TradFest 2018: Passing It On! Experience & Celebrate Tradition with a Contemporary Spin – Grounded in Scotland’s Heritage

In its fifth edition, TradFest Edinburgh • Dùn Èideann returns as Edinburgh’s only multi-arts festival dedicated to traditional folk arts, showcasing culture, live.

From award-winning folksters to the freshest faces on the Scottish traditional scene, TradFest showcases international acts alongside local talent, filling Scotland’s capital with music, song, dance, film and stories.

Taking place between 26 April and 6 May with over 80 events across 27 Edinburgh venues (the hub is the Scottish Storytelling Centre), residents and visitors are welcome to enjoy a hive of activity inspired by and coinciding with Beltane and May Day, igniting ancestry with vibrant cultural creativity.

Performers from Sweden, India, Finland, the USA and Ireland will join top Scottish talent to create a vibrant and exciting 11-day festival featuring concerts, talks ruminating aspects of Scotland’s intangible cultural heritage, storytelling sessions revelling in mystical folklore, traditional dance displays and sessions, walking tours, visual arts and film screenings.

Daniel Abercrombie, TradFest Programme Manager, states:

The foundation of Scotland’s cultural heritage and national identity is traditional arts. TradFest is a genuine, dynamic festival experience led by the communities and cultures which celebrate traditional arts all year round.

Communities are bound by the stories and music that surround them and TradFest presents an explosion of culture to enjoy, ensuring Scotland’s traditions are kept alive and inherent in how its future is shaped, allowing our heritage to flourish and shape Scotland’s culture for generations.’

family Beltane

Scotland’s Year of Young People

Showcasing the new generation in Scottish traditional arts and the lineage of their inspiration, TradFest kicks off with it’s opening concert, ‘Passing It On’, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre for Scotland’s Year of Young People.

The Scottish custom of handing down a song, tune, story or dance to the next generation at social gatherings is marked at this celebration, with some of Scotland’s fresh new talent performing alongside the artists who have inspired them. This will include the fiddle talents of Ryan Young, with Marie Fielding, Brighde Chaimbeul and Fin Moore on the small pipes, SIAN and Christine Primrose performing Gaelic song, and Jo De Geer with Dannsa performing step dance.

To usher in the Year of Young People, BE United, Leith Primary School and Citadel Youth Centre have joined forces to offer a day of activities led by young people and for young people, at ‘Nations United – Daytime: A Cultural Journey in the Heart of Edinburgh’, while Sangstream folk choir explore contemporary and traditional song, highlighting the diverse life experiences of children and young people at ‘Aspects of Youth’.

David Francis hosts a debate with Findlay Napier and Shona Thomson at the National Library exploring the effect of social media on culture, identity and belonging in ‘Digital Natives?’, while Musician Kirsty Law showcases her new album ‘Young Night Thought’, which is a collaboration with filmmaker Daniel Warren and painter Kirsty Whiten, sharing – through a lens of Scots folklore – a dialogue around childhood perception, imagination and play.

Plus, there’s opportunities for little ones to embrace the joy of trad arts with a ‘Family Ceilidh’, ‘Artie’s Tartan Tales’ and a ‘Family Beltane’ day.

Ryan Young ft. Jenn Butterworth

Music at the Pleasance

The Pleasance is a venue steeped in Old Town and Southside tradition, with performances in the Theatre and Cabaret Bar, co-curated by The Soundhouse Organisation and Edinburgh Folk Club.

There’s a stellar line-up of talent  to enjoy including Scots Trad Music Awards 2016 ‘Up and Coming Artist of the Year’ Ryan Young ft. Jenn Butterworth, fusions of funky mbalax and Afrobeat grooves from Samba Sene & Diwan, fiddling finesse from RANT with support from Vermont’s Young Tradition Touring Group, a taster of a new E.P. from rising young collective Gnoss and Shooglenifty return to the live gigging scene with new member, Eilidh Shaw and a party atmosphere guaranteed as they share new tunes beside plenty of old favourites.

Dance Your Story

International Dance Day at the Pleasance

International Dance Day aims to celebrate dance by revelling in the universality of the art form and its ability to bring people together.

TradFest takes over the Pleasance for International Dance Day (29 April) to share workshops and performance, allowing participants to enjoy dance in many forms and share in the joy of dance with others.

Participate in welcoming workshops exploring ‘Nathaniel Gow Quadrilles’, ‘Irish Set Dancing’, ‘Highland Dance’ and how to ‘Dance Your Story’ with Pirita Tuisku.

Pirita returns in the evening for a humourous and heartfelt dance journey highlighting ‘Single Life’ woes in today’s modern world, alongside fellow singleton Amy Robertson, then respected Appalachian step dancer Nic Gareiss, takes the rhythmic foreground at ‘This is How We Fly’, redefining and renewing step dance for a modern audience.

