Welcome to Orkney in June!

The summer months are finally here and the islands are starting to become a real hive of activity.

Keep reading for a round-up of just some of the events planned over the coming weeks. We'll also be taking a look at another hidden attraction, perfect for exploring during your holiday to Orkney.


What's on in June

There is so much to see and do in Orkney in June, it can be hard to know where to start!

The main focus however is on the St Magnus International Festival. This iconic event will be held between the 16th and 21st of June, right in the heart of the Orcadian midsummer. Expect concerts, performances and recitals, featuring visiting acts from around the world with some local input too. This year's festival has a Norse theme and celebrates the story of St Magnus, with plenty of guests from Scandinavia present too. Take a look at the official website for programme information.

The first Orkney Garden Festival will be held this June


The first Orkney Garden Festival gets underway on the 17th of June and runs until the 25th. There are some spectacular gardens across the islands and twenty-eight will be open for people to see during the festival. There are also plans for plant sales, live music and afternoon teas. Come along and be inspired by some of our talented and dedicated green-fingered residents. Profits from the festival will be donated to charity and you can buy tickets from Scapa Travel in Kirkwall. Find out more from our special blog.

Archaeology in action

The first main archaeological excavation of the season starts in June too. Workers will be on site at the Cairns in South Ronaldsay from the 12th of June. Visitors are more than welcome at the Iron Age settlement between 10am and 4pm until the 7th of July. There's also an open day on the 30th. Follow the project on Facebook for regular updates.

Although the Ness of Brodgar excavation only begins again on the 3rd of July, you can hear all about the project at a special talk on the 15th of June. Dig Director Nick Card will be talking about ‘Structure 10: A Neolithic Cathedral’ at the Orkney Theatre from 7pm.

Hear about the Ness of Brodgar excavation at a special talk this month - image by Jim Richardson


Staying with archaeology, you can learn all about the Norse farm mound at Skaill in the island of Rousay on the 16th of June at an open afternoon. Excavation work will continue there during July. There is also a special guided walk through Hoy's valleys on the following day, the 17th. Join archaeologist Dan Lee who will lead the walk to the former home of Sir Peter Maxwell Davis in Rackwick. Meet at the Moaness Pier at 10am (ferry travel not included).

Comedy and music

Get ready for laughs later in the month. Comedian Jeremy Hardy will be performing at the Stromness Town Hall on the 9th of June. The radio and television veteran will be appearing in Orkney for the first time and doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start. Tickets are on sale now from Beyond Presents, Ticketmaster and from Stromness Books & Prints.

Comedian Jeremy Hardy will be performing in Orkney in June


If music is your thing then there are a number of concerts to enjoy in June. Catch Jenny Sturgeon and Jonny Hardie in the Burray Hall on Sunday 11th June at 7pm - tickets can be bought at the door or at Seaview Stores in Burray, The Trading Post in St Margaret’s Hope or The Reel in Kirkwall. Meanwhile The Reel in Kirkwall has more of its Orcadian Summer Concerts on Tuesday 13th and 27th, featuring a variety of local artists. Booking is recommended on 01856 871 000. Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

Out and about

Stronsay is the destination for the Orkney Field Club this month. Join them on the 18th to see the island's natural attractions, including birdlife, beaches, wildflowers and the spectacular coastline. The boat leaves Kirkwall at 0840 - email flawsjohn@gmail.com for more details.

One of the beautiful beaches in Stronsay - image by Iain Sarjeant


Get active in June and mark the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Magnus at the same time on Saturday 24th. The St Magnus Day of Dance will feature afternoon dance workshops at the St Magnus Centre between 2pm and 4pm. Then an evening dance will be held in the Birsay Hall from 7pm with buses leaving Palace Road in Kirkwall at 6pm. To book your seat on the bus phone 01856 873 534.

