Subsidised Places FAQs

What does subsidised accommodation mean? 

  • Subsidised accommodation consists of accommodation on a half-board basis: a shared bunk room in the Bird Observatory Hostel will be reserved for you, inc. breakfast and evening meal for up to 10 week-day nights.

  • (Please note: weekends, lunches and drinks not included. Volunteers are responsible for their own transport and activity costs.)


Can I stay somewhere else?

  • Yes! but it is your responsibility to sort this out, and let us know as we will then make the reserved place available to someone else.

  • You can book accommodation elsewhere on the island (check our accommodation page), upgrade to the Observatory Guest House or bring a tent or campervan.


Can I bring my tent?

  • Yes! If you bring your tent we have more accommodation free for more volunteers! There is no change given for an accommodation voucher so if you are awarded a subsidised place and decide to camp we will instead cover a special campsite voucher for camping fees and a return flight or passenger ferry fare from Kirkwall to North Ronaldsay. You will still receive meal vouchers for breakfast and evening meal.

Who is eligible to apply?

  • Everyone is welcome to apply and all applications will be considered.

  • It doesn't matter if you have had previous dyking experience, can stay for only a few days or a week, if you have previously attended the Sheep Festival or this is your first time - all are welcome to apply!

  • The only thing we ask of you is that you have tons of enthusiasm, a sense of adventure and are not afraid of the odd Orkney shower. 


What if I've already booked accommodation? How does payment work?

  • When you check in at the festival desk if you have a subsidised or part-subsidised place we will give you meal and accommodation vouchers to use for your stay. This means you can eat at different places for dinner if you want and don’t have to keep all of your receipts.

  • For any accommodation other than the Bird Observatory Hostel you will need to let the establishment know you are planning to use Sheep Festival Vouchers as part of your payment.


Is there a limit to how many volunteers can sign up?

  • We are currently not limiting how many people can sign up to volunteer. HOWEVER we have provisionally set a limit of 20 volunteers per dyke building session for health and safety purposes and to ensure enough supervision for proper dyke building technique. Those with subsidised places (max 10 per session) will be guaranteed to attend and unsubsidised volunteers will join each session on a first come, first serve basis. Don't worry - we have two whole weeks of dyke building and this has not become a problem in previous years. With increasing interest in the festival, this is something that we must plan for! We will of course keep our volunteers informed of any issues!

What if I don't get a subsidised place? Can I still come?

  • Of course! As a charitable cause we have budget constraints and can only offer a limited number of subsidised spaces that doesn't mean we don't want or need more hands! Last year saw a brilliant mix of volunteers from far and wide and staying in different island accommodation.

I have more questions!
Great, ask away by emailing us here and we'll be happy to answer any queries!

We hope to see you there - 
Happy 2019 from The Sheep Festival Committee!

© The North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival 2019

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In association with

The Orkney Sheep Foundation


The North Ronaldsay Trust