Scottish International Storytelling Festival

Let your imagination run wild at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin....

Open Hearth Ludovic Farine

(Image Credit:  Ludovic Farine)

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival runs from 13 - 29 October 2023.

As autumn descends over Edinburgh, The Scottish International Storytelling Festival provides a cosy haven from the cold, dark weather outside.

About the Scottish International Storytelling Festival

Storytelling Festival 2018 Colin Hattersley(Image Credit: Colin Hattersley)

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival both celebrates and preserves the proud tradition of oral storytelling handed down through the generations, with audience involvement and shared experience a key component of the Festival.

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


History of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival

Stone Soup Ceilidh Ludovic Farine(Image Credit:  Ludovic Farine)

Established in 1989, the Festival has grown from strength to strength. In its first year it welcomed 700 attendees. By 2022, audience numbers had reached 39,862.

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.


Stories and legends

SISF 06 Credit Ruth Armstrong(Image Credit: Ruth Armstrong)

The Festival runs for just under two weeks each October and culminates on or close to Halloween and the related Celtic celebration of Samhuinn,  which marks the end of summer and the start of winter. 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 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 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 family-friendly activities.

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


2023 - ‘Right To Be Human’

Marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the theme for 2023 is ‘Right To Be Human’

Encompassing the wider storytelling and creative community, this year’s programme will celebrate and explores all aspects of our common humanity.

Keep an eye on their website and social channels for announcements of the full programme.

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 >