Scott Murray

Traditional Arts at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

The Scottish Storytelling Centre is a hub for Scotland’s traditional arts and the home of TRACS. It’s the TradFest melting pot for song, story, music and dance crossover, presenting opportunities for artists to come together and explore cultural traditions with a contemporary spin.

From daytime sessions, like ‘Lift Up Your Voice’ with Scott Murray and Ruth Kirkpatrick to fascinating music collectives –  ‘A Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick’ will bring the annals of Highland clan history to life and ‘The Rymours’ with Ewan McVicar, Christine Kydd and Scott Gardiner – there’s music and song opportunities aplenty, plus concert opportunities with Brighde Chaimbeul ft. Aidan O’RourkeRob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra and a welcome return from old time roots collective Sheesham and Lotus & ‘Son.

Storytelling takes Centre stage too, with a great selection of historical explorations and mythological fun including tales of ‘Giants’ from two very tall storytellers, Alice Fernbank and Svend-Erik Engh, Finnish & Perthshire tales partner up in ‘Journeys: The Women Who Made the Mountains Sing’, dark ancestral secrets are brought to the fore by Dougie Mackay and Daniel Serridge in ‘Kin: Fortune, Feuds & The Family Tree’ and anarchic tales from around the world are shared through the fascinating character of ‘Robin Hood: Riot, Rant & Rebellion!

the gathering

TradFest in the Town

Edinburgh is buzzing with traditional arts and culture. Don’t miss out on a TradFest meander through Edinburgh with themed tours for those who want to explore a cultural angle on Scotland’s capital. Storyteller Jane Mather leads two story walks, exploring Braid Hills and Arthur’s Seat – two of Edinburgh’s Seven Hills, presenting an enticing mix of fanciful tales and folklore with geology and heritage, while admired poetry leader Ken Cockburn leads a tour full of prose exploring Edinburgh’s Old Town links to Bonnie Prince Charlie in ‘Ye Jacobites By Name: A Royal Mile Poetry Walk’.

TradFest venues range from the classical lines of the renowned Queen’s Hall, who host worldwide sensations Väsen, an assembly of musical masterminds at Duncan Chisholm’s The Gathering’ and Drake Music Scotland’s 20th Anniversary Concert, through to the ever expanding Summerhall, showcasing Edinburgh Ceilidh Club and a Mediterraneo Event incorporating a film screening of ‘Assunta Spina’, with a live score performed by The Badwills, followed by a ceilidh to dance the night away!

Besides the large-scale, there’s the opportunity to enjoy events up close in more intimate venues such as The Royal Oak, home of the Wee Folk Club, who host fife duo The Coaltown Daisies and Barbara Nesbitt, who brings a taste of Georgia, USA to this intimate venue.

A series of talks at the National Library of Scotland explores ‘The Culture Word –Unpacked’ including insights into prehistoric Scotland, famous sons Burns, Tannahill and Henderson, and the co-operative movement in Scotland and looking at Scotland’s future history. Plus, plenty at Blackwell’s Bookshop, including Edinburgh-based a cappella trio Simmerdim who ‘Celebrate Scotland’s Stories’ and Marjory Harper explores ‘Voices from the Scottish Diaspora’.

Plus, we bring in the Summer with celebrations for May Day with the annual Beltane Fire Festival (30 April) and the annual May Day Parade & Rally (5 May), where TradFest takes up the rear of the parade revelry, with all encouraged to join the merry band celebrating the arrival of spring.

Folk Film

Folk Film Gathering

Running in conjunction with TradFest, Transgressive North is running the 4th Folk Film Gathering, the world’s first festival of folk cinema, at the Filmhouse Edinburgh, plus special events at the Storytelling Centre and Summerhall, from 27 April to 12 May.

Focussing on ‘A Sense of Place’, it will feature films from Scotland, England, Italy, France, Alaska and Scandinavia, exploring the connection between communities and the landscapes in which they live, as well presenting its first ‘Film Ceilidh’ evening, showcasing a mix  of Scottish shorts that highlight the poetic, political and spiritual approaches to how we see place in cinema.

It will also examine and expand the definition of folk – as a living tradition, people’s history, working class culture, or political movement, emphasised with live prelude performances at screenings from a wealth of folk talent.

Get close to the heartbeat of a city impassioned by tradition and enjoy this final farewell for Edinburgh’s traditional arts festival. Due to the 23% reduction in funding support from Creative Scotland to TRACS, Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland will be unable to organise and promote TradFest in the future.


Further Information, Images, Press Tickets & Event Contacts:
Lindsay Corr | Marketing & Communications Manager

0131 652 3272