FAQs

You can find answers to the most common questions we’re asked below.

As the festival is volunteer-run, please check if we’ve answered your query here before you contact us.

Accommodation and travel

Where should I stay?

We can’t make individual recommendations, but Orkney has options for all preferences and budgets. Visit Orkney.com to find the perfect place to rest up after a busy day at the festival.

How do I get to Orkney?

Use Orkney.com’s travel guide to plan your journey. There are a range of options available including daily flights and ferry connections. The ferries connect with rail and bus links to major Scottish cities so it’s possible to travel without a car. If you’re not sure where to start, local business Scapa Travel would be happy to help you plan your trip.

I won’t have a car. What public transport is available?

The festival doesn’t offer audience transport to venues. However there’s a good network of public buses between Stromness and Kirkwall and to other areas. You can find out more about our bus network on the Orkney Islands Council website. You might have a chance to do some island hopping by joining events happening in Orkney’s North or South isles. You can get to them using Orkney Ferries or Loganair inter-isles flights. We recommend planning ahead to make sure you know how and when you’re going to get to where you need to be.

Can I book a reliable taxi?

Local taxi firms will be very busy over festival weekend, so we recommend booking ahead. There are several local firms including Craigies Taxis on 01856 878787, Orkney Cabs on 01856 875000 and Orkney Taxis on 01856 875511.

Digital pass

How do I book a digital pass?

Visit the ticket page of our website and add a digital pass ticket to your basket. Complete the check out process to secure your free ticket before the first event stream.

How much does the pass cost?

The pass is free. Our live streams are supported by Event Scotland’s National Events Programme.

How many events does the pass cover?

The pass covers three events. One event will be streamed each evening between Friday 24 and Sunday 26 May.

Which events can I stream?

The events you can watch through the pass will remain a surprise until the beginning of each live stream. You can watch one of the concerts beginning at 7.30pm on both Friday 24 and Saturday 25 May. The ticket also includes one of the three farewell concerts which start at 6.30pm on Sunday 26 May.

Do I have to watch the live stream at the time of the event?

No, the streams will be available for 24 hours in your online ticket account so you have time to catch up.

How do I access the live stream?

Your digital pass confirmation email will include a link for accessing the streams. Please keep this email safe until the festival weekend. Between Friday 24 and Sunday 26 May 2024, you’ll use the link to log in and view that day’s live streamed event. Your login details will be the same as the ones you use when you sign up for the digital pass.

I’ve lost my email with the live stream link. How will I access it?

Login to the account you signed up for a digital pass with on the ticket page of our website. Open the digital pass page from the list of events and you’ll be able to view the live stream at the bottom of the page.

Why are you offering a digital pass?

We want to make the event as inclusive as possible, so you can enjoy artists from home even if you can’t attend in person. We can also share the festival experience with people who haven’t been before.

Food and drink

Is there food and drink available at festival venues?

We’d recommend checking the event information in our festival programme to see which venues offer food and drink. This varies over the course of the weekend. Some of our venues have a bar and if food’s available it’s more likely to be a snack than a full meal.

What other food options are available?

Orkney offers high quality food and drink, so you’ll be spoilt for choice! There’s a range of excellent eateries, so check out Orkney.com’s eating out guide. Restaurants in Stromness are usually full during the festival so book in advance. There’s always takeaway options available throughout the town too.

General

When’s the festival taking place?

The festival takes place the last weekend in May. It coincides with the late May UK bank holiday, giving you a day to recover from an action-packed weekend! We run more than 40 events during four days from the Thursday evening to Sunday evening. Check our website banner for the dates of the next festival, which we’ve agreed years in advance.

How does the festival work?

We offer a multi-event format. You buy tickets for individual events to tailor make your perfect festival experience. Events happen in venues across Orkney, but Stromness is its base. Lots of activity happens in the town’s Town Hall and Community Centre over the weekend. We don’t offer weekend or day tickets, so there’s no accommodation included with your ticket. This means you need to organise your own plans for somewhere to stay.

I’ve never been to Orkney before. What else should I do when I’m here?

Orkney really does have something for everyone. We’re can’t make individual recommendations, so visit Orkney.com to plan your trip.

