LIVE events are still on the cards for this year's Scottish International Storytelling Festival which will return to Edinburgh, bringing with it old Scottish oral traditions and a wide array of culture.

One of the 12 Edinburgh Festivals, it is the first that is planning to host live events in 2020.

While they are subject to government guidelines, the the programme of 93 events is a mix between online and in person events expanding across Scotland with events taking place in Dumfries, Findhorn, Orkney, Alloa, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Aberfeldy and the Borders.

Some 43 of these planned to be "in-person experiences" subject to Covid-19 guidelines.

The theme for this year's festival which began back in 1989 is In The Flow - and promises an eclectic mix of online events spanning across the globe and small-scale face-to-face events, celebrating Scotland ‘a nation shaped by the sea’.

The organiser say the events shine a light on lost stories of Scottish and international culture, give a new perspective on historical experiences and captivate, entertain and educate audiences on everything from Scottish colonial history to our connection to the natural world.


Over 100 performers will take part in the festival which will run from October 17 to 31 and countries represented include USA, Colombia, Canada, Italy, Spain, England, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Holland, Iran, Sierra Leone and Iceland.

With a dedicated strand of shows linked to the Year of Coasts and Waters called Voyage, there's stories inspired by the myths connected to the third largest whirlpool in the world at Corryvreckan, Scots Antarctic Explorer William Bruce, the first Queen of Scotland's arrival from Norway and a reimagining of Scotland's most famous travel guide the 1785 Tour to the Hebrides.

The festival will feature Voyage, a series of new work developed by storytellers and musicians for VisitScotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, supported by the Scottish Government Festival Expo Fund. Premiered as a pre-recorded studio broadcasts to be streamed online , Voyage is a collection of fourteen performances by Scotland based storytellers sharing tales of real and imaginary voyages that have connected Scotland to other coastal countries, near and far.

Speaking at the Festival launch Scottish International Storytelling Festival Director Donald Smith said: "Stories and songs are vital for human survival. They carry our emotions, memories and values. They bind us together as families, communities and a nation, especially through tough times. The Scottish International Storytelling Festival will continue to channel that flow with an increased focus on wellbeing in the year of Covid-19."

Award winning performers featuring include Apphia Campbell and Mara Menzies who collaborate for the first time on Nanny of the Maroons sharing the story of the Jamaican hero Queen Nanny, leader of the known as the Windward Maroons who helped those fleeing enslavement on Scottish owned plantations.


One of Scotland’s best loved storytellers Andy Cannon steps over 700 years back in time as he sets out on a journey to bring the first ruling Queen of the Scots from Norway to Edinburgh Castle in Tales of a Grandson: The Maid of Norway.

Donald Smith’s reimagining of the iconic travelogue Johnson and Boswell’s Tour to the Hebrides will feature leading actors Andy Cannon and Christopher Craig.

And storyteller Nicola Wright revives the 'almost forgotten' Scottish national antarctic expedition by explorer William Speirs Bruce whose success was "ignored" by the Royal Geographic Society.

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “During this challenging time living with the impacts of coronavirus, storytelling and music have never been so important to our resilience, our wellbeing and our sense of belonging.

“I’m also pleased that in connecting people and communities with culture in new and inclusive ways, Storytelling Festival is continuing Scottish festivals’ proud traditions of innovation and creativity.”