Welcome to Orkney in November!

We've been experiencing the very best of autumn across the islands over the last few weeks - cool and crisp mornings, stormy nights and beautiful, late-afternoon sunlight. Whisper it, but we love this time of year!

There is also so much happening in Orkney during November. Keep reading for a look at our monthly events as well as another hidden attraction feature.


What's on in November

The coming weeks are packed full of events and activities. A number of new festivals are springing up, giving visitors the opportunity to find out more about the history and heritage of Orkney, away from the busier summer months.

Orkney's inaugural 'Film Fortnight' is running at the moment, with a variety of film screenings being held across the islands between the 2nd and 18th of November. Thirteen different areas are involved in total, with more than ninety scheduled events, including talks and workshops, planned - find out more via the Film Fortnight website.

Celebrate the silver screen with Orkney's Film Fortnight


The Phoenix Cinema will also be hosting its regular schedule of blockbusters, including ‘Blade Runner 2049' and ‘Kingsman – The Golden Circle’ – view the full schedule on the official website. You can also catch a special showing of 1930s classic ‘The Spy in Black’, which was shot on location in the islands. See it on the big screen at 7.30pm on Friday 10th November.

One of the most unique events of the year will be held in Papa Westray this month. The ØY Festival is a celebration of the arts and it returns between the 17th and 19th of November with a packed programme of exhibitions, performances, walks, talks and music. Find out more from the ØY Festival Facebook page.

The beautiful Papa Westray scenery will take centre stage at the ØY Festival this month


The Orkney Book Festival will be held between the 9th and 12th of November. Visitors can join in with workshops, talks and readings from local and visiting writers. Find out more from the website of organisers, the George Mackay Brown Fellowship.

There are a number of interesting talks to take in this November. The Scottish Ornithologists Club will be hosting a talk by RSPB Scotland on ‘Curlews in crisis’ at the St Magnus Centre in Kirkwall on Thursday 9th November at 7.30pm – entry is by donation. Then, on Friday 17th November at 7.30pm, the Orkney Field Club hosts ‘A Garden and Beyond’ with Alasdair Forsyth. That’s in the St Magnus Centre too and admission for non-members is £2.

Throughout 2017 there have been events held to commemorate St Magnus, who was martyred 900 years ago. This month you can join archaeologists from the UHI Archaeology Institute for a trip to the island of Egilsay, where Magnus met his fate. Find out more about this fascinating story on the 14th of November between 10am and 3pm.

See the St Magnus Kirk in Egilsay in November


If you want to stay warm and entertained indoors, then perhaps a musical performance is just the tonic. Fiddler Graham MacKenzie has two gigs planned for Orkney this month. See him in The Ferry Inn in Stromness on Friday 10th November at 9pm, then at the Burray Hall on the 11th at 7.30pm. You can also catch local duo Brian Cromarty and Jenny Keldie in the Sound Archive in Kirkwall on the 11th from 10pm – tickets are £8 and can be bought from Grooves or online.

Staying inside and the Orkney Museum will host ‘For the Journey and Return’, an exhibition from Beatrice Searle, who was involved in the Orkney Boat project earlier this year. It's open between the 4th and 25th of November at the Museum.

Follow in the footsteps of Beatrice Searle this month


The Pier Arts Centre in Stromness has its annual Christmas Open exhibition coming up soon - works from local and visiting artists will go on display from the 18th of November. Meanwhile ‘Tales on the Tide’, an exhibition from Orkney artists Sheena Graham George and Angelica Kroeger, will be open at the Waterfront Gallery in Stromness until the 11th of November.

You can still take advantage of a number of tours of some of Orkney's most popular sites this month. Visit the Upper Levels of St Magnus Cathedral every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am and 2pm. Admission is £8 – phone 01856 874 894 to book. There are guided walks at the Standing Stones of Stenness at 10am on Wednesdays, and at the Ring of Brodgar on Thursdays at 1pm. Both walks are free – phone 01856 841 732 for more information.

Enjoy an autumn walk at the Standing Stones of Stenness


That’s just a taste of events in Orkney during November. 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

We're highlighting an 'off the beaten track' location in Orkney every month, showcasing some of our hidden secrets. For November the focus is on a special cliff-top site.

Stories of shipwrecks have been told in Orkney for hundreds of years. The low-lying nature of the islands and the treacherous seas surrounding them have always been a hazard to mariners. One such shipwreck, which resulted in a large loss of life, wasn't simply the result of bad weather or poor planning though.

The Covenanters Memorial in Deerness


Those that perished were Covenanters - prisoners from the Battle of Bothwell Brig in Scotland. They were being taken by sea to North America where they would become slaves as punishment. Captain Patterson, in command of the ship 'Crown of London', ordered that the prisoners should be locked below decks during the voyage.

The plaque dedicated to those that died


A storm developed as they were heading around Orkney and the ship sought shelter off Deerness on the 10th of December, 1679. But the anchor chain broke during the wild weather and she was driven onto the rocks. The Captain and crew escaped, but those trapped in the hold lost their lives.

The Orcadian public funded the building of a memorial in 1888 to commemorate those that were killed. It sits at the end of a grassy path, with views north to the islands of Shapinsay and Stronsay, and east towards the North Sea. It's part of a beautiful walk, which can include the Mull Head Nature Reserve and the Brough of Deerness if you're feeling fit, or you can just take time at the memorial for quiet reflection.

The memorial sits on a beautiful stretch of coastline


A visit to the Covenanters Memorial is a chance to see stunning coastal scenery, but also the opportunity to explore a quiet part of the Orkney mainland. As is almost always the case in Orkney, you'll experience another story from the past too.

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.

Restoration work at Orkney's Italian Chapel has been carried out over recent weeks - watch our video and read our blog on the project.

Local jewellery pioneer Ola Gorie marked her 80th birthday last month - we've been speaking to her about her work and the impact she's had on Orkney's creative industries.

Orkney's beaches are brilliant places to be during the autumn and winter. Join the Orkney Beachcomber, Martin Gray, as he scours the sand and seaweed at the Bay of Skaill looking for anything that catches his eye!

We've been taking a look at the wildlife attractions across the islands at this time of year - read our blog for more information on what you can see and where.

Read the November newsletter from our partners at Orkney.com for more on life in the islands this month.


And finally...

We hope you found this November 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 silver necklet from Sheila Fleet.