Can my dog come to the festival?

While we love dogs, we unfortunately can’t welcome them to the festival. We must follow the policies of the organisations who run our venues, so dogs can’t come to events. As our events are noisy and busy, we also couldn’t guarantee dogs would have a good experience joining you.

Orkney Friends

What are the benefits of becoming an Orkney Friend?

You can support an award-winning music festival run by a dedicated team of volunteers! You’ll also have the chance to access exclusive events, buy your tickets in advance and receive 10% off festival merchandise. NorthLink Ferries also usually offer us very generous travel discounts for Orkney Friends. Please note, as we apply for their sponsorship, this is not guaranteed year-on-year. Visit our Orkney Friends page for more information.

How many people can you buy an Orkney Friends membership for?

We offer five Orkney Friends membership levels – for up to two, four, six, eight or ten adults. The membership level you buy entitles you to pre-sale ticket access for that number of adults. Every membership level can also buy tickets for children.

When are Orkney Friends memberships on sale?

Orkney Friend membership sales are now closed for the 2024 event. They’ll reopen on 1 December 2024 ahead of the 2025 festival.

How long does an Orkney Friends membership last?

Orkney Friends is as an annual rolling membership. Memberships start from the date you sign up as an Orkney Friend on our website and last for 12 months. At the end of the 12 months period you’ll receive an email inviting you to renew your membership. If you don’t renew, your membership will end and you’ll lose access to your benefits.

When will the Orkney Friends ticket pre-sale take place?

The exact date for the Orkney Friends ticket pre-sale varies each year. The Friends pre-sale for the 2024 festival starts on Saturday 23 March 2024.

How do I prove I’m an Orkney Friend when I buy tickets in the pre-sale?

Your account is very clever and already knows you’re an Orkney Friend! Use the login details you created when signing up for Orkney Friends to buy tickets. If you’ve forgotten your password reset it in advance of the sale to make sure you have no issues when tickets go live.

How do the programme event timeslots work for Friends?

Orkney Friends can buy tickets for one event per programme timeslot. If you buy tickets for 7.30pm on Friday night, you can’t also book tickets for another event at the same time. Our ticket system won’t let you put conflicting events in your basket. Please bear this in mind when planning what you’d like to attend.

What are the free events Orkney Friends can book tickets for?

Orkney Friends are able to book free tickets for our BBC Radio Orkney Live Lounge sessions. You can go behind the scenes on a live radio broadcast and enjoy bonus performances. These tickets are available on a first come, first served basis.

How many tickets can I buy in the Orkney Friends pre-sale?

Orkney Friends can buy tickets for the number of adults in their membership level, plus children’s tickets. However, Orkney Friends can buy tickets for one event per programme timeslot. If you buy tickets for 7.30pm on Friday night, you can’t also book tickets for another event at the same time.

I’m an Orkney Friend. Can I share my ticket allowance with other Friends so we can book seats together?

If you’d like to complete a group booking you should buy one of our larger Orkney Friends membership levels. Orkney Friends is available for groups of up to two, four, six, eight or ten adults. Each membership can also buy unlimited children’s tickets. Please think about how many tickets you’ll want to buy for your group when you sign up as an Orkney Friend. We’re unable to change your membership level once you’ve paid.

Sessions

Where can I find a session?

Stromness has a fantastic atmosphere over the festival weekend. Music pours out of pubs throughout the town. We’ll publish a schedule of planned informal, social tunes on our noticeboard during the weekend so you can see what’s happening when.

Tickets

When can I buy tickets?

Tickets go on general release on Wednesday 27 March 2024. The Orkney Friends pre-sale will start on Saturday 23 March 2024.

How will I receive my tickets?

You’ll receive an email containing a link to your digital tickets once you’ve paid for your order. You can either download them and print a PDF, or save them to your Apple or Google Wallet. Make sure you take care of saving or printing your tickets well in advance of attending event(s). We can’t allow entry if you don’t bring your tickets with you. Please be aware there can be areas of patchy mobile signal in Orkney. We can’t guarantee that all mobile networks will have strong reception at our venues.

I don’t have a mobile device. How will I access my tickets?

