Foraging Fortnight 2021

Foraging Fortnight is coming back, in the week following the Festival, and we’re providing a preview of the kind of events that you can enjoy in its programme. One example is a talk about the wealth of goodness in those wild plants we often disparage as weeds, and we will hear about their role in nutrition. There will be a workshop on identifying common wild plants for foraging. Another workshop will highlight the role of wild plants in the making of compost and the transformation of kitchen and garden waste into food for the soil. And in several of our lunchtime sessions we’ll hear about appetising snacks you can make from foraged food.

Foraging Fortnight 2020

Those weeks in lockdown added to feeling that foraging is an idea whose time has come. For fresh air, for exercise, for general wellbeing, for nutrition, and for a clean fresh flavour, wild food that you gather yourself has so much to enjoy. We join forces with four mainland Scottish regions to present a varied mix of activities, including island outings, and walks along sections of the St Magnus Way, with chefs to advise us as well.

Online Exhibitions 2020

Orkney Camera Club respond each year to the Festival theme, and this year had an even bigger challenge – to do so online; and they have responded in splendid style. Their exhibition Orkney’s Coastal Waters is a delight, as you can see by going to it on the Artsteps site. Katy Firth in association with Stromness Museum has put together an exhibition of 360 degree photospheres of a visit to the island. The exhibition ‘Ian Scott – a retrospective’ can be seen online at the Artsteps site.

Highlights from Foraging Fortnight in 2019

We had a great time with the foraging events in the 2019 Festival. They came about through the LEADER-funded initiative covering five Scottish regions, and they added a whole new dimension to the programme, and to the weekends before and after. There was more foraged food to enjoy at the Neolithic dinner where chef Sam Britten and his team produced an amazing meal. There is wonderfully atmospheric account of it in the Orkney News by Bernie Bell.


“From Orkney Nature to Murdoch Mackenzie’s beautifully detailed charts of Orkney waters, from Scapa Flow’s history and marine life to sea forms and soundworks … Orkney Camera Club mark the anniversary with an exhibition on the theme of Orkney Nature. It will be in three Kirkwall venues – Orkney Library and the windows of WHB Sutherland and We Frame It – and will also include photographs from Orkney College students and Kirkwall Grammar School pupils.

Afternoon tea at Skaill House

The 17th-century mansion close by Skara Brae is the venue for the late Sunday afternoon of the Festival. Built in the 1620s by Bishop George Graham, Skaill House has been cared for and enhanced by its owners over the centuries. Skaill House is the perfect setting for stories for stories of insights from history. We were able to commemorate there the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, who formulated ideas about the way in which mechanical computing machines could be able to work.

The daily lunches at the Peedie Kirk

Among the highlights of the Festival are the lunches in the Peedie Kirk Hall. It’s an opportunity to enjoy local food, look at works by local artists, and enjoy a chat with friends. Each day at 1 pm there is the One O’Clock Toast. This is a toast to a well-known person from Orkney, from recent times or the more distant past, given by someone who knows them well. There are insights from family members, descendants, and people with a deep knowledge of the life and times of someone who has made an impact on Orkney and beyond.


It’s 50 years since the death of Robert Rendall, Orkney shore naturalist and poet. Two exhibitions in the Orkney Library mark the occasion, with archive letters and photos, and new images of the Orkney shore. The new pictures come from Orkney Camera Club, looking at aspects of Orkney’s shoreline. Upstairs in the archive department is a display of documents and pictures from the life of a much-loved and multi-talented Orcadian.

The Reel

The Reel on Broad Street is the venue for the Festival Club and it is really an atmospheric setting at any time of day. In fact, it is probably the nearest that Orkney gets to the atmosphere of a Viennese coffeehouse. There are interesting items around, with musical instruments and music books and CDs. There is the cosy atmosphere with traditional music in the background, so that you can go there and chat in a group or find a corner and catch up with your emails.

Judith Glue

Judith Glue’s Real Food Cafe in Broad Street, situated across from the Cathedral, is open in the evening as well as through the day throughout the Festival and provides a good option for somewhere to eat when you’ve just enjoyed a talk and want to take the opportunity of a meal before going to the next one.

Northern Light with Orkney Camera Club

One of the most popular and long-running exhibitions to take place annually in the Science Festival is the photographic exhibition of the Orkney Camera Club. For a number of years now the club has provided images of Orkney to reflect a theme from the Festival. These have included life on Orkney’s outer isles, wildlife, history and transport.

Ernest W. Marwick: writer and scholar

Items on display will include some of the photographs in the Ernest Marwick Collection, and you can also hear some of the sound recordings that he made. The exhibition will also offer a glimpse into his personal diaries. Ernest Marwick left school at just 10 years old after being diagnosed with scoliosis, but he did not let this hinder his education. Instead, he put the period of his illness to good use to read as much as he could.

Beatrice Works

Imagine you are gazing at a 300 foot high wind turbine being raised from its horizontal position at Nigg Bay, Rosshire, up into the sky, to become a mammoth perpendicular structure, with the aid of giant robotic cranes on either side, men in steel helmets beetling around like ants overseeing the whole operation and keeping it safe from disaster.

Food at the Festival

For the Science Festival, Liz coordinates a wide range of food events. It starts off with the Opening Buffet, which showcases the products of many Orkney food companies, large and small. For the Friday evening trip to Hoy, she plans food for the Hoy Kirk and enlists helpers. For the Family Day on the Saturday of the Festival, she is at the King Street Halls with her team to provide porridge and pancakes, and then on Sunday afternoon there is Skaill House. She provides advice and assistance at various other parts of the programme.