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 Ultimate Scottish Islands Itinerary.
January, February, March
Up Helly Aa 28 January 2020
This iconic fire festival takes place across the Shetland Islands on the last Tuesday in January. The main festival sees a procession of people carrying burning torches through Lerwick, before a replica Viking longship is set alight. Unforgettable!
Skye Winter Climbing Festival February 2020
Open to both expert mountaineers and relative beginners, the Skye Winter Climbing Festival is a true showcase of alpine mountaineering. Guests come from far and wide to enjoy the climbing and scenery.
Fèis Mhuile 7 – 9 February 2020
Fèis Mhuile run activities in music, film, drama, dance, arts and the Gaelic language on the Isle of Mull. If you are interested in traditional Scottish culture then this could be the event for you.
April, May, June
Beò Festival 17 – 18 May 2019
A brand new festival of Gaelic music and dance on the enchanting island of Skye. Taking place in the pretty venue of Armadale Castle & Gardens you are sure to find something to sing and dance about.
The Islay Festival 24 May – 1 June 2019
The malt will be flowing and the music ringing out across the magical isle of Islay as the island’s diverse festival returns. Held in the last week of May each year, this lively festival features ceilidhs, whisky tastings and even golf!
Arran Folk Festival 7 – 9 June 2019
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 21 – 27 June 2019
If the dramatic landscapes of Orkney aren’t enough to entice you north this summer, then maybe this popular arts festival will. Packed with theatre, music and visual arts the St Magnus International Festival is one of Scotland’s leading summer events.
Skye Food and Drink Festival 24 – 29 June 2019
There are many reasons to visit Skye – its wild landscapes, ancient history, warm hospitality and of course the island’s exceptional food and drink. The Skye Food and Drink Festival presents a chance to enjoy all of these things during high summer.
July, August, September
Orkney Garden Festival 4 – 14 July 2019
With open gardens, illustrated talks, flower arranging demos, bus tours and a special gardeners question time with BBC2, the Orkney Garden Festival is one for all you green-fingered souls out there.
Shetland Nature Festival 6 – 14 July 2019
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.
Hebridean Celtic Festival 17 – 20 July 2019
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 26 – 28 July 2019
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.
Skye Live Festival 5 – 7 September 2019
Skye Live is an annual two-day music festival taking place in Portree on the Isle of Skye. The perfect excuse for a visit to the Misty Isle.
Islay Jazz Festival 13 – 15 September 2019
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.
October, November, December
Orkney Storytelling Festival 24 – 27 October 2019
Storytelling has been going on in Orkney for thousands of years and this annual event brings together local and invited storytellers from across the world. Warm yourself by the fire as experienced storytellers delve into imagined worlds.
Isle of Mull Car Rally 11 – 13 October 2019
If motor racing is your thing then you won’t want to miss the Isle of Mull Car Rally. This thrilling race will see a host of crews pit themselves against the Hebridean island’s legendary twisting roads.
Orkney Winter Solstice 22 December 2019
Orkney is a fascinating place to bring in the Winter Solstice. Taking place on the shortest day of the year at the ancient Standing Stones of Stenness, this is a great introduction to Orcadian traditions and folklore.
if you want to find out more about visiting Scotland’s islands then take a look at our Islands & Island Hopping page.