Welcome to Orkney in February

Hopefully you'll all have navigated the January blues and are refreshed for the rest of the year! We'll try and give you all the inspiration you need to book a visit to Orkney to give you something to look forward to!

Keep reading for a look at what's happening across the islands this month, and we feature another 'off the beaten track' attraction too.

What's on in February

As much as we love the great outdoors, there's no escaping the fact that February can sometimes be a bit wild, wet and windy in the islands! That's why there are always plenty of fantastic indoor events and activities to take advantage of.

For drama lovers there is a packed programme. The Orkney Theatre has a series of performances this month, including Kirkwall Amateur Operatic Society's version of 'The Beggars Opera'. It's on between the 6th and 10th of February and tickets are available from the Orkney Soap Shop on Albert Street in Kirkwall.

The Orkney Theatre will be packed for a variety of performances throughout the month

The following week will see a visit from Scottish Opera and its Opera Highlights team. They'll take to the stage in the Orkney Theatre on the 17th for a show featuring favourites from ‘Barber of Seville’, ‘Cosi fan tutte’ and ‘Candide’. Find out more and get your tickets from the Scottish Opera website.

Some of the finest thespian talent in the islands will then tread the boards at the end of the month in the annual Orkney Drama Festival. With thirteen plays across four days, there will be plenty of entertainment! It's all held between the 27th of February and the 2nd of March - get ticket information from the Orkney District – Scottish Community Drama Association Facebook page.

Scotland's gin industry has been booming in recent years with artisan makers popping up across the country. Here in Orkney we can boast three of the finest producers to be found anywhere, and they'll all be part of the first ever Orkney Gin Festival this month. The Old Library in Kirkwall will host the event which runs on the 16th and 17th of February. Meet the makers from the Deerness Distillery, Orkney Distilling and the Orkney Gin Company, who will be joined by some visiting producers too. There is also the Gin Festival Dinner and Dance on the 17th – find out more about all the events on The Old Library Facebook page.

The Old Library venue in Kirkwall will host the Orkney Gin Festival in February

Some of Orkney's finest artistic talent will be exhibiting their work in the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness this month. The MOTI collective is a group of recent graduates all with a connection to the islands who work together to promote their work and inspire each other. Their latest exhibition, 'Drawing Routes' focuses on the art and act of drawing and will open at the Pier Arts Centre on the 10th of February, featuring the work of twelve artists.

Visit the Pier Arts Centre for a special exhibition this month - image by Alistair Peebles

In Kirkwall, the Orkney Museum has a new exhibition opening on the 3rd of the month. ‘Recent Acquisitions’ highlights some of the items donated to the museum and runs until the 2nd of April.

If you're getting excited for the Oscars then the Pickaquoy Cinema has some of the contenders in its February programme, including ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ and ‘The Post’. There are showings for all the family too, including ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ and ‘Coco’. You can view the full schedule on the official website.

In Stromness, the West Side Cinema has ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ on the 10th and ‘In Between’ on the 24th. Find out more via Facebook.

Finally, whatever the weather, we'd always recommend taking advantage of a free guided walk at the Standing Stones of Stenness, every Wednesday at 10am, and at the Ring of Brodgar every Thursday at 1pm. Just remember - there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing, so prepare accordingly!

Take a winter walk at the Ring of Brodgar in February! Image by Premysl Fojtu

That’s just a taste of events in Orkney during February. 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 take a look at an attraction in Orkney that doesn't always feature on the to-do lists of visitors to the islands. For February we're focusing one of the finest historical sites to be found, well, anywhere!

Orkney is a place with literally hundreds of fascinating archaeological sites to visit - from the famous, like Skara Brae, to the 'off the beaten track' places, like some of Rousay's cairns and brochs. February's 'uncovered Orkney' location probably sits somewhere in the middle of the list, but deserves to be much higher!

The Broch of Gurness in Orkney

The Broch of Gurness is found on the north-west coast of the Orkney mainland, overlooking the islands of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre. It's part of a wider area that is littered with the remains of brochs and other ancient structures, highlighting the importance of this corner of Orkney thousands of years ago.

Gurness is a maze of stones, buildings and ditches, all surrounding an Iron Age broch. It's one of the best-preserved sites of its kind in the country and offers visitors the chance to get as close as they want to the ancient structures. It was first excavated in the early 20th century and archaeologists quickly discovered evidence of a sophisticated community, with their own small homes, yards and sheds.

The Broch is surrounded by the remains of old structures and buildings

Experts believe the settlement at Gurness was first inhabited around 500BC and remained in use throughout the years until the Vikings arrived. There are deep defensive ditches around the main broch building, and a small visitor centre, open in the summer, offers more interpretation of some of the history and finds from the site.

It's a stunning location, with sea views towards the island of Eynhallow and out into the Atlantic Ocean beyond. There aren't many places like this, with access throughout the site all year round (although there is a small charge during the summer months).

The Broch of Gurness is one of the most fascinating places to explore in Orkney

Find out more about the Broch of Gurness from the Historic Environment Scotland website, and use our ‘Uncovered Orkney’ map for more hints and tips on some of our favourite hidden attractions across the islands.

Discover more...

Want to find out more about Orkney? Take a look at the following articles and features for extra island inspiration.

Stronsay is one of Orkney's north isles and is a brilliant place to visit during your time here. We've picked five reasons why an island hopping trip to Stronsay should be on your Orkney itinerary - watch our video to find out more!

Author Richard Clubley completed his full-time move to Orkney at the end of 2017 and has been keeping us up-to-date on his island experiences so far. Read his latest blog via the Orkney.com website.

Orkney's mobile library service has been connecting communities since the 1960s. We spent a day in Rousay and Egilsay with the service recently - find out more with our new blog.

Explore the coastline of Orkney's east mainland with us - take a look at our walking guide to the area.

Read the February newsletter from our friends at Orkney.com, featuring plenty of features and photos all focused on life in Orkney.

And finally...

We hope you found this February update from Orkney useful. If you’ve been inspired to find out more about life in Orkney, explore our site and visit Orkney.com.

You can also sign up to our Orkney mailing list to keep up to date with the latest news from the islands.

The Digital Orkney project has been part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014-2020 Programme.