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18 Must-Do Festivals on Scotland’s Islands

Up Helly Aa

Up Helly Aa

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.

Still to come in 2021…

September

Orkney International Science Festival 2 – 8 September 2021 

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.

Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival 17 – 19 September 2021

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.

Viking Week, Orkney 9 – 19 September 2021

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

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Taste of Shetland – 23 October 2021

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 7 – 10 October 2021

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 9 – 15 October 2021

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.

*Please check website for updates on events taking place this year.

January, February, March

Isle of Mull

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Up Helly Aa 25 January 2022*

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!

*The main event is cancelled for 2022. Keep an eye out on the website for updates on the other fire festivals in Shetland.

April, May, June

Isle of Arran

Isle of Arran

Shetland Folk Festival 28 April – 1 May 2022

Welcome to the UK’s most northerly folk festival, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary in 2021. 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 TBC

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!

Hebridean Whisky Trail Festival TBC

Held at Torabhaig and Talisker distilleries on Skye, Isle of Harris Distillers and Isle of Raasay Distillery, this festival will return in 2020 with fabulous whisky tastings and local food and drink events. Events will also be held at the Sligachan Hotel, Cuillin Brewery and Aros Centre, all on Skye.

Féis Ile – The Islay Festival May 2022

The malt will be flowing and the music will ring 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 and is ideally timed for Whisky Month!

Arran Folk Festival June 2022

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 June 2022

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.

July & August

Isle of Lewis

Isle of Lewis

Féis an Eilein – Skye Festival July 2022

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 July 2022

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 13- 16 July 2022

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  22 – 23 July 2022

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 29 – 31 July 2022

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 15 minutes walk from Rothesay Ferry Terminal. Expect a rollercoaster of music, food and fun at this family-friendly festival.

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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