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Tradition goes live in Edinburgh, with an annual showcase of Traditional Arts and Culture in Scotland’s capital.

'a finger on the national pulse.' (fRoots)

'an extraordinarily full and varied 12 days and nights.' (Living Tradition)

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Edinburgh’s TradFest kick starts the summer season with a feast of music, storytelling, dance, folk drama, folk film, literature & talks, crafts & visual arts in Scotland’s capital. Over 12 days, in 25 venues and with more than 90 events, this blaze of contemporary colour is inspired by the traditions of May Day and Beltane, showcasing Celtic arts and cultural traditions with a contemporary spin.

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The fantastic programme for 2016 includes:


Òrain Gàidhlig / Gaelic song

The TradFest opening concert features three award-winning acts at the heart of the thriving contemporary Gaelic music scene: folk band Dàimh (pictured), electro group Niteworks and hip-hop artist Griogair Labhruidh. Later in the festival, James MacDonald Reid leads a session on Gaelic poetry and song, and group Huradal lead TradBeats, a journey from the Scottish Highlands to Nova Scotia through Gaelic mouth music, step dance, beatboxing and body percussion.

Folklore & Mythology

Folklore is a never-ending source of fascination and inspiration for storytellers around the globe. Hear stories of Beltane and the fairies in Riders of the Sidhe, or discover The Two Truths of Thomas the Rhymer. Ana Lines, Claire McNicol and Mara Menzies (pictured) will be exploring the gods and goddesses of foreign lands in The Magical Fusion; Beverley Bryant will be joined by musicians for an evening of otherworldly tales from around Scotland in When Shall We Three Meet Again; and David Brown shares Three Pictish Tales from across the British Isles.

American connections

Scotland’s cultural and historical connections with North America are explored in three multifaceted events. Alan Reid and Rob van Sante present The Adventures of John Paul Jones, a multimedia show inspired by the Dumfriesshire-born sailor who became a hero for the American Colonists in their Revolutionary War. Wayfaring Strangers shares stories and songs of Scots who braved the Atlantic to resettle in the United States between the 17th and 19th centuries. Finally, we follow Scottish-American naturalist John Muir through America’s natural parks in Discover Wild America with John Muir.

Neil Gunn

Born in Caithness, novelist and dramatist Neil Gunn was one of Scotland’s most prominent and – as can be seen in the TradFest line-up – influential writers. This year’s programme includes three tributes to the author: musician Mike Vass (pictured) performs a captivating multimedia show inspired by a sea voyage made by Gunn in 1937; Adrift tells a tale of community and identity, inspired by his short stories; and George Gunn showcases the cultural riches of Caithness in The Province of the Cat, following in Neil Gunn’s footsteps.

Family events

You’re never too young to begin appreciating the traditional arts, and TradFest features a number of events to get the little ones involved. Artie Trezise, creator and former star of the iconic Singing Kettle, joins us for stories and songs with a Scottish accent in Tartan Tales; the wonderful Macastory (pictured) tell gruesome tales of plague and pestilence at the National Library of Scotland, while here at the Centre we host a Family Ceilidh that’s sure to get all toes tapping!

Getting out and about

Join Donald Smith for a Dawn Rising walk up Arthur’s Seat on 1 May (pictured), such an ancient tradition that no one knows when it began. Hear Poems on the Canongate, told by Ken Cockburn, as you weave in and out of the Royal Mile’s gardens and closes. Discover the hidden history of the city’s industrial past as you Walk the Union Canal and Meanwhile Garden, or follow the pulse of Old Edinburgh on the TradFest Trail Tour with Stuart McHardy.

Sounds of Scotland and beyond

Though rooted in the past, traditional music is constantly changing, often drawing inspiration from foreign styles and contemporary genres. Discover Scottish music with an international flavour at performances from Moishe’s Bagel, a folk five-piece who blend Balkan, Middle Eastern and Celtic sounds; Clype, a stripped-back experiment fusing styles from around the globe; Gol (pictured), a Scottish-Iranian group who incorporate film and dance into their live shows; or award-winning singer Gerda Stevenson, who encompasses styles from folk to swing.

Other events include exhibitions, craft sessions, talks, ceilidhs, dance events, and a wide range of workshops. Browse all events here and discover the riches of traditional arts in Scotland at TradFest 2016.

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Tradfest 2016

Wed 27 Apr – Sun 8 May