Dark delights at the Storytelling Festival

As the nights draw in, and October moves towards its end, thoughts turn to the darker, spookier atmosphere inherent in the traditions of Samhain and Hallowe’en.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival (24 October – 2 November) thrives on such tales of the mysterious and supernatural, and this year’s lineup has plenty to chill the blood and get you checking under the bed, just in case…

Before the day itself, get in the mood for the season with Fiona Herbert's Witches Brew (Gladstone's Land, Royal Mile, Saturday 25 October, 2pm and 3pm, all ages, £8/£6). Fiona will take a look at Scotland's witches of old - were they healers, devil worshippers, gender rebels? The 17th century venue is the perfect location for this examination of the life and perils of witchcraft.

Friday 31st is when the fear factor really takes hold though, with a range of events celebrating, exploring and forewarning of the strange powers at work...

Haunted Tales of Old Edinburgh (Museum of Edinburgh, Chambers Street, Friday 31 October, 2pm, adults, free) with Royal Mile storyteller Calum Lykan, is a talk capturing the capital’s strange and gruesome history.

Meanwhile stories of the north and west, passed down since ancient times, are the basis of a development session led by the traditional Seanachaidh (storyteller) of Glendale, in Exploring Celtic Traditions with George MacPherson (Scottish Storytelling Centre, Royal Mile, Friday 31 October, 2pm, adults, £15/£12)

Magical, amazing creatures are encountered, and imagination transformed, later in the afternoon, with Linda Williamson's The Coming of the Unicorn and other Tales of Wonder (Scottish Storytelling Centre, Royal Mile, Friday 31 October, 4pm, adults and 8+, £7.50/£6)

Music, song and story combine as David Francis and Rachel Newton present Meeting the Fairies (Scottish Storytelling Centre, Royal Mile, Friday 31 October, 5pm, adults, £7.50/£6). This creepy yarn tells of the risks and opportunities inherent in human dealings with the Good Folk.

As darkness falls, enjoy Ballads and Tales of the Supernatural (Scottish Storytelling Centre, Royal Mile, Friday 31 October, 6.30pm, adults, £7.50/£6) performed by storytellers and singers Marion Kenny and Susanna Orr Holland, a chance to hear the old songs on the night of Samhain.

Elsewhere, Orkney’s Tom Muir hosts a special session of Edinburgh’s regular storytelling night in Grave Tales: Festival Guid Crack (Waverley Bar, St Mary's St, Friday 31 October, 7.30pm, adults, £3 donation requested). Gather in the circle to hear, or even tell, a tale in the warmth of this traditional Old Town pub.

And finally, Hallowe’en Hearth (Scottish Storytelling Centre, Royal Mile, Friday 31 October, 8pm, adults, £10/£8) gathers storytellers and musicians from across Scotland, and around the world, for a special evening around the hearth.


Hallowe'en not your thing?

There's plenty more to enjoy and appreciate at SISF14, including:

  • A series of events celebrating the 200th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott's debut novel, Waverley
  • Sessions themed around the Pacific, from New Zealand and the south seas to the western coast of Canada, via Robert Louis Stevenson and John Muir
  • A range of commemorative events in the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War
  • Urban and rural narratives of Europe, with guests and stories from Portugal, Italy, Wales and Germany
  • Tales, discussions and development sessions based on storytelling from across Scotland

Find out more about the Scottish International Storytelling Festival and prepare yourself for the richness, intimacy and wonder of the live storytelling experience!



  • Fiona Herbert - credit Scottish International Storytelling Festival
  • George MacPherson - credit Scottish International Storytelling Festival 
  • Rachel Newton  - credit Scottish International Storytelling Festival

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