Marking the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as a Festival City, SISF goes global and demonstrates how the traditional art of storytelling is more vital than ever in connecting people worldwide, across cultures, places and generations.
After traversing the world over the last 10 years, storytellers from all continents have been invited to Scotland to explore together the storyteller’s role in the contemporary world.
34 invited guests and groups representing 27 countries will join Scotland’s storytellers in the world’s leading festival city, as well as travelling throughout Scotland to connect with local communities and Scotland’s rich folk traditions.
Below is a smidgen of some of the wonderful events on offer and if it’s looking like there are lots you don’t want to miss out on – make sure you book a Festival Supporter Pass for discounts!
Wednesday 25 – Friday 27 October
For the first time, the SISF hosts a Gathering of storytelling activists. Linking to the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as a Festival City and the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, it will explore the important heritage of the Festival alongside looking forward to the future of storytelling. Based on the themes of the Earth Charter initiative, the Gathering will include a conference with national and international guest contributors and training workshops.
Worldwide Storytelling and Open Hearth
Immerse yourself in our sessions dedicated to international storytellers, traversing a universal landscape from New Zealand to Sub-Saharan Africa, Ireland to Singapore, and hear folk tales from around the world.
The tradition of our Open Hearth evening events continue this year, linking to the traditional Scottish ceilidh of welcome, hosted by Scottish storytellers with international guests and musicians adding to the atmospheric evenings.
On Monday 23 October, two sessions for teachers and educators aim to inspire and rejuvenate with a practical workshop highlighting how storytelling can support learning in a school context with Storytelling in Schools: Beyond Performance as well as exploring the role of culture in contemporary education in partnership with the National Library of Scotland.
Storytelling has a special affinity with literature, reflected in our programme drawing inspiration from writers, novels and poets. Mercat Tours have commissioned a special story walk celebrating Edinburgh as a place that has inspired novelists for centuries; poet Ken Cockburn leads a panel discussion and a tour introducing the story makers which helped build the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature; and novels get the spoken word treatment, with Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives presented by Kenyan storyteller Maimouna Jallow and Wu Cheng'en’s 16th century publication Journey to the West is presented by Chinese storyteller Ma Wei and Glasgow based Chinese storyteller Fong Liu.
Focused on the first and last weekend of the festival, with plenty of free and drop in options for busy families. Highlights include a magical storytelling show from Poland’s Pinokio Theatre and a fun workshop on Polish folktales, our Wee Folk Magic day featuring seven Scottish storytellers and our annual Enchanted Garden large scale storytelling in situ at the Royal Botanic Garden.
The Festival encourages all communities to get involved with storytelling through our Outreach campaign, to bring communities together for participative events with connections to Scottish traditions.
Keep an eye out for Guisers Galore in partnership with the Museum of Childhood, and The Devil and the Clutch of Fools: A Spontaneous Marathon of Halloween Storytelling promises to be an exciting culmination of 12 hours non-stop storytelling for All Hallows' Eve!
Plus, celebrations in Leith come together on 29 October as Leith Community Croft, St James Church Hall and Trinity House celebrate diverse, vibrant culture with food, stories, music and dance, as well as international guest participations.
Storytelling is play; it responds in the moment and can be utilised many ways.
New ways of working with stories is showcased in Lost Tales Live by Travis De Vries who pairs visual art, music, writing and storytelling all linking to Aboriginal myths, while Be United present South African dancers and interactive contemporary life stories in Champions’ Tale – A South African Story.
Plus, Tongue Tied & Twisted – Indian Tales: Contemporary Twist fuses traditional Indian storytelling with Urban Hip Hop to bridge generational and cultural gaps.