Special folk festival event to kick off Jutland commemorations

May 18th 2016

The final preparations for the 2016 Orkney Folk Festival are underway, with just a week until the opening performances.

The packed programme has once again been attracting folk music fans with ticket sales on course to break the record set last year.

Highlights this year include Grammy-nominated Liz Carroll, Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis and fiddling sensations Session A9. Artists from the United States, Canada, Finland and Ireland will take to the stage with local folk stars and musicians from Scotland, Shetland and the Hebrides during the four-day event between 26th and 29th May.

The 34th Orkney Folk Festival will be held between the 26th and 29th of May - image by Sean Purser
The 34th Orkney Folk Festival will be held between the 26th and 29th of May - image by Sean Purser

But this year a very special performance will also be held, the first of its kind in Orkney. Over 200 performers from Orkney and Shetland will celebrate the maritime heritage of the islands at the Northern Isles Festival Tattoo on Saturday 28th.

Kirkwall's Pickaquoy Centre will host the extravaganza which, like its inspiration the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo, will feature large-scale, choreographed routines of pipers, drummers, fiddlers, brass musicians, dancers, singers and much more.

The Northern Isles Festival Tattoo is inspired by the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo
The Northern Isles Festival Tattoo is inspired by the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo

The event will take place before Orkney hosts the UK's commemoration of the Battle of Jutland the following week. Festival Director Bob Gibbon said: 'We wanted to do something to tie in with the Jutland commemorations, and I was conscious that the eyes of the world would be on Orkney, so it seemed fitting to try to put on a large show that encapsulates Orkney and Shetland talent.'

Most of the floor area of the Pickaquoy Centre hall will become a performance space on the night with the aim of putting on one flowing production, woven together with a single narrative.

Performers from Shetland on the night will include Hjaltibonhoga - a 40-strong county fiddle group, duo Maggie Adamson and Brian Nicholson and members of a Jarl Squad.

Orkney will be represented by the legendary Ivan Drever, the Kirkwall City and Stromness RBL Pipe Bands and local dance and music groups.

The Stromness RBL Pipe Band will be performing at the event - image by Leila Angus
The Stromness RBL Pipe Band will be performing at the event - image by Leila Angus

'Everything is coming together really well and the rehearsals and planning are very much underway for what's set to be an unprecedented spectacle in Orkney', said Bob Gibbon. 'The level of detail going into putting it all together is incredible and I'm sure it will be an unforgettable evening.'

There is still time to get your tickets for The Northern Isles Festival Tattoo. Find out more about the event and the rest of the programme via the Orkney Folk Festival website.