Our September Diary

by Alastair Hamilton -

September may mean autumn is here, but not all the signs of summer have faded. Cruise ships continue to call, with visits still to come from the Viking Sun, Viking Sea, Norwegian Jade, Aidacara and Viking Star. The beautiful Norwegian three-master, the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, will be here again, too. Meanwhile, our impeccably-restored sail training vessel, Swan, continues her cruise in Norwegian waters and, after returning to Shetland, will cruise Shetland from east to west from the 21st to 23rd.

Two big events take pride of place in September’s diary.

2018 is the Year of Young People, supported by the Scottish Government, Shetland Islands Council and a host of sponsors. In Shetland, there’s a three-day celebration, The Big Takeover, when young people will be involved in a packed programme of more than 80 events featuring arts, culture and sports. There are exhibitions; dance, poetry, film-making and circus workshops; a club night and a Big Boogie; a Young Promoters’ concert, lots of action in the Clickimin Pool, dodgeball, a murder mystery evening; a foam party; and lots more.

It’s all being organised by young people themselves and several local organisations, with participation by many more. Young folk from Orkney and the Western Isles have been invited to Shetland to join in the fun, with Loganair offering discounts. We can expect young people to be involved in other ways, too. For example, the passenger safety announcements on the two NorthLink ferries that connect Shetland to Orkney and Aberdeen are currently being voiced by students from Lerwick’s Anderson High School. NorthLink is offering travel bursaries, too.

The other big event is Shetland Wool Week, which runs from 22nd to 30th September. Now in its ninth year, Wool Week has grown into a hugely popular event that celebrates every aspect of Shetland wool and knitting. It attracts visitors from all over the world, who are treated to an extensive and diverse programme of exhibitions, classes, tours and talks.

Whether participants’ interests are focused on spinning, knitting, crochet, weaving, felting dyeing, lacework, or any of the other strands on offer, a great week is in prospect. Shetland (and Fair Isle, which lies 25 miles south of the Shetland Mainland) are of course synonymous with some of the finest knitting and textiles in the world, and Wool Week fits Shetland like a perfectly-crafted glove.

However, there’s lots more to enjoy in September. The month began with our second annual Shetland Beer Festival and we have three art exhibitions: Flow, by John Cumming, runs until 23 September at the Booth Studio in Scalloway; Richard Rowland’s etchings is at Vaila Fine Art in Lerwick; and Amy Gear’s show, Cliff Face, can be seen until the middle of the month at the Shetland Museum’s gallery, Da Gadderie.

Advice for those wanting to develop careers in the arts is on offer during the month. For those keen to tread the boards, the National Theatre of Scotland will be running workshops and surgeries on the 8th covering careers in performance and playwriting. Creative Scotland will be in Shetland on the 9th, bringing advice for those interested in applying for funding for visual artists. Lucy Conway, from the isle of Eigg, and Emma Nicolson, from Skye, will be discussing creative practice in rural settings on 10th September.

As always, there’s music. In the first week of the month, Aly Bain and his longtime collaborator, Phil Cunningham, bring their irresistible mix of tunes and amusing tales to Mareel, the northern village of Brae and Fair Isle. Mareel’s big screen will take us all the way to Sydney Harbour on the 23rd, for a sumptuous performance of Puccini’s La Bohème by Opera Australia. On the 25th, there are punchy, moving and uplifting songs from Callum Beattie, whose influences range from Biffy Clyro to Kings of Leon via Oasis and the Kaiser Chiefs.

If there’s still room in your diary, the Shetland Arts listings page brims over with events and a great selection of films that includes Emma Thompson’s moving The Children Act, Christopher Robin featuring Ewan McGregor, and two documentaries, the brilliantly-observed Ex Libris: New York Public Library and a reflection on the work of sculptor, environmentalist and photographer Andy Goldsworthy.

And people occasionally ask us what we find to do…

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