After three long years, the Orkney Folk Festival returns to a full-scale live event this weekend, and in triumphant style – breaking all previous ticket records.
For the first time in the event’s 39-year history, more than 7,000 individual concert tickets have been sold before the Stromness-based festival opens today, with 17 of the festival’s 32 shows sold out .
In addition to record-breaking live audiences, folk fans at home can also tune in to this weekend’s festivities, with the addition of three recently announced live-streamed festival concerts. Dubbed the ‘Virtually Orkney Folk Festival‘, the inaugural hybrid edition of the festival builds on the success of the online editions of the previous two years, bringing audiences from around the world to Orkney in real time.
The Orkney Folk Festival, one of Scotland’s oldest folk festivals, will once again feature over 50 performers and over 250 musicians. Musicians and singers from across Scotland will join performers from England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, USA and India to perform alongside dozens of Orcadian artists venues in venues across Stromness and the Orkney mainland, May 26-29.
This year’s live festival is the first since 2019 and follows two highly successful digital editions which have drawn global online audiences to Orkney during the pandemic. A number of artists who were originally scheduled to appear in 2020 – some of whom appeared on screen during the 2021 Virtually Orkney Folk Festival – have been rescheduled and will finally take the stage for eager audiences this weekend.
Main Scottish Artists Karine Polwart, Skerryvore and Flamboyant violins will join international favorites this weekend, including the Canadian duo Madison Violet and Norwegian/Swedish firebrands SVERas well as globe-trotting Orcadian artists fara, Gnosis, The chair and Saltfishforty perform on the floor of the house.
Festival audiences are set to enjoy a program of stellar Scottish talent this year, including trailblazers Taliskfour-time Scottish Singer of the Year, Siobhan Millerfamous West Highland champions deeraward-winning Gaelic smallpipe player on BBC Radio 2 Brighde Chaimbeuland Scottish American troubadour Dean Owen with his new band, The Sinners.
Shetland fiddler Kevin Henderson will appear in a new transatlantic partnership with the famous American pianist Neil Pearlmanwhereas James Yorkton, Jon Thorne and Ranjana GhatakThe groundbreaking fusion of Scottish song with jazz and classic Indian sarangi will also bring acclaimed international collaborations to the stages of the Orkney Folk Festival. Among Scandinavia’s most virtuoso folk musicians, the Dane Helene Blum and Harald Haugaard Bandaged are set to return to Stromness, as are other festival favorites including the Yorkshire-based singer-songwriter Edwina Hayesand The Peter Wood Shetland Dance Group.
Rounding out the outstanding Scottish contingent are two exciting bands new to the festival; freewheeling threesome Langan’s gangwhich embrace Celtic, Roma, bluegrass, flamenco, swing and punk influences, and the contemporary violin, accordion, vocals, guitar and harp quartet Tannara.
For nearly four decades, the Orkney Folk Festival has been renowned for showcasing the islands’ folk musicians and singers alongside world-renowned guest artists, with other Orkney acts including the piano and violin duo of Jennifer Austin and Eric LinklaterOrkney Song Duo Sarah Jane Gibbon and Emma Grievefamous English accordionist (now resident in Orkney) Karen Tweed alongside Shetlander Margaret Robertsonand famous violin player Erika Shearer.
Award-winning Orcadian fiddler and mandolin, Graham Rorie is about to be joined by an all-star group in the staging Hudson’s Bay Orcadians; a suite of music inspired by the islanders who traveled from Stromness to the Hudson’s Bay Company in northern Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries. After a sold-out debut at Celtic Connections 2020, the show returns to Orkney Folk Festival 2022.
A highlight of the festival in recent years has been the festival’s all-Orcadian multi-generational collaboration, The meeting will return, celebrating a decade at the heart of the festival’s lineup, while the fiddler rally – organized by the West Mainland Strathspey and Reel Society – will return for its 39th outing on Sunday afternoon. As is festival tradition, tonight’s opening concert at Stromness Town Hall will be played by the town’s musicians Pipe Band RBL Stromness.
As well as 22 shows taking place at multiple venues in the festival’s home town of Stromness throughout the weekend, a further 10 gigs are also scheduled in Birsay, Deerness, Finstown, Harray, Holm, Kirkwall and Sandwick as event organized by volunteers. makes its long-awaited comeback.
In order to organize an event of such magnitude, particularly after two years of fallow, the festival gratefully receives the generous support of public organizations and corporate sponsors, of all local and national business communities. The main sponsors this year are the Orkney Islands Council, Creative Scotland, EventScotland, NorthLink Ferries and Lost Orchards Cider, as well as many individual sponsors of the event.
The festival also benefits from several thousand hours offered by hundreds of volunteers, who give their time freely to bring this world-renowned event to life. From the twelve-person, year-round management committee and the five-person council to those who might work on a single event in their local community hall, each of the festival’s community teams is essential to its long, continuous and growing duration. Hit.
Orkney Folk Festival producer Bob Gibbon said: “I really can’t believe it’s here – and it’s going to be better than ever. There have been dark times, quiet times, but now we’re really going to go for it. We look forward to welcoming the public back to Stromness and the festival in person, and receiving financial support to enable us to do parallel live streams is brilliant – we are so grateful to the funding bodies who have helped make of this a reality. We received so much great feedback from our Virtually Orkney Folk Festival last year, it’s great that we can keep this side of the festival running alongside the live event. Being able to reach those who cannot travel to Orkney or find it difficult to leave their homes for whatever reason is a real step forward in accessibility and we are happy to take steps to become a much more inclusive festival. Come in !
Eileen Cromarty, chairwoman of the Orkney Folk Festival, added“There is definitely excitement in the air for the festival to return in such style this year. All of our local and guest artists are thrilled to get back on stage, and I’m sure the audience will be especially excited to see them.
“It has been a difficult time for the music industry and festivals in particular, but we have had the opportunity to learn from our virtual efforts in 2020 and 2021, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive in terms of giving to those who cannot afford to live events the option of watching online. We are really excited to offer the opportunity to re-watch part of the festival live this year to global and local audiences.
So whether you’re listening to a spontaneous session in the new festival bar at the Stromness Community Center or attending a live streamed concert from the comfort of your own home, everyone has the opportunity to support the festival and celebrate the incredible showcase. music from Orkney. ”
Siobhan Anders, Head of Music at Creative Scotland, said: “Orkney Folk Festival is an important time in the Scottish festival calendar, and it’s so exciting to be hosting live activities again. By running a hybrid event, they can nurture that international audience and those who can’t traveling to the islands whilst also hosting a fantastic in-person event across Orkney, audiences and artists alike look set to enjoy a weekend of incredible music from local, national and international artists, hosted by a welcoming community.
Paul Bush OBE, Events Director of VisitScotland, said“We are delighted to support the Orkney Folk Festival through our national events program and look forward to seeing visitors return to Stromness in May. The folk music festival will bring economic and social benefits to the local community and contribute to the wider recovery of tourism and events in Scotland.
“Orkney Folk Festival joins our exciting portfolio of events taking place across Scotland this year and including these events in our calendar further strengthens Scotland’s position as a leading event destination in the world and reinforces Scotland’s place as the perfect stage for events.”
For more information, visit orkneyfolkfestival.com, and follow the festival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. A sample playlist of the 2022 festival lineup is also available below: