April – Walk Islay
In April each year Islay and Jura Tourism and Marketing Group organise a weeklong walking festival open to all, across Islay, Jura and Colonsay.
May/June – Islay Festival of Malt and Music (Feis Ile)
Islay Festival of Malt and Music (Feis Ile).
July – Cantilena Chamber Music Festival
A week of chamber music in venues across Islay.
August – Islay Half Marathon
The Islay Half Marathon started in 1986 and involves a 13 mile 192yd run from the village of Bowmore on Islay out to Islay Airport and back in a circular route.
August – Ride of the Falling Rain
The Ride of the Falling Rain, a 100 mile (162km) ride along the roads of the Isle of Islay.
August – Islay Tope Fishing Festival
Tope’s are regular visitors in Islay’s waters and also in Loch Indaal. That’s the reason Stormcats, boat builders at Lagavulin, are organising the Islay Tope Fishing Festival annually since 2006.
September – Islay Jazz Festival
Using the entire island as a backdrop you can hear world-class musicians playing a concert in a distillery filling shed, after a bird-watching walk, in the front room of Islay House or whilst sampling the home baking at Portnahaven.
Sept/Oct – Islay Book Festival
The Islay Book Festival, formerly known as the Port Ellen Book Festival, has something for adults and children alike. The event is held annually and welcomes many famous authors.
November – Islay Sessions
Get ready for a fantastic weekend of music on Islay….Bring your fiddle and join in!
All 8 Islay and Jura distilleries offer guided tours.
The three South Islay distilleries (Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg) are now linked by a new cycle/footpath, making it easier for visitors to travel between all three distilleries in a day.
Laphroaig – 01496 302418
Lagavulin – 01496 302749
Ardbeg – 01496 302244
Ardbeg has also has an café
Elsewhere on Islay and Jura
Bowmore, café Bowmore Taste of Islay adjacent to the distillery – 01496 810441
Caol Ile – 01496 302769
Bunnahabhain – 01496 840646
Kilchoman – 01496 850011
Bruchladdich – 01496 850190
Jura – 01496 820 385
RSPB – Loch Gruniart and The Oa. Visitor Center at Loch Gruniart – 01496 850505
Regular tours at both sites. Loch Gruniart is noted for its geese and wading birds, while the reserve at The Oa you can spot golden eagles and choughs.
More information www.rspb.org.uk
Islay Natural History Trust, Port Charlotte – 01496 850288
Displays demonstrating Islay’s rich wildlife including butterflies, sealife, birds and flowers. Tell the trust what you have spotted during your stay and they will include it in their extensive database. Regular talks (including refreshments) and a summer programme of events. Great for children.
Islay Sea Adventures – 01496 300129
Based in Port Ellen, experienced, local skippers will tke you on a 2-3 hours wildlife spotting trip whre you could see basking sharks, seals, otters and rare white-tailed sea eagles.
Pony trekking – 01496 302251
Ballivicar Farm, Port Ellen, riding for all ages and levels of experience.
Fishing – Tel: 01496 810221
Permits for fly fishing available for various sites around Islay from Islay Estates: Estate Office, Bridgend, Isle of Islay, PA44 7PB
Fishing is available on Ardtalla Estate
Sea fishing – 01496 300129
Islay Sea Adventures, Port Ellen
Kayaking – Kayak Wild Islay, Port Ellen. 07973 725456 email@example.com
Full and half day guided kayak trips, no experience necessary.
Cycle Hire – 07760196562
Islay Cycles, Port Ellen. Adult and child bike hire for 1 day to 1 week. Child trailer also available for hire. Bike repairs carried out.
Swimming/Gym – 01496 810767
Community owned leisure facility in Bowmore including 25m pool, gym and sauna.
An association of Islay and Jura crafts people and artisits. Sale every Thursday, Columba Hall, Port Ellen.
Persabus Pottery & Cafe – 01496 840243
Situated near Port Askaig, Persabus sells their own ranges of pottery or you can paint your own while enjoying tea, sandwiches and cake.
Outback Art – 01496 850259
Gallery and café in a converted barn at remote Sanaigmore. Paintings, jewellery and sculpture.
Liz Sykes Baticks – Islay Square, Bridgend.
Original batik work inspired by Islay.
Islay Studio Gallery – Islay Square, Bridgend.
Gallery specialising in photographic work but also stocks painting by local artists and well known west coast artists.
Islay Woollen Mill – 01496 810563
Located near Bridgend the woollen mill produces high quality woven fabric and a variety of products made from their tweed.
History & Heritage
This is not an extensive list of all the historical attractions on the island, but a summary of the most widely visited.
Museum of Islay Life
Based in a converted church in Port Charlotte, the museum has an extensive range of exhibits from the Mesolithic to the present day as well as a library.
The centre of the Lordship of the Isles, Finlaggan, near Port Askaig is of great importance to Scottish history. Informative visitor centre and café.
Kildalton Cross and Church
Situated on the Ardtalla Estate, Kildalton Cross is one of the finest early Christian crosses in Scotland and dates from the 8th century. It sits in the grounds of the Old Parish Church of Kildalton which has many fascinating medieval gravestones both in the church and graveyard.
Built in 1767 this distinctive round church is at the top of Main Street, Bowmore. It is said to have been built round in shape so there were no corners for the devil to hide in.
Standing on cliffs at the end of the Oa Peninsular, the American Monument was built by the American Red Cross in 1920 commemorate the loss of two troop ships, The Tuscania and The Otranto in 1918 with an estimated combined loss of over 600 lives.