With a huge range of sports facilities, clubs and societies, as well as endless open space and fresh air, Shetland offers something for everyone, whatever your passion.

Sports facilities

When it comes to sports and recreation, Shetland’s got it covered. With six leisure centres, eight swimming pools, four golf courses, sports pitches, tennis courts, football, netball and rugby leagues and a thriving network of clubs and trainers in just about any sport you fancy, Shetland is unrivalled in sport and leisure provision.

There are six main leisure centres, located in Lerwick (Clickimin), Aith (West Mainland), Brae in the North Mainland, and in the islands of Yell, Unst, and Whalsay. Each contains a swimming pool with comfortable family changing facilities, and indoor courts for badminton, netball, squash and football, as well as a gym facilities. Clickimin and West Mainland (Aith) also have health suites with saunas and steam rooms, climbing walls, trampolines and carpet bowls.

There are also two swimming pools, found in Scalloway, in central Mainland, and Sandwick, in the South Mainland, both running a varied programme of lessons and classes, from family-friendly fun sessions to adults only swims. They are also very popular locations for childrens' birthday parties!

Sports clubs

There’s a good chance you’ll find your sport in Shetland – from football to clay-target shooting, Shetland has something for you whether you’re an experienced practitioner or looking to get started.

In the summer months, sea activities like sailing and yoal rowing are popular, while wild swimming, stand up paddle poarding and kayaking are also growing in popularity.

Racquet-sports like badminton, squash and short tennis can be played in most leisure centres (where you can also rent equipment) and there are 14 multicourts and an open-air tennis court in the Jubilee Flower Park.

Martial arts are well catered for too, with fencing, karate, kung-fu, tai-chi, MMA, and even medieval armoured combat all available to seasoned pros and beginners.

There are also studio-based activities like yoga, jazzercise, zumba and even vertical fitness.

Active kids

There are plenty of opportunities for children and young people to stay active with a wealth of classes and clubs for just about every sport, from toddlers to teenagers.

There are also soft play facilities at Clickimin and Islesburgh Community Centre, mini-golf in the flower park, and an astonishing 74 play areas across the isles.

Many of the adult sports associations, such as football and rugby, organise training, and children and young people’s leagues, too.

Joining a sports club: useful links
  • Shetland Recreational Trust host a wide range of classes, clubs and competitions at their leisure centres. See their website for more details.
  • The Shetland Community Directory lists the names and contact details for a whole range of clubs and societies, from archery through to yoga. If you're wondering if Shetland has a club for your sport or activity, this is the ideal place to find out.
  • The Shetland Directory also lists sports and social clubs information. Simply search by category.
  • Shetland Islands Council also supports individuals and clubs through its Sports Development programme. Visit the website to find out more.
  • If you're looking for information about a particular sport or activity, you can also ask our Living and Working in Shetland Facebook group. Our members are always happy to share their knowledge and offer useful suggestions.

Cinema and theatre

Shetland's main arts venue is Mareel, which houses two cinema screens and a live performance auditorium. The cinema shows a good mix of Hollywood blockbusters and family films, alongside independent releases and arthouse films. You can view the latest listings on the Mareel website.

The Garrison Theatre in Lerwick hosts a programme of community and professional shows, including live theatre, comedy, dance and pantomime. If you're interested in getting involved in amateur dramatics, see the list of drama groups on the Shetland Community Directory website.

Music

Shetland offers many kinds of musical experience, whether you want to participate or just listen. A great many people play music, thanks in large part to the availability of musical tuition in Shetland schools.

If you want to play music in Shetland, there are a number of clubs and societies you can join, from brass band to pipe band. See the Shetland Community Directory's Music page for more details.

If you want to listen to live music in Shetland, Mareel and Clickimin host regular gigs with local and visiting artists. Shetland’s modern network of country halls also handles many musical events and there are regular jam sessions in local pubs.

Local art galleries

Art

The landscape and the clear, northern light of Shetland have inspired hundreds of artists. Those working in the visual arts today embrace a wide range of styles and techniques, from remarkable seascapes by Ruth Brownlee to the abstracts of Paul Bloomer. There is sculpture and photography, too. For a flavour of some of the artists working in Shetland today, The Shetland Gallery website is a good starting point. And, if you're interested in getting involved in the visual arts, see the Shetland Community Directory for a list of local clubs and associations.

Knitting, crafts and other hobbies

Shetland is, of course, famous for its knitwear and there are plenty of opportunities to learn these skills if you're living in Shetland. There are a number of private knitting tutors, as well as workshops available to join. A great place to start is the Shetland Wool Week website. Although primarily aimed at those visiting Shetland for the annual Wool Week event, it has listings of local wool suppliers and knitwear designers, and is a useful source of information.

As well as knitwear, Shetland welcomes all sorts of craftspeople and makers. There are often workshops and classes available in everything from pottery and jewellery making to leatherwork and woodwork.

Or, if your interests lie elsewhere, for example in cooking, gardening, photography, writing or languages, there are always opportunities to get involved, or support to set up your own club or organisation. The Shetland Community Directory is a good place to search for local clubs, as well as local press for the latest evening classes and workshops. For book clubs and creative writing groups, visit the Shetland Library.