About the Festival

The Story of the Storytelling Festival

Great stories well told can evoke indelible images in the mind of the listener, offering visitors and locals a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the extraordinary tales, music and characters that bring both our contemporary and traditional culture to life.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival brings together a large number of Scottish and international storytellers and musicians. It takes place in October each year, as the seasons change with long nights drawing families and friends around the hearth, inspired by the Scottish ceilidh tradition and its sense of togetherness – a community gathering full of tales, anecdotes, music, songs and ballads.

Performance, workshops, talks and children’s events radiate out from Scotland’s capital, as the best of Scotland’s storytelling talent merge with invited global guests, offering a plethora of opportunities to celebrate and discover oral traditions and cultural diversity.

  • Storytelling is not a form of theatre – of course its entertainment, but it’s not a passive art form. The audience are part of the performance.
  • Expect to be put in a relaxed frame of mind and enjoy a blend of story and music.
  • The imagination of the audience is central to the performance and is what creates the true storytelling experience.
  • Although each event has a structure, there will always be an informal and improvised element, which is the beauty of live storytelling, echoing the old Traveller proverb that ‘a story is told eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart’.
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Edinburgh & Beyond

SISF for the majority takes place in and around Edinburgh. The main venue is the Netherbow Theatre at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, with partner venues in the city including Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the National Library of Scotland and Museums & Galleries Edinburgh.

The programme provides diverse events, for those completely new to storytelling through to guests wanting to develop their storytelling skill, ranging from nightly storytelling sessions for adults to professional development talks and workshops.

The programme also includes the popular Festival on Tour stand, which brings visiting international storytellers and their stories to Scottish regions and islands so they can embrace and discover Scotland’s communities.

There is also the opportunity to “do it yourself” with the SISF Community Programme, to inspire everyone to enjoy and embrace storytelling.

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Audience Experience

‘The workshops were well organised and very informative. Loved the storytelling performances – a window into different traditions and contemporary issues.’

‘Totally different performances and so much talent, all moved me to laugh and cry.’

‘Amazing storytelling at its best – engaging, moving, emotional and funny. More please!’

‘A tremendous celebration of Scottish storytelling and of the world wide connections which storytelling can bring’

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Did you know?

• The Scottish International Storytelling Festival has been running since 1989; 2019 will be the 31st Festival.

• The first official Festival welcomed 700 attendees, compared to 2017 when over 27,000 people took part in the Scottish International Storytelling Festival throughout Scotland.

• Storytellers David Campbell and Seoras Macpherson have performed in every Storytelling Festival since its conception.

Festivals Edinburgh

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is proud to be part of Festivals Edinburgh.

Building on a culture of collaborative working, the Directors of Edinburgh’s leading Festivals came together in 2007 to formally establish Festivals Edinburgh with a mission to support Edinburgh’s Festivals in sustaining and developing their position as the world’s leading festival city through the development and delivery of collaborative projects and initiatives which support growth, product development, leadership and audiences acting on behalf of and representing the collective strengths of Edinburgh.

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