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September 2014 Visit Shetland Newsletter



If you're a bird watcher September is a great month to head to Fair Isle, although there's never a bad time to visit. From August to October the wardening teams aim to complete a fully daily census of the migrants passing through the isle - you can even stay at the bird observatory and take part in some of their activities. Some rare birds have been known to turn up, which always adds an air of excitement. Getting to and from Fair Isle is all part of the experience - after all travelling is often about the journey, not just the destination - but whether you choose to take the ferry (2hrs 40mins from Sumburgh/4hrs 30mins from Lerwick) or fly in the 8 seater "Islander" plane that lands on a very small airstrip, you'll always receive a warm welcome.

From the southern most isle to the most northerly now - My favourite of all the Farmers" Markets is the Baltasound one (all the farmers" markets are good, I just can't resist a trip to Unst!) and the next one is on 28th September from 11am-1.30pm - although I'd recommend getting there sharpish to guarantee the pick of the crop.

If you've been putting off a trip to one of the many heritage centres or rural museums around Shetland then it's worth noting that some of them close to the public in October, so now is the time to get out there and pay them a visit. The Shetland Heritage Association is a good place to find out information on what's on offer.

As usual, I like to mention all things arty and there's still time to get to the 20:20 exhibition which runs until 7th September at the Bonhoga Gallery in Weisdale, from the 13th you can see "Common Thread" by Jes Deschenes. Jes was born and brought up in Whalsay and studied textiles at the Glasgow School of Art and Royal College of Art. Her exhibition presents a visual narrative through textiles in response to her Shetland heritage.

ScreenPlay 2014

Shetland's annual film festival, ScreenPlay runs from 29th August until 7th September and is curated by film critics Linda Ruth Williams and Mark Kermode and the Festival Director, Kathy Hubbard. My head is spinning and my diary is packed as this year's festival is made up of 95 events including: 20 feature films, 6 documentaries, 3 workshops, 1 lecture, 11 Q&As, 2 film quizzes, 6 education screenings, 2 outreach events, 1 gig, 1 wild party, loads of local films, and short films galore! Phew - I'm going to get through a lot of popcorn!!

This year's guests include Brian Cox and Steven Robertson (originally from Vidlin in Shetland) who both recently starred in the television drama Shetland. They're both taking part in Q&A sessions and there's a chance that you'll get to bump into them in Mareel's cafe bar - it's that type of festival, very informal and easy going.

Screenplay gives you the opportunity to see what local film makers have been up to - there's the ever popular Home Made section; you can catch Ebb Tide, a collection of 6 films inspired by artefacts or stories brought back to Shetland from Commonwealth countries. It's the first time Ebb Tide has been shown outside Glasgow, where it was screened on board The Tall Ship as part of the Cultural Festival surrounding the Commonwealth Games. You can see local dialect film Dis Quiet by Bruce Eunson, a mock horror, Trou by JJ Jamieson and a selection of shorts in the Home Made day.

I met up with the festival's director Kathy Hubbard to find out all about it.

Shetland Blues Festival

The Shetland Blues Festival is now in its 11th year and will take place over the weekend of the 12 - 14 September with events taking place in Mareel and the Vidlin Hall. All visiting artists will be appearing at the Vidlin Hall over the Friday and Saturday nights and over three nights in Mareel. The Saturday pub trail will also take place with free gigs in the Lounge, the Wheel bar and the Douglas Arms though the afternoon. It's always a great atmosphere at the pub gigs, so be sure to pop along.

Headlining acts this year are Bob Malone from the USA and Hans Theesink from Holland. Hans Theesink is one of Europe's top acoustic blues players with a rich voice and will be playing material from his forty years as a blues artist. Bob Malone is taking in the Shetland Blues Festival as part of his UK tour and is a top keyboard player, currently his day job is playing keyboards in John Fogerty's band. Bob plays a mix of New Orleans and roots music and should get any venue jumping by the end of the night.

Other highlights include triple British Blues Awards nominee Half Deaf Clatch and from Northern Ireland the Kaz Hawkins band, who will be bringing there mix of gospel, rhythm n blues and soul to the festival. Return visits from Dale Storr and the King Bees with local band Sore Finger rounding out the festival line up.

Tickets are on sale from the Shetland Box Office either from Islesburgh or Mareel and online at A special weekend ticket for all three nights costs £35 with individual tickets costing £15. All the latest information will be available online at

Shetland Wool Week

October is the perfect time to come indoors, sit beside the fire, cast on stitches and knit a jumper that'll see you through many a Shetland winter, so it's quite apt that Shetland Wool Week is on next month. It celebrates the traditions of Fair Isle knitting, the first class Shetland fleece and wool and and the industry as a whole. There's a lot to learn during Wool Week, even the most experienced knitter will come away with new skills and there's some pretty special venues for classes and workshops - who wouldn't like to knit onboard a restored Tall Ship, or at the newly restored Sumburgh Head lighthouse? Have a look at this film made of last year's Wool Week to get a flavour of what went on.

Hazel Tindall, a local knitter who has twice held the title as the World's fastest knitter is the Patron of Shetland Wool Week. People who are attending Wool Week have been asked to knit them in their own chosen colours and take them to Shetland. See how many you can spot while you're here. Or if you've made one, send us a selfie! I met up with Hazel to find out about her love of knitting - have a listen to find out yourself.

60 North Magazine

60 North edition is now available to purchase in print!

I love nothing more than sitting down and flicking through a magazine - and now 60 North is available in print. For three years 60 North magazine has been covering stories about all aspects of life in Shetland and bringing you inspiration, interesting information and stunning photography. The digital copies will still be free and the printed version is available for £3.90. And subscription will be available soon.

Editor, Misa Hay is busy putting together the Autumn issue at the moment, so treat yourself to a piece of Shetland and order your copy now!

Competition Time!

Competition Time now and congratulations to Mick Blackman from Hampshire who won a copy of the local dialect book, Mirds o Wirds.

This month we are giving away three signed copies of Thin Air by Ann Cleeves, who launches her latest book in the Shetland series on 11th September.

Want to hear more about new books from Ann Cleeves and other great Crime & Thriller books from Pan Macmillan? Sign up here for great offers, giveaways and bonus content from your favourite crime authors

Happy reading!

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