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Orkney Folk Festival – The North Isles Tattoo

What happens when you bring more than 150 musicians and dancers who range in age from under 5 to over 80? A lot of fun and The North Isles Tattoo!

Friday night’s boat journey was very enjoyable, flat calm and sunny, even through Da Roost. Enjoyable for us and those who love fiddle music – anyone who doesn’t like fiddle music probably didn’t enjoy the journey as much as we did!

With fiddles & accordions, pipe & swing bands, highland, ballet & jazz dancers, the Boys' Brigade, vikings, poets and singers, much of Saturday was spent rehearsing for the show. The massed military bands were replaced with the massed traditional bands and the lone piper by brass on the balcony.

Here's a few photos from the rehearsals:

With the two island groups joining just before the centenary of the battle of Jutland, it was no surprise that there was a maritime theme running through the tattoo. The most moving moment was when the grandchildren of Dan Kirkpatrick, coxswain of the Longhope Lifeboat lost in the 1969 disaster, laid a wreath before leading the massed traditional bands in playing the Heroes of Longhope. A video of the moving performance can be seen here, courtesy of the Orkney Traditional Music Project.

No tattoo show is complete without fireworks and Orkney didn't disappoint – it has to be said that the indoor fireworks were definitely not smokeless! Hats off to the production team for putting together such a wonderful show - thank you!

The Stromness academy was the venue for Sunday afternoon’s Fiddlers' Rally bringing together more massed traditional bands. Hosted by the West Mainland Strathspey and Reel Society it saw players from all over Orkney and beyond. It was good to see some well known Shetland faces in the audience too. The rest of the weekend was spent in true Hjaltibonhoga style with lots of tunes and merriment.

We were delighted to be invited to perform at the Orkney Folk Festival and it’s fair to say the weekend lived up to all the expectations. A big thanks to the festival committee for making it such a great weekend.


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