Springtime in Orkney is a moveable feast. April can be amazing, Nature in full flood, buds bursting forth, sap rising and the island bejeweled with golden daffodils and drumstick primulas everywhere you look. It is also quiet, and with most visitor attractions moving to summer timetables from the 1st April though the season does not start fully until the 1st of May, it can be a wonderful time to visit.
Or April can be dire, as Winter extends its grip further and deeper into the year. Buds shriveling under an onslaught of severe salt laden gales, daffodil heads exploded across the land and day after day of freezing temperatures. Even the most resiliant may suffer the depression of a seventh month of gloom.
The annual tourist season starts to build from the Easter break, and with Easter falling early March 29th - April 1st (2013) this year it will hopefully herald a good season. With the Orkney Jazz Festival, 19th-21st April (2013) also starting the festival season off in good style.
The Jazz Festival is based primarily at the Stromness Hotel, and showcases local jazz musicians as well as well known musicians from the jazz scene within the UK. It is the smallest of the music festivals but remains perfectly formed. If good music and good fun is for you then this is clearly a very good week to arrive.
May signifies the start of the full blown summer season. Curiously although the adult population may double in the summer months it has little obvious effect on the general tranquility of the Islands. The sensible tourist should perhaps time visits to the more obvious attractions for early morning or evenings to avoid possible coach loads of liner fodder on their
its tuesday so it must be Orkney, whirlwinds but in general a combination of so much to see allied with increasingly long daylight hours avoids any problems.
According to the Weather stats May is the sunniest month and the driest, but still cool. Certain things do happen in May if the weather is good which should not be missed; the return of the Puffins, the bluebell Woods of Balfour Castle and the wonderful golden adornment of Egilsay. Taking advantage of these dry and sunny stats is part of the reason the RSPB have decided to launch the exciting 11th-19th May 2013 Orkney Nature Festival, which promises to be a very exciting series of events for natural heritage and wildlife lovers.
Bluebell woods may seem an odd thing to come to see here and I suppose that throughout the UK such sights are common place, but on an exquisite late May day with glistening Sun illuminating the small, pretty but unimportant 30 acre woodland of Balfour it can be a sight that slips into magical.
The end of May sees the second music festival of the year. The 31st Orkney Folk Festival 23rd May - 26th May 2013 which will erupt with blazing fiddles resounding throughout the land. This award winning event has become one of the most popular folk festivals on the UK calender for the performers as it is centred around the intimate charm and delight of Stromness. It is certainly an international event with acts and visitors coming in from all over the world to sample world class music. If you intend to join them then it is best to plan your trip well in advance and you are strongly advised to reserve your tickets in advance as well as demand can be very intense.