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Storytelling Festival Opening Weekend

Amy Mcneese Mechan - Edinburgh City Council Culture & Communities Committee, Donald Wilson - Culture and Communities Convener, Ruth Kirkpatrick - Scottish Storytelling Forum Chair, Seung-Ah Kim - Korean Storyteller and Ken Shapley, Scottish Storytelling Forum. Picture by Colin Hattersley.

Donald Smith, Festival Director The Scottish International Storytelling Festival has begun showcasing a wealth of riches from Scotland's traditional arts with international contexts.

This weekend, the Festival hosted an opening reception for its visiting storytellers, delegates and guests and revelled in the sheer pleasure of traditional live storytelling from Edinburgh, dubbed the “Storytelling Capital of the World” by Festival Director Donald Smith, who reminded all in attendance that without the storytellers, we wouldn’t have a festival.

Councillor Donald Wilson was there for the event, and enjoyed a visit to The Netherbow Bell, the old city ringer with Festival co-champion Amy Mcneese-Mechan and some of the Festival performers. The Bell is a current article in the Edinburgh 101 Objects Campaign, which rang out loudly on Friday evening, signalling the start of 12 days exploring storytelling across six continents.  

Warmth at the receptionCouncillor Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s Culture and Communities Convener, said:

'Inspired by the Scottish ceilidh tradition of togetherness and community gatherings, this year’s Storytelling Festival connects people from all continents through music, tales, talks and workshops.

‘As the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature and birthplace of many of Scotland and the world’s greatest writers and performers, Edinburgh is synonymous with fantastic stories. Join us this autumn to enjoy them.’

While Scottish tradition is always close to our heart, international spoken word culture is held in equally high esteem, as the Festival allows us to explore and celebrate the cross-cultural blends that make storytelling so widespread and beloved, which was showcased in the event Mobile Dreams on Friday evening featuring the 3Troubadors Markus Luukkonen (Finland), Tom Van Outryve (Belgium) and Torgrim Mellum Stene (Norway) which was live streamed with over 2,000 people hearing their fantastic collection of tales from their travels (see video below).

Ken Cockburn Poetry TourAcross the weekend – the Storytelling Centre and Museum of Childhood were packed with families for Wee Folk Magic with wonderful sessions of interactive play, two walks throughout the city were enjoyed, tailored by partners City of Literature and Mercat Tours, who return with their event From Edinburgh's Pen to the World next weekend.

Sunday was dominated by The Enchanted Garden with tales throughout Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Tom Muir impressed with his great Orkney saga of Magnus and there was a beautiful Open Hearth session featuring Marion Kenny as host with international guests from India joining her for a traditional session of tunes and tales.

The Enchanted Garden at Royal BotanicThere’s still plenty to get involved with so check the events and get booked in for transporting stories to life you out of everyday mundanity.

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Main Pic LtR: Amy Mcneese Mechan - Edinburgh City Council Culture & Communities Committee, Donald Wilson - Culture and Communities Convener, Ruth Kirkpatrick - Scottish Storytelling Forum Chair, Seung-Ah Kim - Korean Storyteller and Ken Shapley, Scottish Storytelling Forum. Picture by Colin Hattersley.