of day workshops and evening ceilidhs with music from local bands. The Pickaquoy Centre will provide a licensed bar where all usual bar rules apply. An Orkney Supper is served each evening. More info: www.orkneycommunities.co.uk/otda

Orkney Island Archeology Tours - April to June 

We are the only holiday company in Orkney to be run by archaeologists. All of our tours are personally led by either Dr Caz Mamwell BSc MA PhD FSA Scot or by Dr Dave Lawrence BSc MSc PhD FSA Scot, who both live in Orkney all year round and have an in depth understanding of Orkney’s archaeology, cultural traditions and history – as well as knowing all the best places to see seals! Visit https://www.orkneyarchaeologytours.co.uk/

Orkney Rugby Sevens 

The Orkney Rugby Sevens tournament has become one of the most popular events in the Orkney sporting calendar. Local sides are joined by visiting clubs from all over Scotland for the competition, with a full day of rugby entertainment held at Orkney Rugby Club's playing fields at Pickaquoy. There are refreshments and entertainment available throughout the day before a dance at night.

Visit the Orkney Rugby Club website for more details.

Orkney Nature Festival 

Orkney Nature Festival provides a whole host of ways to enjoy the island’s spectacular wildlife. With majestic hen harriers soaring through the sky, charismatic puffins on dramatic sea cliffs, and dolphins and whales patrolling the seas, Orkney is home to a magnificent range of wildlife. The Orkney Nature Festival is an annual celebration that gives both visitors and locals the opportunity to enjoy some of nature’s greatest spectacles.

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Norwegian Constitution Day 

Orkney became part of Scotland in 1468. For about 500 years before it had been ruled by Norse Earls, whose influence stretched as far as Ireland and who travelled as far as the Holy Land. Their influence can be seen in Norse derived placenames, surnames and dialect. Their most visible monument is the 12th Century St. Magnus Cathedral. On 17 May we celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day.

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Orkney Folk Festival 

The Orkney Folk Festival has become one of the most popular events on the Orkney calendar, bringing four days of the finest folk music to the islands. In a typical year, the festival will incorporate around 35 ticketed events across its four days, as well as countless pub sessions and free events in its hometown of Stromness. Around two thirds of the festival’s programme takes place in its west mainland base, with other events dotted around.

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Whale Watching Season - June to September 

Spotting a whale in the waters around Deerness & Scapa Flow are pretty good. If you are lucky you might spot dolphins. Whale watching on land: watch the western waters off the cliffs and shores of Orkney's Western islands and you'll have a good chance of spotting whales. Locals recommend Cantick Head on Hoy, Noup Head of Westray and North Hill as good places to watch wales.

St Magnus International Festival 

The St Magnus International Festival is Orkney's annual celebration of the arts, held around the islands at midsummer. Since its launch in 1977, the St Magnus International Festival has brought an incredible and eclectic array of performers to Orkney's insipiring landscape, filling the midsummer days and magical ancient landscape of the Orkney Islands with an exciting array of events.

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Summer Solstice

In June there will be a celebration of the Summer Solstice at the Comet Stone, near to the Ring of Brodgar. Our ritual is inclusive and designed to be accessible for people of all religions / beliefs and none – it incorporates aspects of modern Paganism and refers to Orcadian traditions and folklore.

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St Magnus Marathon 

The St Magnus Marathon is the most northerly event of its kind in the UK.

Launched in 2016, the marathon has become a real fixture for runners from Orkney and all over the world.

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Ness of Brodgar Excavations

The Ness of Brodgar is one of the jewels in Orkney's archaeological crown. The Ness is actually the thin strip of land in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site that separates the lochs of Harray and Stenness. A geophysical survey in 2002 revealed a huge Neolithic complex beneath the Ness, halfway inbetween the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar. Since then, the excavations at the incredible site have attracted attention across the world, and welcomed thousands of visitors keen to see history being uncovered in front of them.

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Stromness Shopping Week

Stromness Shopping Week is the longest running festival in Orkney, a real celebration of the town and its people. The annual gala week was launched in 1948 and has become a fantastic showcase of community spirit in and around Stromness, with plenty of fun and games on offer. Some of the regular favourites include the Yard of Ale, the Beer Race, the Holms Swim and the Shopping Week 10k race.

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The North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival 

The North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival is an annual celebration of culture and conservation in Orkney's most northerly community. First launched in 2016, the festival aims to attract volunteers from across the globe to help with the annual task of maintaining and rebuilding the stone sheep dyke that encircles the island.

