Get ready to dive into nature at the Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival!

NatureScot
Are you ready for your next wildlife adventure? The Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival is returning this summer, and with a packed programme of events and activities across the islands, there’s something for everyone!

This year’s festival will be taking place from the 22nd to the 29th of June, with a Fringe Festival running throughout July. With an unmissable programme of events running across the archipelago, there will be something for everyone – residents and visitors, families and friends, those new to wildlife and the more seasoned nature-lover.

The Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival is an opportunity to celebrate and connect with the incredible wildlife and landscapes of the Outer Hebrides. Maybe you enjoy a quiet stroll through nature, or sitting down with a pencil and paper and letting your creativity flow. Perhaps you find nothing better than expanding your knowledge of our natural world from the experts, or maybe you prefer to get your wetsuit on and dive right in (quite literally!).

However or wherever you feel most at one with nature, the Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival is sure to have you covered. You can view the full programme on the festival website, or here’s a look at just some of what’s on offer:

Lewis

Woodland SUP Lesson

Head to the Aline Community Woodland and try an introduction to paddle-boarding with SurfLewis. The sheltered location on the border between Lewis and Harris will not only set your SUP heart alight, it’s a prime spot for birdwatching. If you are lucky you will see eagles, herons and woodland birds.

Out and About Batty Art Workshops

Feeling batty? Join the An Lanntair arts education team as they play echolocation games to help you understand how these marvellous creatures navigate the world. You can even make your own bat kite.

Bumblebee

Harris and Scalpay

Harris Surf Safari

SurfLewis are doing their thing over at West Harris with surfing lessons with a difference – here, as well as waves, you might see sea birds, seals and eagles.

Eilean Glas Walk and Shorewatch

Maor-dùthcha na Hearadh/North Harris Ranger is ready to take guests on a guided walk to the Eilean Glas lighthouse, keeping a watchful eye on the sea and on the shore. Learn about the local area’s culture and wildlife, and keep your fingers crossed for a chance to see whales, porpoises and dolphins.

Niseaboist Nature: Scribble and Scrawl

Local children’s author Louisa MacDougall invites you to join her on a stroll through the machair and along the shore at Niseaboist, followed by an informal creative writing (drawing if you prefer) workshop inspired by the wildlife they encounter. Louisa is the author of the Great Auk’s Great Escape, a picture book (with illustrator Joceline Hildrey) set in the Hebrides about an extinct seabird, which is launching as part of the Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival. Her other books are Rory and the Snack Dragons and the Highland Cowgirl.

Eagle Observatory Sit-in

Gleann Mhiabhaig is one of Harris' most scenic glens, and home to the Eagle Observatory. The Maor-dùthcha na Hearadh / North Harris Ranger will be at the Observatory over the afternoon, ready to answer your questions about the local area and helping you look for golden eagles and other wildlife in the glen.

NatureScot

The Uists and Benbecula

Wildlife Filmmaking: A career inspired by the wildlife of the Outer Hebrides

Eleanor Hamilton has had the joy of working on David Attenborough’s Wild Isles series and BBC Springwatch, and her passion for the natural world shines through. Find out about her award-winning career as a wildlife camerawoman.

Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival Art Exhibition

The official festival art exhibition at Cnoc Soilleir is a not to be missed. The exhibition will be showcasing the work of local nature-inspired artists – creativity and the natural world in glorious harmony.

Thank the bee for your G&T!

North Uist Distillery, in collaboration with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, are toasting bumblebees at this year’s wildlife festival! Join them at the Nunton Steadings Visitor Centre to learn about how botanicals, the distillation process, recipe development, the distillery and island life all come together to make their Downpour Gin. Of course, you’ll get to sample their award winning gin and their Oak Aged Negroni cocktail. Are you driving? No fear, choose the driving package and take minis home with you to enjoy.

Joining the distillery team at this very special event will be Gill Perkins, CEO of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, who will explain about the essential role that bumblebees play in pollinating the botanicals that go into the gin. Find out more about the lifecycle of these small but mighty pollinators, and how you can help them thrive on the islands.

Check out the festival programme for event dates, times, locations and booking information.

The Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival is coordinated by Species on the Edge, a new conservation programme funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund working to conserve Scotland’s rarest and most vulnerable coastal species. In addition to coordinating the festival, the Species on the Edge Outer Hebrides team, Mairi Carrey and Emma Stobart, are working with communities across the islands to help them support and conserve their local vulnerable wildlife.

Scotland’s coasts and islands provide a last refuge for some of the country’s most rare and vulnerable species. Their continued presence on these fringes can in large part be attributed to the continuation of traditional land management practices, such as crofting, which in much of the mainland has been replaced by more intensive practices.

Fiona Strachan, Programme Manager for Species on the Edge

“The Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival provides an opportunity to celebrate these special species by bringing together the communities that make their continued presence here possible.”

To keep up to date with what’s happening during the festival, and to keep an eye out for on any programme changes (we’re sorry but weather can sometimes impact the festival timetable!), follow the festival on Facebook

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