Happy New Year, and welcome to Orkney in January!

We hope you all had a fun-filled festive period! Now with winter here our job is to inspire you to plan a visit to Orkney this year. We've got plenty of plans to get you interested over the coming months.

In the meantime, keep reading for a look at January's events as well as a look at another hidden attraction feature.


What's on in January

January in Orkney isn’t all about hibernation! There is still a packed programme of events and activities.

Our winter wildlife is at the centre of the January calendar. The Orkney Native Wildlife Project has events running throughout the month, including a drop-in consultation on Friday 5th with fun activities for all the family. It’s in the St Magnus Centre in Kirkwall between 1pm and 6pm, followed by a talk and Q & A later, between 7.30pm and 8.30pm. Other events will be held in Stromness, Hoy, Stronsay, Shapinsay and Papa Westray during January too.

The Ring of Brodgar at winter. Visit the nearby RSPB reserve this month - image by Mark Ferguson


Then on Sunday 7th clear the festive cobwebs with an RSPB Orkney winter wildlife walk. Take a wander around the Brodgar reserve and take in the views across Orkney's World Heritage Site. You'll get the chance to see some wintering wildfowl with local experts too. The walk is around 3km and boots or wellies are advised. Meet at the Ring of Brodgar car park at 2pm.

Visit the Loons hide in Birsay on the 13th for the chance to see hen-harriers, water rails and many other species too. RSPB staff will be on hand to help with spotting the birdlife. Join them between 10.30am and 12.30pm - and free hot chocolate will also be available! Finally, on the 20th, take part in a birdwatching drop in event at the Peedie Sea in Kirkwall. It's a great place to see birdlife right in the heart of the town. It's on between 10.30 and 12.30pm.

The Peedie Sea in Kirkwall is a birding hotspot


Of course, January can bring inclement weather, so if you'd like to stay inside and keep warm then maybe a trip to the cinema is the perfect thing for you. The Pickaquoy Centre has its usual range of showings throughout the month, with blockbusters, indie flicks and children's movies all scheduled. In Stromness, the West Side Cinema has a musical theme to its January programme - catch a classic every Saturday night in the Stromness Town Hall from 7.15pm.

You can also see ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ in the unique setting of the Kelp Store in Papa Westray later in the month. It gets underway at 7.30pm on January 19th.

The winter exhibition in the Orkney Museum on Broad Street in Kirkwall focuses on Finland's declaration of independence from Russia 100 years ago. 'Welcome to Finland' is on display until the 27th of January and admission is free.

Visit the Orkney Museum in Kirkwall this January


That’s just a taste of events in Orkney during January. 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 a special site that lies off the well-beaten path in Orkney. For January the focus is on a fantastic archaeological delight in our north isles.

The island of Sanday, as the name suggests, is famous for its beaches. Miles of white sand stretch along the sprawling coastline of this incredibly flat part of Orkney. But the island also has a wealth of archaeological treasures to keep any visitor interested.

Quoyness Chambered Cairn in Sanday - image by Adam Hough


One of our favourite sites is the Quoyness Chambered Cairn - it's one of the finest megalithic tombs to found anywhere across Orkney. It's similar to Maeshowe on the mainland and has an imposing and impressive presence on the island landscape.

Quoyness is found on a quiet part of the Sanday coast admist many other archaeological treasures. The cairn was built around five thousand years ago and was first excavated in the mid-1800s. Visitors have to negotiate the entrance passage, although only a third of the nine metres requires you to get on your hands and knees.

The imposing entrance to the Quoyness Cairn - image by Adam Hough


Once you're in, the passage opens out into a large chamber, around four metres long. The huge walls reach up for around four metres too, highlighting the skill and hard work needed to build the structure all those years ago. There are six side chambers built off the heart of the cairn - they contained bones of adults and children when the site was first opened up.

Inside the main chamber - image by Adam Hough


A visit to Quoyness is well worth it. There are no guides, visitor centres or audio tours, but that's what makes this site, and many others in Orkney, so special. You can actually touch and feel the history here, and you'll probably have the whole place to yourself too.

The view from Quoyness - image by Adam Hough


Find out more about visiting the cairn via the Historic Environment Scotland website and read more about the island of Sanday.

Explore uncovered Orkney with our interactive map, featuring all our previous locations.


Discover more...

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

If you want to experience Orkney during the winter then take one of the guided tours available over the coming months - find out what you can see and when with our special blog.

Take a look back at 2017's 'Magnus 900' events in Orkney, a year-long programme celebrating the life and legacy of Orkney's patron saint.

Read the January 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 January 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 and get the chance to win a special prize - this month you could win a fantastic holiday to Orkney courtesy of Loganair and The Shore in Kirkwall.