An autumnal chill in the air used to mark the time of year people would gather around the fireplace in the quietening dark to entertain each other with stories. It’s a tradition that’s blooming at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, which this October marks its 30th year.
From 19 to 31 October, the Scottish Storytelling Centre (SSC) and various other Scottish sites will come alive as expert storytellers from home and away weave their magic, holding audiences spellbound in a narrative thrall. Audiences can delight in storytelling, family events, talks, tours, delivered by artists from Sierra Leone to South America, India to Iran. In total 96 Scottish Storytellers will be joined by 18 global guests to orate and create tales thrilling and sad, hilarious and haunting.
This year’s theme – Growing Stories – draws parallels between the way we cultivate a garden, and how we tend to and grow our narrative traditions.
Tales to warm the heart
For those new to the festival, the ‘Open Hearth’ evenings provide a perfect introduction. Each night of the festival, at the SSC, a Scottish storyteller hosts a selection of guests, to weave traditional tales from their homelands. The ‘Meet the Storyteller’ series also provides fascinating insights and personal experiences of storytelling.
A Celtic Connection
The ‘Scotland & Ireland’ series is a showcase of 12 events exploring the shared traditions of Scotland and Ireland, with a focus on the legends of Ossian, Fionn Mac Cumhaill and Cú Chulainn. From warriors and wild women, to the Amazonian Queen of Skye, to depictions of life and death, uncover the connections between Irish and Scottish folk tale. And the series finishes in fine fashion at the SSC with the ‘Ossian Supper’ – a feast to celebrate the ancient bard.
Wonders for the weans
At ‘Giants’ Alice Fernbank and Svend-Erik Engh explore the mythology and folklore of giants, from their rise to their demise and gradual departure for the earth – perfect for young and old alike.
Meanwhile, at ‘Guisers Galore’ young ones can come along to learn a poem and a dance in preparation for authentic Halloween guiding, or explore ‘Family Samhuinn’ with an afternoon of stories and games reflecting the changing seasons.
Murder in the Jacobite aristocracy
Few families from the Jacobite history intrigue more than the Chiesleys of Dalry, an aristocratic bunch guilty of treacherous conspiracy, boasting a murderous father and a scandalous daughter. At ‘Gunpowder, Treason & Jacobite Plot: Lady Grange and the Chiesleys of Dalry’ attendees can visit their 17th century seat and hear musical tales of their misdeeds.
With 66 events in Edinburgh and 27 throughout Scotland, this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival promises something for everyone.
For more information or to book, visit the website