Welcome to Orkney in August!
Summer is certainly here - we enjoyed nearly 190 hours of sunshine in July, hopefully this month will bring more of the same!
Keep reading for a rundown of our August events as well as another hidden attraction feature.
What's on in August
August is a busy month here in Orkney, with some of our main events happening across the islands in the coming weeks.
This month brings the ever-popular agricultural show season. The events see locals join visitors to celebrate our best livestock and indulge in some of our finest food and drink too. The shows are the real heart of the summer and are very social events. Experience them for yourself in Sanday on the 4th of August, at the East Mainland Show on the 5th, in Shapinsay on the 8th, South Ronaldsay on the 9th, at the West Mainland Show in Dounby on the 10th and at the main event, the County Show in Kirkwall, on the 12th.
County Show weekend fun
County Show night is arguably the busiest night of the year in Kirkwall's pubs and clubs. Enjoy live music, with a dance at the Pickaquoy Centre too. Earlier in the night you can see one of the biggest games in the Orkney football calendar - the Parish Cup Final is a mini-World Cup and is always entertaining. The game kicks off at the Pickaquoy Centre on the 12th at 6.30pm.
The weekend doesn't stop there. On Sunday 13th the annual Riding of the Marches is held. It sees horses, carriages and riders take to the streets of Kirkwall to mark the traditional town boundary. They gather for speeches outside St Magnus Cathedral at 2pm - make sure you see the spectacular start of the procession. Sunday also sees the annual Vintage Rally at Orkney Auction Mart at Hatston, on the outskirts of Kirkwall, featuring vintage vehicles of all types. It all begins at 10 o'clock.
Unique event celebrates agricultural heritage
The village of St Margaret's Hope is the venue for a very unique event on Saturday 19th. The Festival of the Horse and the Boy’s Ploughing Match sees girls dress as working horses in beautiful costumes, with boys taking part in a ploughing match with mini, wooden ploughs. It's all about celebrating Orkney's agricultural heritage and is a very special event. The 'horse parade' begins at 2pm at the St Margaret's Hope school, with the ploughing match on the beach at the Sands of Wright starting at 3.30pm.
Elsewhere in Orkney this month, the North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival is back with its mix of activities, events and heritage-related projects. Take a look at the official website to see a full rundown of what's happening in this special island.
There is lots of archaeology related activity still to enjoy in Orkney this month. If you haven't seen the excavation work at the Ness of Brodgar yet then you have until the 23rd of August to grab a tour spot. ‘Mapping Magnus’ is part of the Magnus 900 calendar and will see community archaeology events held to mark the 900th anniversary of the death of St Magnus. Take part in surveys, excavations and workshops across Orkney's west mainland – visit the UHI Archaeology Institute website for more information.
For music fans, fiddle player Louise Bichan will be performing at the Gable End Theatre in Hoy with Conor Hearn on the 4th - phone 01856 791 312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for ticket information. On the 19th French DJ and producer Alan Braxe will be on stage at the Sound Archive in Kirkwall. Tickets can be purchased at Grooves in Kirkwall or via seetickets.com. Later in the month blues musician Jim Suhler and his band 'Monkeybeat' will be playing in Matchmakers in Kirkwall. Doors open at 8pm on the 27th – tickets are available from The Reel in Kirkwall or Sinclair Office Supplies in Stromness.
Tackle the Rousay Lap!
The Rousay Lap on the 26th is a half marathon run, cycle or walk route around the beautiful island of Rousay. It's a challenging circuit, but also a great chance to see this stunning island. Visit the Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust website for more information and to download an entry form. If you want to take part you'll need to book your place on the ferry by phoning 01856 751 360 too.
Happy Valley is a woodland oasis in the heart of Orkney's west mainland and on Saturday the 19th a special 'bioblitz' event will be held there. Spend the day recording and identifying as many species as possible with local experts. It's a great event for families and will be on between 12pm and 5pm. Just turn up and join the fun!
Inside, the West Side Cinema is showing the classic ‘Whisky Galore’ on the 5th at 7.45pm in Stromness Town Hall. The Pickaquoy Centre has its usual selection of films this month. You can see Spiderman: Homecoming, Dunkirk and much more. View the full schedule via the Picky Centre website. There are a number of art exhibitions too, including 'Wheels within Wheels' in the Loft Gallery in St Margaret's Hope until the 22nd and ‘7 Waves’, the Magnus 900 art installation at the St Magnus Church in Birsay.
That’s just a taste of events in Orkney during August. There’s always lots more happening around the islands – keep up to date with the Visit Orkney events page, pick up a copy of local newspaper ‘The Orcadian’ every Thursday or tune into BBC Radio Orkney every weekday morning from 0730 on 93.7FM or on Facebook.
Explore uncovered Orkney
Every month we concentrate on a different attraction in Orkney to highlight some of the more 'off the beaten track' locations. For August we head north to Stromness and the town's fascinating museum.
Stromness is a town well worth exploring. It has beautiful buildings, a stunning stone street and small piers and slipways stretching out into the sea. It's a historical place too, with a rich maritime heritage and links to Canada, the Arctic and much more. Where better to discover all these stories than the excellent Stromness Museum?
It was originally founded in 1837 and has occupied its current building for more than 150 years. Now its exhibitions and collections stretch out over a number of floors and rooms, with more to discover around every corner. There is literally thousands of years of Orcadian history to see in the Museum.
Because of the town's relationship with the sea, a lot of the collection looks at the maritime history of Stromness. The Museum tells tales of Orcadians who have explored the world and features a number of artefacts taken back to the islands over generations. There is also a lot of natural history to see, with nature and wildlife exhibits.
Perhaps the most important part of the Stromness Museum is its extensive collection of items from Canada. The town provided thousands of employees for the Hudson's Bay Company during the 18th and 19th centuries and this fascinating story is well told in the Museum. You can see items from former employees, and artefacts from the Arctic, including personal belongings from explorer Dr John Rae. Franklin's recently discovered Arctic medal is also on show, along with other items from the 'Norwast'.
Historical items found closer to home also take centre stage. The Museum has a large Ness of Brodgar collection, and there are other archaeological examples from across the islands too.
Meanwhile, the current summer exhibition focuses on ‘Per Mare Stromness 200: 200 years as a Burgh of Barony’ – a look at the development of the town over the last two centuries. The Museum is a special attraction and one that is certainly worth a visit, whether you're staying in Stromness or not.
Want to find out more about Orkney? Take a look at the following articles and features for extra island inspiration.
The Scapa Flow Visitor Centre & Museum is set to undergo a major refurbishment, read about the plans for the future of this popular attraction.
Orkney's budding culinary experts are being encouraged to sign up for the next Orkney Amateur Master Chef competition - find out more via the Orkney Food and Drink website.
Orkney-based jewellery designer Sheila Fleet has become one of only two jewellers to be named as an authorised maker and retailer of Scottish Gold - visit the Orkney Crafts Association blog for more.
One of Orkney's newest food and drink producers is enjoying a busy summer - find out more about the Deerness Distillery and its delicious gin and vodka.
Read the August newsletter from Orkney.com for more features, photos and articles all focused on life here in the islands.
You can also sign up to our Orkney mailing list to keep up to date with the latest news and get the chance to win a special prize - this month you could win a selection of biscuits, handmade right here in Orkney.
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