You can download and save an A4 PDF version of your tickets, which you can then print off. If you don’t have a printer, there are local businesses who can help you. Sinclair Office Supplies  is in Stromness and Kirkwall and Orkney Office Supplies is in Kirkwall.

Why have you moved to digital tickets?

We’re working hard to reduce the environmental impact of the festival. Oe way we can do that is by reducing the number of tickets we print each year. Sending the tickets to you is also a much more efficient process. You receive your tickets within minutes of placing an order. It also reduces the amount of admin involved in the ticket process. It takes a lot of time for our volunteer team to print over 8,000 tickets in advance of the festival!

Can I gain access to an event without a ticket?

We understand that sometimes unexpected things happen and tickets get mislaid. However, we can’t allow anyone to enter a venue without tickets, so please don’t ask us to. If you need any help with your tickets contact us on tickets@orkneyfolkfestival.com.

Is using digital tickets secure?

Emailing digital tickets to you is secure, efficient and direct. You must look after your tickets in the run up to the festival, just like a paper copy. Don’t share your tickets with anyone who you aren’t planning to attend the event with. If someone gets a copy and uses it at the door of the event before you, we’ll unfortunately have to refuse you entry.

How will the ticket scanning work at each event?

Our digital tickets work in a similar approach to larger companies like Ticketmaster. When you arrive, take out your ticket, either as a digital or printed copy. It’ll have a barcode on it, which one of our friendly volunteers will scan to allow you entry into the event.

Will the signal be strong enough at all your venues for accessing digital tickets?

We recommend saving tickets to Apple or Google Wallet. We can’t guarantee that you’ll have a strong enough signal to download tickets when you arrive at all our venues. Make sure you come prepared to avoid any disappointment.

I’ve made a mistake with my order. Can I return my tickets?

All our tickets are non-refundable as outlined in our terms and conditions. Take care to only order tickets you actually need as we can’t offer you a refund for anything bought by mistake. However, you can visit our noticeboard in Stromness Ferry Terminal during the festival to list any you have for sale. Other customers can then contact you to ask about buying your spare tickets.

I no longer need my tickets. What should I do?

All our tickets are non-refundable, but you’re able to resell your tickets at your own discretion. We’re unable to do on your behalf either in advance of or during the festival. This includes at the doors of events if you have a last minute change of plans. Bear in mind that our team of volunteers can’t help you with any extra tickets you might have. However, you can visit our noticeboard in Stromness Ferry Terminal during the festival to list any you have for sale. Other customers can then contact you to ask about buying your spare tickets.

Will you still be selling tickets at the door of events?

Check the ticket page of our website to see if it’s sold out or if there might still be tickets left on the door. If there are tickets available these will be on a first come, first served basis. We recommend getting to the venue as soon as the doors open to secure your space. Please note we’re only able to accept cash for tickets at the door of our venues.

How do I prove I’m an Orkney Friend when I buy tickets in the pre-sale?

Your account is very clever and already knows you’re an Orkney Friend! Use the login details you created when signing up for Orkney Friends to buy tickets. If you’ve forgotten your password reset it in advance of the sale to make sure you have no issues when tickets go live.

How do the programme event timeslots work for Friends?

Orkney Friends can buy tickets for one event per programme timeslot. If you buy tickets for 7.30pm on Friday night, you can’t also book tickets for another event at the same time. Our ticket system won’t let you put conflicting events in your basket. Please bear this in mind when planning what you’d like to attend.

What are the free events Orkney Friends can book tickets for?

Orkney Friends are able to book free tickets for our BBC Radio Orkney Live Lounge sessions. You can go behind the scenes on a live radio broadcast and enjoy bonus performances. These tickets are available on a first come, first served basis.

How do I let you know about my accessibility requirements when booking tickets?

Our ticketing system is part of the Access Card scheme. It allows you to tell us about any accessibility requirements you have in advance of joining us at an event. Link your Access Card to your account so we receive your accessibility information. Our volunteers can then support any adjustments you need, so we can make sure you have a great festival.

Is there a waiting list for sold out events?

