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First Artists Announced for Orkney Folk Festival 2024

Dec 18, 2023

Orkney Folk Festival* has announced the first wave of artists appearing at the 2024 event, taking place between 23 and 26 May 2024.  

Leading artists from Canada, the USA, Australia, Ireland, Norway, England and throughout Scotland will join home-grown Orcadian musicians at the festival in its 41st year. 

Contemporary Canadian folk/pop band The East Pointers will appear as part of their tenth anniversary celebrations, their first appearance at a Scottish festival in recent years.   They’ll be joined by no less than four other Canadian acts: Quebecois trio Genticorum, and three diverse acts from Newfoundland, Rum Ragged, Quote the Raven, and Mallory Johnson, as the province celebrates its Year of the Arts in 2024

 Transatlantic connections will also be celebrated with the appearances of banjo prodigy Nora Brown with Stephanie Coleman, country artist Brennen Leigh, and quartet Corner House, featuring Orphir’s own Louise Bichan heading home for the festival.  

 Long-time musical collaborators Michael McGoldrick and John McCusker will be joined for one weekend only by Orcadian Kris Drever, combining the talents of three heavyweights in the UK folk scene.   The festival will also be joined by legendary Irish musicians, Mairtín O’Connor, Cathal Hayden, and Seamie O’Dowd, as well as the rarely seen live Dòchas, featuring Julie Fowlis, Jenna Reid, Kathleen Boyle, Carol-Anne MacKay, Eilidh MacLeod and Martin O’Neill. 

One of Orkney’s most famed musicians, Ivan Drever, will head home to the festival from his base in Norway. The isles’ Nordic links will also be celebrated with master Hardanger fiddle player, Alexander Aga Røystrand, making his first appearance at the event. 

The title of furthest travelled act next year will go to Australia’s sister duo, Charm of Finches, who bring their intricate and bewitching folk-pop to the islands, while Jack Rutter takes folk, roots and acoustic music from Yorkshire following the recent release of his new album.   

From Scotland, audiences can look forward to seeing multi-award winners, RURA, chamber-folk quartet RANT and Californian-based Scottish fiddle master, Alasdair Fraser in his partnership with acclaimed cellist, Natalie Haas.  

Folk singer and songwriter Claire Hastings will return for the second year in a row, while BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award finalist, Ryan Young, adds his distinctive sound on the fiddle to the line up.   Award-winning singer Hannah Rarity offers a mix of traditional, contemporary and self-penned material, while Rachel Hair & Ron Jappy create a fiery duo combining the Scottish harp and guitar with electrifying results.  

MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards nominees for Folk Band of the Year, Assynt, will combine tight-knit fiddle and pipe playing with intricate guitar grooves, while The Glencraig Scottish Dance Band will invite dancers to take the floor at ceilidhs in the county.  

JenEric, featuring Jen Austin and Eric Linklater, will make a return to the festival following their nomination for Original Work of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.  Local award-winning folk fiddler Jennifer Wrigley will appear with fellow Orcadian musician, Laurence Wilson, who has returned to the stage following a lengthy break pursuing a worldwide backstage career.   Audiences can look forward to seeing Saltfishforty ahead of an expected new album in 2024, while the newest generation of Orkney’s folk talent, Auskerry, will make their debut appearance at the festival.  

 And, of course, no Orkney Folk Festival line up would be complete without Saturday Stomp favourites, The Chair, who will be celebrating their 20th anniversary at the festival, having formed for the 2004 event.  

 More artists performing at the 2024 festival will be announced in the new year.  

Next year’s event follows celebrations for the festival’s 40th anniversary in May 2023, its most successful outing to date with more than 8,500 tickets sold.  The festival’s birthday celebrations included being named Event of the Year at this year’s MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards, in Dundee on 2 December 2023. 

Orkney Folk Festival Producer, Craig Corse said: “With just under six months to go, we’re excited to announce some of the acts heading to Orkney in May for our 41st festival!  A few artists are brand new to the festival – and for some, new to touring Scotland and the UK – who I know will go down well with our audiences over the weekend. We’ve also got a few returning favourites from Canada, the USA and Scotland that we’ve been asked for time and time again and are looking forward to welcoming back to Stromness.   As ever it’s great to announce a good few Orcadian artists at this stage, including The Chair who mark their 20th birthday at the 2024 festival – which I’m sure is going to be a night to remember. We’re very keen to encourage young homegrown artists, so are also delighted to welcome Auskerry to their first Orkney Folk Festival, alongside many more Orcadian acts to be announced over the coming months. We say it every year, but the islands’ own folk scene, and the unparalleled welcome and social atmosphere that provides the visiting artists, really does make the festival uniquely special, and the envy of many.    In these dark winter nights, it’s great to think ahead to the long spring days of May and being back in Stromness and at events throughout the county for another great Orkney Folk Festival weekend.” 

Festival fans can play now a part in the event’s continued success by joining the Orkney Friends supporter scheme. For £60 per two adults, support for the volunteer-run charity offers great benefits in return, including: exclusive festival events; early ticket sale access; discounts on festival merchandise; and discounts on travel to Orkney, subject to annual sponsorship. Each Orkney Friends membership also offers early access to tickets for children.   More details here : orkneyfolkfestival.com/orkney-friends

 Memberships are on sale via the Orkney Folk Festival website between now and 29 February 2024. 

 *The festival is run entirely by volunteers – and has been since its inception in 1982. The year-round management committee and board are supported by more than a hundred others in the lead up to the festival.  

As a charity, the festival relies on the generosity of supporters to produce a varied programme of visiting and local artists each year. Its Orkney Friends scheme allows festival fans to play an important part in its continued success by supporting the volunteer-run event and the part it plays in celebrating folk music. For £60 a year per two adults it offers benefits including exclusive festival events; early ticket sale access; discounts on festival merchandise; and discounts on travel to Orkney, subject to annual sponsorship. Orkney Friends will be on sale between 1 December 2023 and 29 February 2024 ahead of the 2024 festival. 

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