PROGRAMME

2023

Welcome to the 33rd Festival!

And join us in orbit around the Sun! We’ve an incredible new centrepiece this year, in the heart of Orkney, St Magnus Cathedral. You can enjoy the stillness amongst the warm red sandstone, and a concert blending ethereal electronic music with voices and instruments.

Elsewhere there are talks on the Northern Lights and the science of the Sun, and stories of new frontiers in photonics and robotics and many other subjects. You can walk with archaeologists at Brodgar or Stenness or hear of a walk to the South Pole. There’s music, with a legendary western group and stories of science in the Old West, and this year art and dance and history meet mathematics. There’s ancient grains and a lost flock, ultra-running and violin making, and new horizons in energy and transport.

There’s much information here about the various events, and tickets are now on sale. You can also read about some of the topics and speakers in our online magazine Frontiers.

7-13
SEPTEMBER
2023

TALKS

Microalgae turning waste into food or pharmaceuticals. Tools of light. An ancient Greek computer with mechanical gears. Tracking Ice Age rock movements. Unearthing a mammoth graveyard. A lost flock, a hydrogen ship – and the energy of the Sun!

MUSIC

The Western music legends Riders in the Sky. The astronomy-inspired works of the Scottish composer Eddie McGuire. A Cathedral concert of ethereal electronic music blended with voices, instruments and organ. The violin virtuoso Charlotte Rowan in concert.

ART & FILM

Art and mathematical links at the Pier Arts Centre, through natural forms and then in interwoven 18th and 19th century lives. Modern music inspired by astronomy, blended into film. And a new film probing Orkney’s Ice Age glacier paths.

FAMILY EVENTS

It looks like being the biggest Family Day yet, with Dynamic Earth’s planetarium, the Scottish Seabird Centre’s marine mammal activities and Glasgow Science Centre’s energy activities too – plus computer coding, astronomy, lasers, and much more more!

WORKSHOPS

See robots in action. Learn how to access AI on your PC. See the skills of violin making and hear the resulting sound from a virtuoso. Look at the night sky seen by Maeshowe’s builders. Learn about wild life photography, Slovenian archaeology, and the art of wind and wave!

WALK & OUTDOORS

Walk over an ancient landscape, and find out about plants and animals past and present. Walk over the Ness of Brodgar site with the director, following this year’s recently completed excavations. See the transformation at Arcadia Park.

LUNCHES & EVENINGS

Lunches of Orkney fare, with a One O’Clock Toast to a notable Orcadian. Later evenings in the Orkney Club, with talks on subjects from a landscape of limestone to memories of a hurricane, talks and discussions after music concerts, and live music too from time to time.

SPECIAL EVENTS

A science show with a wizard from Kansas and four cowboys, and the story of Tombstone, Arizona with its microscopical scientific society. A Tattie Tasting. A Friday evening in Hoy, A Vintage Rally, a Pipe Band parade, and a Sunday morning Cathedral service.

ONLINE EVENTS

Friday night is astronomy night for Eric Walker and guests: he’s hoping you’ll be able to join him online, wherever you are. We’ll also be livestreaming a number of in-person events direct from halls, and filming others, and we’ll be announcing details nearer the time.

EXHIBITIONS

Plans are taking shape for several exhibitions during the Festival, and fuller details will be coming soon. We’ll have scenes of Orkney land and sea transformed by sunlight, astronomy images, origami and crochet models, and art meeting mathematics in natural forms.

THE SUN

It’s a spectacular sight, created from time-lapse photography from space of the surface of the actual sun with its seething fires, projected onto a 6-metre-diameter sphere suspended from the Cathedral’s crossing with the dramatic changes on the solar surface.

Ticket information and more

Tickets are now on sale, and can be accessed direct from individual events or from the links on the Tickets page or elsewhere.

Regular updates are continuing in our social media – on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Some of the events and speakers also appear in features in our online magazine, Frontiers.

If you’ve visited before and want to recall some highlights, or if you’re coming fresh and want to find out more about the Festival atmosphere, then there’s an opportunity to look back at events from 2020, 2021 and 2022 which you can access on our YouTube channel. You can also find more about our background and highlights of past festivals, and see more of Orkney itself.

And we have a new and unusual competition! It’s to travel on a celestial odyssey, travelling outwards from the Sun to the planets of the Solar System, one by one. You start with the Sun in St Magnus Cathedral, and then look for Mercury, Venus and so on. Each planet is hosted by a well-known local business, with each location having clues to the next one.

There are details here too of our schools programme, with primary and secondary sections.

Festival events 2023

ZOOMING OUT 2023

September 13 → 9:00 pm10:30 pm

REVIVING THE LOST

September 13 → 7:30 pm8:30 pm

KEEPING GOING – IN LIFE AND SPORT

September 13 → 7:30 pm8:30 pm

CONCERT: SUNDOWN

September 13 → 7:30 pm8:45 pm

SOLO TO THE SOUTH POLE

September 13 → 5:15 pm6:15 pm

STROMNESS IN THE DAYS OF SAIL

September 13 → 2:00 pm3:00 pm

BUFFET LUNCH OF ORKNEY FARE

September 13 → 12:30 pm2:00 pm