We don’t offer a waiting list as all our tickets are non-refundable. Individual ticketholders can resell any tickets they’re unable to use. We can’t facilitate this between different groups of customers. However, during the festival people will list tickets for sale on our noticeboard. Visit it in Stromness Ferry Terminal to see if anyone is selling the tickets you’re looking for.

How many tickets can I buy in the Orkney Friends pre-sale?

Orkney Friends can buy tickets for the number of adults in their membership level, plus children’s tickets. However, Orkney Friends can buy tickets for one event per programme timeslot. If you buy tickets for 7.30pm on Friday night, you can’t also book tickets for another event at the same time.

I’m an Orkney Friend. Can I share my ticket allowance with other Friends so we can book seats together?

If you’d like to complete a group booking you should buy one of our larger Orkney Friends membership levels. Orkney Friends is available for groups of up to two, four, six, eight or ten adults. Each membership can also buy unlimited children’s tickets. Please think about how many tickets you’ll want to buy for your group when you sign up as an Orkney Friend. We’re unable to change your membership level once you’ve paid.

I’m trying to place an order and the payment is stuck on a spinning circle. What should I do?

Please refresh your browser to see if your payment goes through or to reset the payment screen. Your tickets will stay in your basket and the payment won’t go through twice. If the issue persists please contact us on tickets@orkneyfolkfestival.com.

Venues and events

Where are the main festival venues?

Our three busiest venues are in Stromness at the Town Hall, Academy and Community Centre. Our other venues across Orkney vary every year.

Is there disabled access at festival venues?

Most of our venues have step free access, unless otherwise marked in the programme. Stromness Town Hall has a small number of wheelchair user tickets in the seating plan. If you’re a wheelchair user going to other venues, please book a general admission ticket.

How do I let you know about my accessibility requirements when booking tickets?

Our ticketing system is part of the Access Card scheme. It allows you to tell us about any accessibility requirements you have in advance of joining us at an event. Link your Access Card to your account so we receive your accessibility information. Our volunteers can then support any adjustments you need, so we can make sure you have a great festival.

Is there food and drink available at festival venues?

We’d recommend checking the event information in our festival programme to see which venues offer food and drink. This varies over the course of the weekend. Some of our venues have a bar and if food’s available it’s more likely to be a snack than a full meal.

Do you have a Festival Club?

Stromness Community Centre is home to our Lounge venue (formerly known as the Festival Club). It’s a seated, intimate, cabaret concert. If you’re looking for something a bit livelier, the Stomps are the place to be. They give you the chance to burn off some energy dancing while enjoying local and visiting acts.

Can I take photographs or film at venues?

Flash photography and filming is prohibited. It’s also a distraction for artists and fellow audience members. Please keep your phones and cameras away so everyone can enjoy the event.

Can my dog come to the festival?

While we love dogs, we unfortunately can’t welcome them to the festival. We must follow the policies of the organisations who run our venues, so dogs can’t come to events. As our events are noisy and busy, we also couldn’t guarantee dogs would have a good experience joining you.

Volunteering

How can I get involved as a volunteer?

Let us know you’re interested by emailing volunteer@orkneyfolkfestival.com. If you volunteered with us before, we’ll have your email address on record. We’ll be in touch when we begin to make arrangements for our next festival.

What does volunteering involve?

Volunteer tasks can vary. Most shifts involve front of house duties such as checking tickets and showing people to their seats. Other roles include working in our shop, driving artists and helping set up and clear venues.

Will I get to watch the events I volunteer at?

You’ll often get to enjoy parts of performances, but you’ll be needed front of house for most of the event. If there are events you’re excited to see we recommend that you buy tickets rather than volunteering. We can’t guarantee how much of the event you’ll have to time to watch.

Will you provide my travel and accommodation?

As a charity we’re unable to provide travel and accommodation, including getting you to where you’re volunteering at. Please see our accommodation and travel FAQs to help plan your visit.

When will I get my volunteer rota?

The festival programme launches in March. We’ll begin to make arrangements for the volunteer rota in April and May. You’ll receive more information in the run up to the festival.

Will I ever have to work at an event on my own?

An Orkney Folk Festival representative will be present to run each event. You’re generally there to support them and won’t alone or in charge of a task you’re uncomfortable with.