Keep It Lit: for the Storytelling Festival Welcome to the world’s largest celebration of storytelling, anchored in Scotland, a nation of storytellers - the Scottish International Storytelling Festival [14-30 October]. At the core of Scotland’s culture and identity is the hospitable hearth - a place of solidarity and welcome for friend and stranger alike. Round that symbolic fire, experiences and memories are shared, and hope affirmed.

In celebration of Scotland’s Year of Stories, the 2022 Storytelling Festival programme is the largest to date; inviting everyone to the ceilidh – locally, nationally and globally. Over 240 events will form the world’s largest celebration of storytelling, anchored at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh, and spreading tales across the city and wider Scotland, and around the world online. During this difficult year, a story shared is a trouble eased, and the festival will host 145 free events so everyone can find a seat round the hearth. So let's take a look at what's on offer at the festival in 10 easy pieces.

1. Interpreting Scotland

Storytelling - A Fairie TaleIn a series of series of new work created for this year’s Festival, creatives, within and beyond the storytelling community ask ‘How does Scotland shape its sense of self in this period of change?] and then challenge and shape stories that matter for Scotland – past, present and future. Highlights of this programme include - the opening concert Speak Out the Other [14 Oct] three storytellers are trapped in the court of the Fey and must perform to earn their freedom, with the audience deciding who deserves to return to the human realm; and A Fairie Tale [18 Oct], new storytelling at its experimental best, exploring Scottish race and gender identities through a medieval inspired landscape, set to live cello music with strangeness, sexy fairies and swearing.

2. Festival Exhibition

Storytelling - John SlavinRunning throughout the festival will be John Slavin: Land of the Ravens, a multiform exhibition with visual images, film animation, musical soundtrack and live storytelling inspired by the international folk tale Jack and the Two Ravens. The foundation of the exhibition was the recording of that folk tale by renowned storyteller Duncan Williamson of Argyll (1928-2007) which was subsequently illustrated in a series of paintings by artist John Slavin, then selected by Christine Martin for film development by animist John McGeoch, with The Twa Ravens film further enhanced by the musical interpretation of Jack Evans and members of the Harta music ensemble. Come along to the Scottish Storytelling Centre to explore this unique exhibition.

3. Open Hearths & Special Events

Storytelling - Figures of SpeechAs the darkness closes in and minds glow with pictures in the symbolic fire, the Open Hearth sessions are the perfect way to end your day as storytellers and musicians gather together for relaxed evenings in the Netherbow Theatre.  Included in this year’s programme are Edinburgh’s Burgh Blatherers who share some of their favourite stories in celebration of their first printed collection From the Burgh and Beyond. And in a special event - Figures of Speech - our expert guides will take you on a journey through Scotland’s iconic books and stories, navigating the dazzling array of new voices, and presenting newly commissioned work by artists responding to the theme of Place for Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022.

4. Tails, Tongues and Trails

Storytelling - Map of StoriesAt the centre of this year’s festival is Tails, Tongues and Trails, a series of events celebrating regional and international languages, landscapes and identities, for Scotland’s Year of Stories. Included in the events programme is Map of Stories an evening of multimedia storytelling where a world of local Scottish stories unfolds through the live voices of traditional storytellers and site-specific film footage of the landscapes they emerge from; and in Finding Hidden Streams we share stories and traditions from North America’s First Nations and Gaelic speaking cultures that are preserving and passing on their cultural identity through oral traditions

5. Family Events

Storytelling - PlopThe festival’s family events invite people of all ages to join in the delights of storytelling, from mystical unicorns and Robin Hood, to Greek gods and outdoor play, there’s something for everyone! You could take you a Greatest Hits outdoor walk around Auld Reekie in story, song and rhyme for Macastory’s Caddie Capers; or have a morning of family fun celebrating the new children’s storybook Silver Unicorns and Golden Birds, with a costume parade and live storytelling; or even join two epic Greek gods on an interactive, sing-along, eco-adventure across the seas in ‘Plop!’, an Ancient Greek slapstick comedy all about friendship, adventure and looking after our planet.

6. Partner Events

Storytelling - BotanicsDiscover Edinburgh and its surroundings by enjoying some of our many Edinburgh partner events, featuring storytelling in venues and outdoor locations across the city. Amongst the partner venues involved are the National Library of Scotland with Family Stories and Crafts [21 Oct], an afternoon of traditional stories and crafts on the theme of ‘treasures’; the Botanics Storytelling Day [22 Oct] presents family fun with storytellers popping up throughout the community garden; St Columba’s by the Castle becomes the home for Hungarian Halloween, the creepiest, most haunting, most chilling stories of Hungarian folklore; and the Waverley Bar will host Rabbler [18 Oct] An intimate, confessional and occasionally boisterous storytelling show about conspiracy theories, mob mentality and the changes just one person can make.

7. Samhuinn Fire Parade

Samhain 1Samhuinn Fire Parade [31 Oct] is a modern re-imagining of an ancient Celtic festival, marking the darkened end of summer and upcoming rise of winter. The story follows the overthrowing of Summer by Winter, with a dramatic stand-off between the Summer and Winter Kings. This is overseen by the Cailleach, a Celtic representation of the Goddess, or Divine Hag, who ultimately decides each King’s fate and ushers in the looming, colder months. Expect a characteristic mix of fire-play, drumming, and immersive performances as the event starts anew under Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.

8. Go Local

Storytelling - Go LocalScotland sparkles with stories that are waiting to be rediscovered... and you don’t need to travel far to enjoy them! From Dumfries to Shetland there’s lot of local storytelling events on offer, including - Across the Water in Argyll explores the mysteries that lie between the waters of Northern Ireland and the West Coast of Scotland; Clackmananshire brings us Tales from the Japanese Garden with a unique story tour, sharing tales of plants, special corners and its creator, the adventurer Ella Christie; while Glasgow brings us The Apprentice’s Tale sharing experience of life on the open sea and what it was like to be an apprentice on the Tall Ship, one of Scotland’s historic treasures; and Orkney  hosts the Map of Stories Film Ceilidh, an evening of multimedia, storytelling and live music.

9. Global Platform Online

Storytelling - Psyche and ErosOver the past two years the festival has enjoyed being part of a fantastic online storytelling community across the world – and they’d love to connect with you in their digital storytelling and development sessions. So whether you’re based in Scotland or further afield, let’s keep that fire lit on these global platforms. Amongst the digital showpiece events is Psyche and Eros a collaboration of story and music resonating with our modern lives; and in Global Lab we find an international exploration of oral storytelling, its interaction with cultural tradition, its ecological passions, social engagements and contemporary renaissance worldwide. In association with The Earth Stories Collection and Earth Charter International.

10. Festival Pass

And finally, if you're excited by all of these events, we'd encourage you to buy a Storytelling Festival Pass for £20 (£10) which will entitle you to:

  • Discounted tickets to the majority of Festival events at the Scottish Storytelling Centre (14-31 Oct)
  • Discounted tickets to all online Festival events across our Global Platform
  • 10% off in the Storytelling Centre Bookshop during SISF 2022
  • 10% off in the Haggis Box Cafe during SISF 2022
  • A Welcome Pack
  • If you attend 6 or more associated events your pass will pay for itself

That's just the tip of the iceberg and you can browse the full Scottish International Storytelling Festival programme HERE - and we look forward to seeing you in October [14 to 30].

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