Orkney Folk Festival is one of the most prolific and special festivals in Scotland.
Established in 1982, with the first event in 1983, the festival is volunteer-run. Its committee works year-round, supported by hundreds of volunteers at the festival. This was one of the founding principles of the festival more than 40 years ago. It’s still central to the festival’s feel and welcome – for both artists and audiences.
In the eighties, both tourism and traditional music were experiencing challenges in Orkney. The summer tourist season was shrinking. Orkney needed to increase visitor numbers so the industry could become more sustainable. Folk and traditional music was also seen as unfashionable, particularly among younger generations.
BBC Radio Orkney and the Orkney Tourist Board established the first festival committee. Since May 1983, the festival has become an unmissable event in folk calendars. The event has also contributed to the outward promotion of Orcadian folk. This has included projects such as ‘The Gathering’.
Combining visiting and local acts is one of the festival’s most important characteristics. A sought-after stage worldwide, Orcadian artists make the festival what it is.
Many visitors enjoy our music and hospitality so much they return year after year. Some are musicians, storytellers or dancers themselves. But there are scores of others who simply come to enjoy the craic.
We invite you to come and experience the festival’s award-winning magic too.
“An amazing amount of fun – really just quite ridiculously cool.” The Scotsman
“an amazing, indelible few days” Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2