Going global: Storytelling Festival begins with a welcome to the world

Councillor Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s Culture and Communities Convener, joined the opening reception of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival on Friday 20 October to welcome storytellers from across six continents to Edinburgh.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is the world’s largest celebration of live, traditional storytelling. Taking place as the seasons change in Scotland’s stunning capital city, and reaching out across the nation, Scottish tellers merge with invited guests in celebration of oral traditions and cultural diversity.  

In this 70th anniversary year for Edinburgh as a Festival City, over 90 performers across 30 countries showcase the magic of storytelling from its traditional roots through to contemporary approaches with 69 events in Edinburgh and 29 events across Scotland, from Glasgow to Orkney. 

Donald Smith, Director of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, said: "This year’s Storytelling Festival is a global first for Scotland. We are making Edinburgh the world’s storytelling capital. Storytelling connects across borders of culture, race, class, religion and politics. This year’s Festival shows what a connected kind of place Scotland has always been and highlights Edinburgh’s international reputation of welcome and hospitality."

Councillor 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."

The Festival events in Edinburgh and ‘On Tour’ across Scotland build on ten years of support from the Scottish Government Festival Expo Fund, Creative Scotland, Festivals Edinburgh and the City of Edinburgh Council.

During the past decade, SISF has hosted storytellers from across the continent, but this year instead of focusing on one geographical area, guest artists are coming from across the globe to be together in one place and at one time, Edinburgh, as Scotland approaches the traditional storytelling season of Hallowe’en.

In addition to a panoply of events featuring Scottish and guest storytellers, there will be a three-day Global Gathering, held at the Dovecot Studios, 25-27 October. This will focus on how storytellers can contribute to the values and principles of The Earth Charter Initiative, under three banners – Storytelling with Nature, Peace with Justice, and Storytelling for Hope.

The Gathering is a distinctive contribution to the 70th anniversary celebration, recalling the original purpose of the Festival City as a place of peace and reconciliation after World War II.

In a new development, supported by Edinburgh City Council and Festivals Edinburgh, SISF will have a thirty-strong team of Festival Volunteers. These will include ‘Storyguides’ who will train in how to use ‘stories on location’ to enhance Edinburgh for Festival visitors.  This will enrich their experience but also foster the skills and pride of Edinburgh citizens.

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