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What’s on Mainland Orkney

Orkney’s main island is simply referred to as the Mainland, with most of its population living in and around the towns of Kirkwall and Stromness. Must-see archaeological attractions here include the Ring of Brodgar stone circle, the chambered cairn of Maeshowe and the incredibly well-preserved Skara Brae village. A wide range of sporting and outdoor activities are available, making for action-packed days out, and there are a variety of annual events and festivals for everyone to enjoy. Too many to list in full here, these include the Orkney Folk Festival, which takes place in May; The St Magnus Festival, which celebrates the arts in its many forms each summer; The County Show, which gives farmers the chance to meet, compete and showcase the best of Orkney farming produce every August; and the Orkney International Science Festival, which attracts world-class speakers and scientific experts to the islands each September.

area highlights

17th - 20th April 2015, Orkney:

The Jazz Festival is held in the Stromness Hotel, and showcases local jazz musicians, as well as musicians from the jazz scene within the UK.

21st - 24th May 2015, Orkey:

Orkney Folk Festival is a firmly established date in Scotland’s folk festival calendar and has drawn visitors back many times since it started in 1982.

19th - 24th June 2015, Orkney:

St Magnus International Festival is Orkney’s midsummer celebration of the arts.

8th August 2015, Orkney:

Held each year on the second Saturday in August, Orkney’s County Show is a fantastic opportunity to see some of Orkney’s quality livestock.

18th - 20th September 2015, Orkney:

The Orkney Blues Festival brings together local and national artists across multiple venues for a blistering weekend of blues music.

April - September, Kirkwall:

A fascinating collection tracing the history of early domestic radio and wartime communications in Orkney.

May-September, Orkney Islands:

A water-powered meal mill and kiln built in 1873 and still in operation today.

April - September, Kirkwall:

Two of Scotland’s finest examples of architecture, and highlighting Orkney’s close Norse and ecclesiastical links, the palaces are located near St Magnus cathedral.

Year-round, Orkney:

Although small by Maeshowe’s standards, the Cuween cairn is nonetheless an impressive feat of prehistoric engineering.

Year-round, Kirkwall:

Highland Park is the northernmost Scotch Whisky distillery in the world, and a visit to its five-star, award-winning visitor centre is a must.


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