Scottish International Storytelling Festival

Let your imagination run wild at the Storytelling Festival.

Ossian Supper Credit Scottish International Storytelling Festival

Are you sitting comfortably...? Then we'll begin.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival runs from 13 – 30 October 2023.

As autumn descends over Edinburgh, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival provides a providing cosy haven from the colder, darker weather outside, while often echoing it through spellbinding tales of darkness and light.

Claire Mcnicol Credit Solen Collet[Image credit: Solen Collet]

About the Scottish International Storytelling Festival

SISF both celebrates and helps preserve the proud tradition of oral storytelling handed down through the generations, with audience involvement and shared experience a key component of the festivities. 

Expert storytellers command the attention of the room as they weave their tales of life and love, magic and mystery in a setting akin to a community gathering. Often accompanied by live musicians, tellers transport their audiences to other times and places through little more than the power of the imagination and their skill with the spoken word.

Maramenzies Shares Stories At The Guid Crack Club Credit Peter Dibdin[Image credit: Peter Dibdin]

History of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival

Established in 1989, the festival has grown from strength to strength.

In its first year, SISF welcomed 700 attendees – by 2017 over 27,000 people took part in the assorted events throughout Scotland.

The main venue is the Netherbow Theatre at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, with partner venues in the city including Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland and Museums & Galleries Edinburgh.

Scottish International Storytelling Festival Kids

Stories and legends

The Festival runs for just under two weeks each October and culminates on or close to Halloween and the related Celtic celebration of Samhuinn, marking the end of summer and the start of the year’s darker period. And while not all tales told are of the supernatural, there’s an enticingly dark tenor to much of the programme which will thrill and intrigue those lucky enough to be present.

Scottish tradition is just part of what the Storytelling Festival has to offer though, as guests from across the world share stories and legends of their own lands. This internationalism further enriches the Festival, particularly at the many cross-cultural events which offer a platform for the sharing and melding of traditional cultures.

The Festival also goes beyond the experience of live storytelling, with opportunities to take part in workshops, guided tours of Edinburgh’s famously atmospheric old streets, and a range of activities for families to enjoy.

So, if you’re thinking of a city break to Edinburgh, consider visiting in autumn to experience thrilling and mysterious worlds hidden from our view, yet made real by the power of a tale well told.


This page was created in collaboration with our friends at Festivals Edinburgh.

Edinburgh has a jam-packed festival schedule all year around. Whether you love the arts, are mad about science, or relish the thought of getting lost in a good book, there’s a festival for you. Take a look at our guide to Edinburgh’s Festivals >