The St Magnus International Festival is the centrepiece of the Orcadian summer. Held between the 16th and 24th of June this year, its eclectic programme is sure to provide plenty of inspiration and entertainment during the long, light Orkney midsummer nights.

2017 is the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Magnus and much of the Festival’s focus this year will be on Orkney’s links with Norway and Scandinavia. Performances by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, The Trondheim Soloists and the Bergen Cathedral Choir will all be featured.

Festival Director Alasdair Nicolson with the 2017 programme in St Magnus Cathedral


The gala opening concert in St Magnus Cathedral will see the world premiere of ‘I, Pilgrim’, with music by composer and Festival Director, Alasdair Nicolson, and words by one of Norway’s most famous writers, John Fosse.

A specially commissioned work, ‘Magnus’, has also been created by Kirkwall composer Gemma McGregor and Orkney writer Ron Ferguson. The dramatic work will feature local voices and musicians and will tell the story of Magnus, leading up to his murder and martyrdom.

The Norwegian Radio Orchestra will be performing at the 2017 St Magnus International Festival


The performance will also include a large musical parade through the streets of Kirkwall, which is sure to be a colourful and entertaining spectacle.

Elsewhere there will be ten premieres by composers, including Stuart MacRae and Philip Cashian, choral and vocal music, including the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and chamber music from Gildas and Edinburgh Quartets. The Scots Makar, Jackie Kay, will also be part of proceedings.

The community performances make up a large partof the Festival, bringing together some of Orkney’s finest talent, from primary school pupils right up to well-known faces and voices. A number of events will be held outwith Kirkwall, including concerts in Stromness, Birsay, Hoy, Stronsay and Rousay.

The Trondheim Soloists will help celebrate Orkney's links with Norway this year


This year the Festival has also launched a new partnership with Classic FM, so audiences around the world will be able to get a taste of the action both on air and online. BBC Radio 3 will also be recording a number of concerts for future broadcast once again.

Each night of the Festival will be rounded off with the popular Festival Club, a lively get together with tunes, refreshments and plenty of laughter. For the first time, the Club will be held in Kirkwall’s newest venue, The Sound Archive. Local talent, including traditional group Gnoss and duo Saltfishforty, will be joined by other musicians from across the UK.

Local talent, including traditional group Gnoss, will take centre stag at the Festival Club


The St Magnus International Festival is one of those events that has too much happening to mention. It’s also one of those events that is best experienced in the islands, for yourself. Come and join us in the heart of midsummer in 2017!

Find out more about the Festival and view the full programme at the official website.


The Digital Media Orkney project is being part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014–2020 Programme.