The festival takes place over a hectic five-day period in early October. As with the Shetland Folk Festival, musicians from all over the world perform at the event, although emphasis is on Scottish Dance music. Local musicians feature prominently in the event line-up. Tunes are swapped and musicians make new friends in the sessions that are an important part of the festival; younger musicians find them especially valuable in broadening their experience.
Adopting the tried and trusted format of widespread community involvement, the event incorporates most areas of Shetland. It culminates in one of the biggest traditional dances to take place anywhere in the UK. Around a dozen different dance bands take it in turn to perform to 1,500 enthusiasts in the local sports centre in what amounts to a highly enjoyable "traditional rave".