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Sanday Agricultural Show 

If you visit Orkney in August, you'll soon appreciate that farming is much more than a successful industry. The Sanday Agricultural Association usually holds its annual Agricultural and Industrial Show on the first Friday in August. The best of the island's livestock - including cows, sheep, ponies and poultry - will all come under the watchful eyes of visiting judges. The dog show will also take place, pitting pretty pets against each other for the top prize!

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Orkney Classic Motor Show 

Orkney Vintage Club's annual rally showcases a display of vintage cars, tractors and machinery. Display of old/exotic cars, tractors, motorbikes and stationary engines with a working demonstration of a mill. There is also an indoor display of interesting old artefacts and a car boot sale on the Sunday. The annual Vintage Rally is a real window into the past and a fascinating display of the development and impact of machinery on everyday life in the islands.

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Orkney County Show 

If you visit Orkney in August, you'll soon appreciate that farming is much more than a successful industry. The County Show brings Orkney's show season to a close on the second Saturday of August. The Bignold Park in Kirkwall is transformed into a hive of activity, with the best livestock from around the islands on display. Winners from all the local shows join other entrants and the competition is fierce! There are prizes for horses, dogs and pets too.

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The Riding of the Marches

This traditional event sees horses, ponies, carriages and their riders take to the streets of Kirkwall to carry a standard along the old boundary of the town. Happening on the second Sunday of August, it's quite a sight, watching the horses and riders emerge from Tankerness Lane onto Broad Street at 2pm and gathering infront of St Magnus Cathedral. After a short speech, the standard is passed to the current year's bearer and the group sets off through the town towards the Pierhead.

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Orkney International Science Festival

The Orkney International Science Festival kicks off Orkney’s autumn festival season. It’s a sparkling mix of fascinating science from the very frontiers, and the sheer enjoyment of a festival in an island setting. Full of talks, workshops, demonstrations and social gatherings, there's always a packed programme of events for folk to take in. For more information and to view the full programme, see the official website. The Festival also has a very lively online magazine of science and exploration.

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Gore Vellye (Autumn Equinox)

On Tuesday 22nd September 2020 at 6pm there will be a celebration of Gore Vellye (Autumn Equinox) at the Standing Stones of Stenness. Our ritual is inclusive and designed to be accessible for people of all religions / beliefs and none – it incorporates aspects of modern Paganism and refers to Orcadian traditions and folklore.

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Orkney Storytelling Festival

The Orkney Storytelling Festival is a celebration of the oral tradition in Orkney, with tales focusing on the history and heritage of the islands. The festival always features a wide programme, with events held in venues right across the islands. It has a truly international flavour too, welcoming local storytellers along with visitors from the likes of Scotland, Ireland, the United States, Canada and Africa.

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Seal Viewing - October and November

Orkney is an internationally important breeding site for two species of seals – the grey & the common seal. These charismatic creatures are both friendly and inquisitive, but it's best to steer clear of mothers with pups. You are certain to spot seals here basking on skerries at low tide, or even have them follow you in the water as you walk along the shore. Orkney is estimated to be home to 25,000 Grey seals, and 7,000 Common seals, so the chances of seeing a seal are extremely high. Common dolphins, porpoises, Minke whales, Humpback whales, as well as orcas can also be seen. Breeding seals can be seen from all of our Harbour Cottages – on the small island of Inner Holmes.

Kirkwall Bonfire and Fireworks Display

Bonfire Night in Kirkwall can be one of the most exciting nights of the year. There are loads of Guy Fawkes events in Kirkwall and no matter what the weather's like, you can always be sure a firework party in Kirkwall will always draw in a big crowd.

Winter Solstice

the Winter Solstice at the Standing Stones of Stenness. Our ritual is inclusive and designed to be accessible for people of all religions / beliefs and none – it incorporates aspects of modern Paganism and refers to Orcadian traditions and folklore. This ceremony takes place just before sunset, in the evening, of the longest night of the year – as we finish, the soon-to-be-reborn sun will set into the Hoy Hills.

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Christmas Day Ba'

Every Christmas and New Year's Day, the streets of Kirkwall become the venue for a mass games of street football which it's said has its roots in the Norse era. The Ba' is a battle between two teams, the Uppies and the Doonies, to carry a hand-crafted leather ball to their respective goals at either end of the town.

Visit orkney.com for more event information