Scotland’s islands are not only beautiful, they offer an abundance of things to do throughout the year. Whether you long for the windswept shores of Orkney or a trip to the whisky mecca of Islay, it’s a great idea to plan your visit around a popular event.
Take a look at the cultural events below and take part in a unique experience around Scotland’s coast. Alternatively, start planning an island odyssey with our list of Ultimate Scottish Islands Holidays.
January, February, March
Up Helly Aa – 31 January 2023
Twelve fire festivals take place across the Shetland Islands between January and March each year. The main festival takes place in Lerwick on the last Tuesday in January and sees a procession of people carrying burning torches through the town, before a replica Viking longship is set alight. Unforgettable!
April, May, June
Shetland Folk Festival – 27 – 30 April 2023
Welcome to the UK’s most northerly folk festival. The festival features an amazing line-up of local and visiting acts that will perform at venues across the Shetland Islands.
Isle of Arran Mountain Festival – 12 – 15 May 2023
Featuring a packed programme of hill walks, scrambles, mountain running sessions and even night walks, this is the ideal festival for those that love the great outdoors, stunning views and a chance to catch up afterwards over coffee, tea and cake!
Orkney Folk Festival – 25 – 28 May 2023
Celebrations are in order for this year’s Orkney Festival as it celebrates it’s 40th anniversary! Enjoy a musical filled weekend and experience the very best of Orkney’s rich, vibrant folk scene with a whole of musicians set to take centre-stage.
Fèis Ìle – The Islay Festival – 26 May – 4 June 2023
As they say on Islay “Come for the whisky, return for the island”. Fèis Ìle is truly a celebration of Islay’s spirit and unique culture where visitors can enjoy ceilidhs, tours and jaw-dropping sunsets, all washed down with a dram.
Arran Folk Festival – 9 – 11 June 2023
Folk music aficionados will love this intimate island festival that offers concerts in multiple venues. Don’t miss the late night shows, which always draw a crowd.
St Magnus International Festival – 16 – 23 June 2023
This festival has been at the heart of Orkney’s cultural life since 1977. With music, theatre, dance, literature and more, the programme delivers for lovers of the arts during Orkney’s magical midsummer.
July & August
Féis an Eilein – Skye Festival – 2023 date TBC
Head for Eilean a’ Cheó – the Misty Isle – for a spectacular programme of music, theatre, dance, literature and children’s events, taking place in venues and public spaces around the magical Isle of Skye.
Shetland Nature Festival – 2023 date TBC
Shetland’s natural wonders range from some of Europe’s most spectacular seabird colonies to rare wild flowers. During this summer festival you can take a guided walk by day and listen to an expert give a talk in the evening. There’s something for everyone.
Tiree Music Festival – 7 – 9 July 2023
Delve into a true island festival atmosphere on the glorious Isle of Tiree off Scotland’s west coast. Just imagine picture-perfect white sands, world-famous surfing conditions, lush scenery and landscapes, and add in toe-tapping tunes, and you’ve got yourself and unforgettable island festival experience. It’s no wonder that Tiree is nicknamed the ‘Hawaii of the North’.
Hebridean Celtic Festival – 12 – 15 July 2023
Set in the magnificent grounds of Lews Castle, overlooking Stornoway Harbour, this is one of the best family-friendly music festivals in Scotland.
Eilean Dorcha Festival – 27 – 29 July 2023
Affectionately known as the friendly festival, Uist’s annual summer festival guarantees some great bands and amazing scenery. Various workshops are available too with local crafts, local produce and fun rides for children.
ButeFest – 28 – 30 July 2023
Nestling idyllically in the Firth of Clyde, the Isle of Bute is easily accessed by CalMac ferry from Wemyss Bay and the ButeFest site is just across the island at Ettrick Bay. Expect a rollercoaster of music, food and fun at this family-friendly festival.
Orkney International Science Festival – 7 – 13 September 2023
Join in with music, workshops, talks, performances, exhibitions and more with this set-to-be-magical virtual event. Learn more in this virtual 30th anniversary festival celebration with a special focus on the Year of Coasts & Water.
Jura Music Festival – 22 – 24 September 2023
Home to more deer than people, the Isle of Jura is a true gem! Experience a range of music genres and performers at the Jura Music Festival this September!
Viking Week, Orkney – 2023 date TBC
Celebrate Norse heritage in Orkney with a series of talks, tours and events. Some highlights include a guided archaeology tour of Birsay and Orphir, and a Viking walking tour of Kirkwall to learn about the harbour ad old shoreline where Norse traders would have operated.
OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER
Taste of Shetland – 2023 date TBC
Tune in to learn how some of Shetland’s leading producers make their products and dishes, enjoy live cooking demonstrations, hear culinary discussion and take part in food-related quizzes and other entertainment.
Isle of Mull Car Rally – 12 – 15 October 2023
If motor racing is your thing then you won’t want to miss the Beatson’s Building Supplies Isle of Mull Car Rally. This thrilling race will see a host of crews pit themselves against the Hebridean island’s legendary twisting roads.
Tiree Wave Classic – 14 – 20 October 2023
This thrilling festival is the longest-running professional windsurfing event in the world, but there’s plenty for spectators to do too. Try surfing, paddle boarding or windsurfing, spend some time in the event village and the nightlife is brilliant.
Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival – 2023 date TBC
Scottish and international musicians join together to present a jam-packed festival in the unique location of Islay. The festival features a taste of Islay, so watch out for hand-dived scallops, crabs, chocolates, homebaking and of course, whisky.
If you want to find out more about visiting Scotland’s islands then take a look at our Islands & Island Hopping page.
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