Whatever the time of year, there is always lots going in Shetland. Whilst some events will take place throughout the islands, most are based in Lerwick.
Shetland’s famous fire festival, Up Helly-Aa, takes place in Lerwick on the last Tuesday of January each year.
Shetland’s County Drama Festival, a showcase for local acting talent is a week-long event that takes place in the Garrison Theatre in early March.
The Shetland County Music Festival is a week-long event, taking place in the middle of March, in Lerwick’s Town Hall and the Clickimin Centre. It is a platform for Shetland’s musical youngsters and culminates in a show stopping gala concert.
Shetland’s Young Fiddler of the Year competition is a two day event held at the Garrison Theatre in April. The competition is organised by the Shetland Folk Society in order to ‘encourage and perpetuate the playing of traditional fiddle music and tunes’. Large numbers of young people from throughout the isles take part in the event which culminates in a concert showcasing Shetland’s amazing young fiddlers.
The prestigious Shetland Folk Festival takes place over four days at the beginning of May and is based in Lerwick with events taking place throughout the isles. The festival ‘sessions’ are amongst the best in the world and visiting artistes are regularly dumbfounded by the quantity and quality of local musicians that these remote isles have to offer.
If you are visiting in the last weekend of June then you will be able to enjoy the Bergen - Shetland Yacht Race - an event which has grown rapidly since the first event in 1986 - recently there has been up to 40 competitors taking part and the size of yachts has also increased over the years, making this quite an impressive spectacle indeed.
Shetland’s Nature Festival takes place in early July and celebrates Shetland’s wonderful natural heritage, with events and activities throughout the isles to suit all ages and abilities.
The Fiddle Frenzy festival which has workshops in fiddle, guitar accompaniment, creative writing, knitting techniques, painting and drawing as well as concerts and visits, takes place in August and is also mainly based in Lerwick.
Wordplay, Shetland’s annual book festival takes place at various events in Lerwick in early September. It welcomes writers of local, national and international renown and features a mix of readings, writing workshops, children’s theatre events and book signings.
The Peerie Willie Guitar Festival features concerts and educational events held in venues and schools throughout Shetland in October/November each year. The event is dedicated to the memory of the late William Johnson, the highly renowned local guitarist who pioneered the jazz influenced accompaniment style now prevalent in traditional Shetland music.
Also in October is the increasingly popular Shetland Wool Week. Amongst other delights on offer during the week are knitting master classes in Fair Isle and Shetland Fine Lace and workshops in hand-spinning, weaving and felting.
The Shetland Fiddle and Accordion Festival takes place over a five-day period in early October and mainly concentrates on music provided by Shetland's two most popular instruments - the accordion and the fiddle. Musicians from all over the world perform at the event, although the emphasis is on Scottish Dance music, culminating in one of the biggest traditional dances to take place anywhere in the UK.
The annual Craft Fair, inspired by Shetland's dramatic scenery, heritage and culture, takes place at the Clickimin Centre in November. Local producers offer a unique range of woodcraft, knitwear and textiles, fancy goods, fashion and home accessories, gifts and fine art.
If you fancy visiting Shetland at Christmas or New Year you will find plenty of events taking place throughout the festive season as well.