David Campbell shares a tale with Ida White and Cameron Taylor_Credit Colin Hattersley

Storytelling Festival continues growth in 2015

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival enjoyed another fantastic edition in 2015, with early figures once again showing growth in participation: 26,000 people joined in the country’s largest celebration of spoken word, devouring tales in theatres, gardens, zoos, canal boats and beyond.

“If you thought that August was the only month that Edinburgh has top quality international festivals then you would be wrong.” (TVBomb)

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Jack MartinEdinburgh paved the way for a colourful mosaic of stories, with 48 varied events taking place in the capital, while 26 ‘Festival on Tour’ events delighted communities across Scotland and gave visiting performers the chance to see more of the country.

Donald Smith, Director of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, states:

This has been a fantastic year for the Storytelling Festival, which gave both visitors and locals a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the extraordinary stories, music and characters that bring both our contemporary and traditional culture to life.

The fantastic line-up included a total of 115 performers, with international guests representing North African and Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Cyprus and Israel/Palestine. These global guests were joined by Scottish storytellers hailing from the length and breadth of the country, from Dumfries to Orkney.

Taking “Stories without Borders” as its theme, the Festival’s events explored the geographical, political and cultural borders between individuals. From Iran vs Israel to Syrian Journeys, many events offered the chance to reflect on the basic aspects of human nature that have had the power to bring people together since the beginning of time.

The “without borders” theme also allowed the Storytelling Festival to collaborate further with new partners. The capital itself was the stage for tales of all types, with storytelling taking place in locations such as Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Dovecot Studios, Gorgie City Farm and on a Re-Union canal boat, not to mention amongst the various nooks and crannies of the Royal Mile.

Family SamhuinnAt the Centre – the Festival’s main hub – events such as Stories without Borders in a Digital World or Stories without Borders: Film & Literature challenged perceptions of storytelling by exploring the many guises it can take, especially in the age of technology.

Scottish traditions and history were explored in performances including Leirsinn; Seeing and The Acts of the Rebels, but also intertwined with foreign tales in Open Hearth sessions and other events – an excellent example of how storytelling can connect between cultures and across borders to create something meaningful and new.

Organisers were delighted with the public response to the events, with visitor numbers exceeding last year’s and confirming the demand for rich traditions in the 21st century. It provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on humanity, forever torn between the tendency to create boundaries and divisions, but also carry within itself the equally powerful need to share experiences and learn from them.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival returns Friday 21 – Sunday 30 October 2016 and will be exploring The Right to Dream.

Mohammed and Marion


“The strongest element of storytelling is that it overturns accepted norms. What a good story does is ask you to see the world through different eyes.” (Martin Palmer)

“The art of storytelling is communication. Most of us live a life of radio, television and films, and to be able to talk to people, person to person, at events such as the Scottish Storytelling Festival, is very important.” (Jack Martin)

“Stories can teach you to survive day to day, whether that’s getting from a cup of coffee to your job or travelling from where you are right now to 5,000 years into your past.” (Coral Mallow)

“Narrative and meaning cuts through any differences we have and it speaks to some sort of fundamental humanity.” (Daniel Serridge)

“Magical, original, friendly, entertaining, significant, inspiring.” (Ana Lines)

“Friendly, accessible, important, homely, surprising, lovely. “ (Philip Knight)

“Each one of us tells stories every day; it’s what makes us human.” (Marion Kenny)