Venues range in size and in age. Orkney is well-equipped with modern facilities for presentations. The Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall features a modern cinema with full audiovisual facilities for talks and a brand-new digital projection system.
The King Street Halls, upstairs and downstairs, also provide excellent facilities, and run by Kirkwall East Church. The Kirkwall Town Hall on Broad Street, part of Kirkwall and St Ola Community Centre, has a range of rooms, from the hall itself to the comfortable Supper Room, with a view across to St Magnus Cathedral. The Cathedral itself is the venue for the Sunday evening concert with the Mayfield Singers.
Just across Palace Road from the Cathedral are the Peedie Kirk Hall, with the daily lunches of local fare, and the Earl’s Palace, the venue for the Medieval Construction Show being taken to Orkney by Historic Scotland.
Alongside the Cathedral on Broad Street is The Reel, the venue developed by the Wrigley Sisters as a music centre and the ideal venue for the Festival Club.
The Eunson Room of the Highland Park Distillery is a perfect setting for the mini-whisky school on the morning of Wednesday 11 September, and that afternoon is the one day in the year when the Scapa Distillery opens, for a special bus tour of it and Highland Park, organised by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.
At the weekend the Festival has several sessions in Stromness, in each case by the sea, in the Pier Arts Centre that houses a nationally-renowned collection of modern paintings and in the Nautical School which will be the venue for a session on the mathematics of knots.
Skaill House, built by Bishop George Graham in the early 17th century will be the setting for a late Sunday afternoon talk on the scholars and philosophers of the time of Flodden, 500 years ago, and St Magnus Church in Birsay, which stands on the site of a much older Norse building, will be the place to visit for an Orkney Night on the opening evening of the Festival.
Island venues include the Gable End Theatre in Lyness, a small theatre conversion of the former North Walls schools building. It has a proscenium stage and a 75-seat raked auditorium, and attracts a variety events and musicians through the year. At the north of island, the Hoy Kirk is another attractive conversion. A Friday evening boat from Stromness makes it possible to go for the evening and get back on Stromness pier by 10.30, but both ends of the island are worth a longer stay, with the south end including much wartime history and the north end being fine walking territory to explore, with walks to the Old Man of Hoy and the beach at Rackwick and to the ancient woodland of Berriedale.
Flotta also has a rich heritage from wartime, and a Sunday afternoon outing will provide an opportunity to see some of the island as well as to hear about one of its most famous sons, Sutherland Simpson, rounded off by an island tea in the Community Centre.
Eday Heritage Centre will be the venue for talks on astronomy, and North Ronaldsay Community Centre will host an evening on marine communication, recalling the pioneer days of the wireless telegraph link between North Ronaldsay and Sanday, the first of its kind in Britain.