Take advantage of one of the Orkney's many guided tours during the summer. How about heading to Hoy and the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum? There you can tour the former naval base at Lyness with a two hour walk. They're held every Tuesday at 11am and spaces are limited, so book on 01856 791 300.

Tour the remains of the former naval base at Lyness in Orkney this summer - image by Mary Harris


Time to head indoors

If dark clouds form during your time here you might have to head indoors to keep yourself occupied. If you fancy some local folktales then head to the Stromness Hotel every Wednesday and Sunday at 8pm for 'Island Tales and Ales'. It costs £10 and booking is essential – contact Lynn on 01856 841 207 for more details.

The Pickaquoy Centre Cinema has a full schedule and there are also showings at the West Side Cinema in Stromness and the ‘Screen in the Square’ in St Margaret’s Hope too.

Art lovers can see 'Movement & Light' by Katy Dove until the 3rd of June and ‘Walking the Sound’ by Orkney ‘Artist in Residence’ Anne Bevan until the 10th at the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness. The Centre will also be part of a special exhibition held across three venues from the 17th. 'Conversations with Magic Stones' looks at the prehistoric stone tools of Orkney - catch it at the Pier Arts Centre as well as the Stromness Museum and the Orkney Museum. Elsewhere you can see the sails installation in St Magnus Cathedral during the summer and '7 Waves', the Magnus 900 art installation, in the St Magnus Church in Birsay too. The Loft Gallery in St Margaret’s Hope also has ‘Expressions of tranquillity, landscape and migration’ on display until the 4th of July.

The spectacular sails in St Magnus Cathedral


That’s just a taste of events in Orkney during June. 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 June it's off to a real hidden gem in the centre of Kirkwall.

The Orkney Wireless Museum is the closest thing to a tardis we have here in Orkney. From the outside it just looks like a small building without much space to display anything. But one step inside the door and your opinion will change pretty quickly!

The Orkney Wireless Museum in the centre of Kirkwall


The museum is packed with all kinds of exhibits collected over decades. It has old radios of all kinds, posters and memorabilia, wartime items and plenty of reading material for anyone looking to delve further into the past.

There are all kinds of exhibits in the museum


The museum originally opened in South Ronaldsay and was first used to display some of the communications technology that was used during the Second World War in Orkney. Over time the collection grew as local residents began donating items, including precious but out of fashion wireless sets and more modern radios.

Explore more than 100 years of communications technology in the museum


Eventually the current building in Kirkwall, aptly enough a former radio dealership, became available and the expanding range of exhibits was moved into the town. Head in to browse through hundreds of radios - from a 100 year old crystal set to novelty versions and transistor radios from today. You can also see a Spitfire radio and even one from a U-Boat too. It's not your normal 'don't touch' experience either - you can play an early version of computer game 'Pong' and turn on and tune in a 1950s valve radio too.

There are exhibits highlighting Orkney's wartime heritage too


The Orkney Wireless Museum really is one of Orkney's hidden gems, make sure you don't miss it. Find out how you can see it all via the Visit Orkney website.


Discover more...

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

A series of beautiful films have been made focusing on life in the Orkney island of Papa Westray - read our special blog to find out more and watch the films.

If you're visiting the Tomb of the Eagles this summer, you might be lucky and get the chance to meet a very special tour guide! Find out about Tate the Tour Dog and watch our video of him in action.

Fancy a taste of Orkney? The new spirits from the Deerness Distillery have been launched. Read about the new Sea Glass Gin and Into the Wild Vodka, both available now, via the Orkney Food and Drink website.

Author Richard Clubley is preparing for his move to a new life in Orkney - keep up to date with his progress in his latest blog on Orkney.com.

Have you ever wanted to see behind the scenes of one of Orkney's most iconic buildings? Come and take a tour of the upper levels of St Magnus Cathedral.

Read the June newsletter from Orkney.com for more features, photos and articles all focused on life here in the islands.


And finally...

We hope you found this June 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 beautiful ring from one of Orkney's talented jewellery makers.