The 33rd Orkney Folk Festival kicks off today, Thursday 21st May, signalling the start of four days of concerts, ceilidhs, clubs, sessions, workshops, talks and more throughout the county.
Ticket sales have already surpassed the highest totals for any previous year – held jointly by the 30th anniversary weekend, in 2012, and 2014 – with well over 6,000 sold. Box office revenue figures have also been smashed, with this weekend’s advance sales a full ten per cent higher than the previous record. The festival board anticipate that, after the event, that figure will rise to an increase of around 12 to 13 per cent in all.
Of the 32 events on offer, between tonight and Sunday, 20 have already sold out – again, the highest number of advance sell outs ever, in the event’s 33 year history.
The festival board – headed up by artistic director, Bob Gibbon, and chairperson, Elaine Grieve – attribute these sales to a combination of the visiting line-up of artists, nationwide coverage on BBC Radio2’s The Folk Show in May 2014 – whose production team, and presenter, Mark Radcliffe, visited last year’s event – and an ever-growing profile surrounding the event.
In all, some 55 acts will grace one of the festivals many stages over the coming weekend.
Tonight’s first handful of gigs will be taking place in Stromness, Deerness, Sandwick, Orphir and Westray. Over the next four days, two thirds of all events will take place in the festival’s home town of Stromness, with others rotating amongst Orkney’s other parishes and outer islands. On Friday, the festival will visit Birsay, St Andrews and Sanday, followed by Kirkwall, Harray and Holm on Saturday, and Quoyloo, at the Orkney Brewery, on Sunday afternoon.
In partnership with Orkney Food & Drink, the festival will also offer a showcase of Orkney’s famed food and drink produce on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Thanks to extra funding support, as part of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015, the Orkney Aisles showcase will open up Orkney’s larder to festival goers, for both takeaway and take-home food – alongside live music – offering the best of what the county has to offer on one plate.