FAQs

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

As the festival is run entirely by volunteers, please check to see if we’ve answered your query here before contacting us.

Accommodation and travel

Where should I stay?

We’re unable to make individual accommodation recommendations, but Orkney has a fantastic range of options catering for all preferences and budgets – from self-catering to hostels, hotels to campsites. We recommend visiting our friends at Orkney.com to narrow down your search and find the perfect place to rest up after a busy day at the festival.

How do I get to Orkney?

We’d recommend using Orkney.com’s comprehensive travel guide to plan your journey, but 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 make the journey without bringing 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 any 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 also have a chance to do some island hopping by joining events happening in Orkney’s North or South isles, which you can get to on 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.

Food and drink

Is there food and drink available at festival venues?

We’d recommend checking the event key in our festival programme to see which venues offer food and drink, as 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 is famed for its 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 make sure you book in advance, though there’s always takeaway options available throughout the town too.

General

When’s the festival taking place?

The festival always take place the last weekend in May to coincide with the late May UK bank holiday, giving you a day to recover from an action-packed weekend! We run more than 30 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 where you buy tickets for individual concerts, dances, workshops and clubs, allowing you to tailor make your perfect festival experience. Events take place in a range of venues across Orkney, though Stromness is at the heart of the festival with lots of activity in the Town Hall and Community Centre over the weekend. As we don’t offer weekend or day tickets like other festivals, there’s no accommodation, such as camping, included with your ticket, meaning 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?

With history, culture, wildlife, arts, crafts and food and drink around every corner, Orkney really does have something for everyone. We’re unable to make individual recommendations, but you can find a wealth of information on Orkney.com to help you plan your visit.

Orkney Friends

What are the benefits of becoming an Orkney Friend?

You’ll be supporting an award-winning music festival run by a dedicated team of volunteers who are passionate about celebrating folk music! And if that’s not enough, you’ll also have the chance to access exclusive events during the festival, buy your tickets (two adults and unlimited children per event) in advance of the general sale and receive 10% off Orkney Folk Festival merchandise. NorthLink Ferries also usually offer us very generous travel discounts for Orkney Friends, but please note as we have to apply for their sponsorship annually this is not guaranteed year-on-year. Visit our Orkney Friends page for more information.

When are Orkney Friends memberships on sale?

Orkney Friends memberships are on sale for nine months each year. We’ll open sales on 1 June following that year’s festival and you can sign up any time before the following 28 February – or 29 February in a leap year. Your membership lasts for 12 months following the date you sign up.

How long does an Orkney Friends membership last?

Orkney Friends is sold as an annual rolling membership. Memberships start from the date you sign up as an Orkney Friend on our website and last for a period of 12 months. At the end of the 12 month period memberships will renew automatically unless you contact us at friends@orkneyfolkfestival.com to cancel.

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

The exact date for the Orkney Friends ticket pre-sale will vary each year, but we’ll confirm this with all Orkney Friends members well in advance of it happening.

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

Orkney Friends members are entitled to buy up to two adult and unlimited children’s tickets per event. However, the ticket allowance covers one event per programme timeslot across the whole weekend, so you can’t buy tickets for multiple events happening at the same time. For example, you can’t use your allowance to buy tickets for two events that are both at 7.30pm on Friday, but you can order tickets for another event on Saturday at 7.30pm.

Sessions

Where can I find a session?

Stromness has a fantastic atmosphere over the festival weekend, with music pouring out of pubs throughout the town. We’ll publish a schedule of planned informal, social tunes on our Orkney Folk Festival noticeboard at Stromness’s pierhead during the weekend so you can see what’s happening when.

Tickets

When can I buy tickets?

Our ticket sale launches on our website shortly after the programme is available in March. Please look out for confirmed sale dates being shared on our website and social media or sign up to our mailing list to get email updates.

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

The exact date for the Orkney Friends ticket pre-sale will vary each year, but we’ll confirm this with all Orkney Friends members well in advance of it happening.

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

Orkney Friends members are entitled to buy up to two adult and unlimited children’s tickets per event. However, the ticket allowance covers one event per programme timeslot across the whole weekend, so you can’t buy tickets for multiple events happening at the same time. For example, you can’t use your allowance to buy tickets for two events that are both at 7.30pm on Friday, but you can order tickets for another event on Saturday at 7.30pm.

Venues and events

Where are the main festival venues?

Our three busiest venues are in Stromness at the Town Hall, Academy and Community Centre. Aside from these three, events taking place in local community centres or halls across Orkney vary every year.

Is there food and drink available at festival venues?

We’d recommend checking the event key in our festival programme to see which venues offer food and drink, as 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?

Yes, Stromness Community Centre is home to our Festival Club offering a fully seated, intimate, cabaret concert. If you’re looking for something a bit livelier, The Stomps are the place to be, giving you the chance to burn off some energy while enjoying local and visiting acts.

Can I take photographs or film at venues?

Flash photography and filming is strictly prohibited, as well as being a distraction for performing artists and fellow audience members. Please keep your phones and cameras away so everyone can enjoy the event.

Is there disabled access at festival venues?

Yes. You can let us know of any venue accessibility requirements in your ticket order so we can make sure you have a great festival.

Volunteering

How can I get involved as a volunteer?

Please let us know if you’re interested in volunteering for Orkney Folk Festival 2023 by emailing volunteer@orkneyfolkfestival.com. If you volunteered in 2022, we’ll have your email address on record and will be in touch when we begin to make arrangements for this year’s festival.

What does volunteering involve?

Volunteer tasks can vary. Typically, the majority of shifts will involve front of house duties such as stewarding, checking tickets on the door, showing audience members to their seats and letting them know where the toilets are etc. However, we also require volunteers to staff our festival shop, drive artists to venues and help with setting up and clearing down our main venues before and after the festival.

Will I get to watch the events I volunteer at?

As a volunteer you’ll often get to enjoy parts of performances, but you’ll be required to be front of house for most of the event. Therefore, if there are events you’re really excited to see we recommend that you buy tickets rather than volunteering, as we can’t guarantee how much of the event you’ll have to time to watch.

Will my travel and accommodation be provided?

As a charity we’re unable to provide any travel and accommodation for volunteers, including getting you to the venue(s) you’re volunteering at. Please see the accommodation and travel FAQ section above for more information to help you plan your visit.

Will I ever be left alone to staff an event?

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

When will the volunteer rota be finalised?

The festival programme will be released in March 2023. After this, we’ll begin to make arrangements and the volunteer rota will be drawn up during April and May 2023. We’ll provide further updates nearer the time.