Orkney Folk Festival 2021

The 2021 Orkney Folk Festival, due to take place over May 27-30, is once again set to be a digital event, as a result of ongoing restrictions and uncertainty surrounding the covid-19 pandemic. 

Until very recently, we remained hopeful of being able to stage a live festival in the spring. Last year was the first time in our 38 years that the festival had ever been called off, and none of us thought for a second that we would have to do it again – let alone for a second consecutive year. Since last summer, we have been exploring, financially and logistically, a number of adaptations to the festival’s format – including the creation of an outdoor event, which would enable both social distancing and ventilation. 

However, the recent resurgence of covid-19 cases throughout Scotland and the UK, combined with associated lockdown restrictions upon both gatherings and travel, has created a rapidly-changing and ultimately unworkable backdrop upon which to plan for any live event just months away. As much as we would love to welcome everyone back to the festival in May, it seems that’s not to be just yet. Safety and avoiding risk to public health must come first.

We are all sorely disappointed to have to make this decision again, however with a few more months ahead of us than last year we are looking forward to creating brand new online programmes for the festival weekend (May 27-30), within the prevailing restrictions and as circumstances allow, celebrating Orkney and Orcadian musicians, singers and groups, as well as contributions from visiting artists.

As was the case following 2020’s cancellation, most, if not all, visiting artists scheduled to appear at the festival will now do so in 2022, with a number having already confirmed their appearances. We will make further announcements on this in due course. 

Next year’s festival will take place over May 26-29, 2022. Whilst the festival would usually precede the late spring UK Bank Holiday, this has been moved into June 2022 to align with the Queen’s platinum jubilee – however the festival dates will remain unchanged. 

Our thoughts go out to the great many local businesses affected by another uncertain year ahead for tourism, and to all of the artists who have had an incredibly difficult year with live performances, and the majority of their income, frozen for the time being. If you are able to support them through watching paid-for streams or online concerts, or through buying their merchandise, we would encourage you to do so – we need artists and musicians now, more than ever! 

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder, and we cannot wait to see everyone back at the festival once this is all behind us.

All the best,
Orkney Folk Festival Committee