The mysteries of the Orkney Islands never fail to attract young and old from far and near. The long-gone voices from the ancient sites dotted around these islands could tell us many tales of ancient civilisations, religious customs, and much more at which we can only guess. The voices may be quiet now, but they have left extraordinary remains of villages, howes, stone circles, and tombs which fire the imagination of all who visit them.
Of Orkney’s incredible allure and huge range of attractions, though, there is perhaps less mystery. Green, rolling fields bordered by huge seascapes, the festivals and shows, stacks and crashing seas, the sunken fleet at Scapa Flow, wonderful food and drink, island-hopping, golf at midnight in mid-summer, Orcadian music and crafts and of course spectacular wildlife.
In Orkney you can even feel the air and the pace of life doing you good.
The Stromness Yule Log pull is a 'tug of war' competition, pitting those living in the North end (Northenders) against those from the South End (Soothenders) in a battle of strength as a large log is dragged through the streets of the town to opposing goals.
There's plenty to do in Orkney during January 2020, including some super art exhibitions, great musical events and Burns Night. Read our events guide so that you don't miss a thing!
Orkney has a packed calendar of diverse events. We’ve collected a list of annual events and festivals, from summer agricultural shows to the mass yuletide game ‘The Ba’. With classical, jazz, rock and traditional folk music mixed in between, Orkney has every possible taste covered.
Tom Muir is an Orcadian storyteller and historian. His wife Rhonda is from America and she recently created the fantastic Orkneyology.com website, which is the ideal place to start when researching a visit to Orkney. In the summer of 2019 they launched the Orkney Folklore Trail App together; it’s a brilliant resource for discovering Orkney’s places and its fascinating folklore. NorthLink spoke to Tom and Rhonda Muir and asked them all about it!
Visiting Orkney? Why not take a look at our island by island and place by place guide. You'll find lots of interesting facts and helpful hints and tips so that you can make the most of your trip to Orkney.
Egilsay is tied to one of the most well-known stories in Orkney's history; the martyrdom of St Magnus. However it is also a fantastic place to visit for a day; and we loved exploring the island, seeing the cenotaph, St Magnus Chruch, the RSPB reserve and the brilliant beach.
Deerness Distillery is a relatively new business, having only been open for just over three years in Orkney. However with their multi-award winning Sea Glass gin and smooth Into the Wild vodka they have made an indelible mark in the gin & vodka scene here in Scotland and the UK. With new product being released recently, such as Scuttled gin, owner Stuart Brown caught up with NorthLink Ferries to talk about the importance of taking your time to get things just right!
100 years ago, the German navy did the unthinkable: it deliberately sank 52 of its own ships in one day. The scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow on 21 June 1919 was a deliberate act of sabotage carried out on the orders of Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, who feared that the fleet would fall into the hands of the victorious Allied powers of the First World War.
We love visiting Orkney's North Isles; each one is quite different from the other and from the Orkney Mainland. You'll find much to do when visiting Eday, Egilsay, North Ronaldsay, Papa Westray, Rousay, Sanday, Shapinsay, Stronsay, Westray or Wyre. However we thought it would be interesting to pick out one place; the one thing you must see when visiting; a highlight for each of North Isles. Read on - we hope you agree with our choices!
Located close to the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm, VS Distillers are an exciting new company creating bottles of hand-crafted rum, named after Orkney's pirate, John Gow. NorthLink were pleased to speak to Collin Van Schayk, who spoke passionately about distilling Scottish rum and the story of VS Distillers so far.
For an Orkney adventure to remember we’d highly recommend a visit to the Brough of Birsay. This is a tidal island on the north-west tip of the Orkney mainland which can be reached by a causeway when the tide is low. On the island itself there are the remains of a Viking settlement and the earlier Pictish community. The Brough of Birsay is also one of the best places on the Orkney Mainland to see puffins. We have compiled a list of fascinating facts you need to know about the Brough of Birsay and surrounding area before you go!