SCOTLAND is a nation of storytellers.

From tall tales to fantastic fables, from hair-raising yarns passed down through the generations to new narratives which reflect the changing nature of a diverse country, Scotland’s stories capture the rich history and culture of all its communities.

Every nook and cranny from the Highlands to the Borders has its own literary heritage, and to celebrate, 2022 has been declared Scotland’s Year of Stories.

This nationwide celebration for locals and visitors alike comprises an exciting programme of events and activities, with communities coming together to tell the tales which matter to them in a variety of clever and creative ways.

 

Young people, refugees, the LGBTQ+ community and island dwellers will be among those bringing Scotland’s distinct culture to life, and stories old and new will be narrated in the many languages – including English, Gaelic, Scots, Arabic and British Sign Language – spoken by people who call this country home.

Stories written or created in, and inspired by, this land are at the heart of a series of events in community centres, museums, libraries, cultural hubs and visitor attractions throughout the year.

Tales about the lives and works of iconic Scots, Scotland’s diverse landscapes and nature, local myths and legends, and about the participants themselves will come to life through a vibrant mix of storytelling, film screenings, live music, creative workshops, theatrical performances, guided walks and more.

Explore more of the vibrant community stories programme here to find events near you.

 

Guardian of the Gateway: Beauly Wych Elm Celebration Event
Saturday 24 September (1-4pm), Beauly Priory
Free

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on the Tall Ship GlenleeBeauly Wych Elm. Photograph: Isabel McLeish

This is a special event held within the stunning Beauly Priory to celebrate the ancient Wych Elm tree during the Autumn Equinox with stories, food and art.

Circus Artspace are working in collaboration with Highland artist Isabel McLeish to celebrate the ancient Wych Elm tree at Beauly Priory – which is nearly 800 years old and believed to be the oldest Wych Elm in Europe. Sadly, the tree is dying of Dutch Elm Disease and it had its last buds in 2021.

This event will bring together the local community with artists, writers and partnership organisations to discover, celebrate and share their own stories and research about the Wych Elm. 

The celebration will feature the first reading of a new commissioned story from Highland writer Mandy Haggith, as well as invited tree health experts Phil Baarda (NatureScot) and Max Coleman (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh).

Some of the stories created in response to the tree, collected through Circus Artspace’s recent open call, will also be showcased. Plus there will be tree-inspired food and family art activities with artist Sadie Stoddart.

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Legendary Deeside
20 October (7.30pm), Ballater and 22 October (7.30pm), Aberdeen
Adult £12 / Friends of St Margaret’s Member £10 / Child £6

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on the Tall Ship GlenleeThe Deeside Way. Photograph: VisitScotland / Jakub Iwanicki

Legendary Deeside is a new commission from St Margaret’s, exploring landscape, love and legends: tales from the upper Deeside area.

A collaboration in music and storytelling, produced and directed by John Bett, Legendary Deeside features original music from Paul Anderson and stories retold by Northeast Makar Sheena Blackhall and actor Hamish Somers.

This new work is inspired by this unique corner of the Grampians which has borne witness to major historical events, hosting kings, queens, Jacobite rebels and mysterious murders — spawning countless ghost stories and local legends. Little wonder it was Braemar that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to create one of the most fiendish villains in literature in the form of Long John Silver.

The performers will weave together spoken word and music, immersing the audience in this world of local lore and legend.

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Shades: A Black Queer Storytelling Cabaret
15 October (6-7pm), Fruitmarket, Edinburgh
Pay What You Can: Free to £10

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on the Tall Ship GlenleeShades: A Black Queer Storytelling Cabaret. Photograph: Washington Gwande

A sensational storytelling cabaret of drag, opera, pole dancing and poetry, celebrating queer and Black stories from award-winning performers.

Your fabulous host for the evening is Rhys’ Pieces – rapping drag queen extraordinaire and one-person cabaret troupe giving you everything that’ll make you go ‘Woah! Wow! What?!’. Winner of LipSync1000 and QX Magazine Best Variety Cabaret Act 2019, they are one of the most significant cabaret artists in the UK.

Rhys’ Pieces will be joined by Andrea Baker, a mezzo soprano opera singer known for her ‘stupendous and heartrending’ talent who will share stories and songs of the African American female voice, Briana Pegado – striking yet sensitive poet and movement artist, and Kheanna Walker – dazzling and gravity-defying pole dancer.

If you fancy unique storytelling perspectives, unrivaled skill and a good dose of dazzle… get yourself to the cabaret!

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The Apprentice’s Tale
Until 5 December, The Tall Ship Glenlee, Glasgow
Free

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on the Tall Ship GlenleeThe Apprentice's Tale - Andy Andersen. Photograph courtesy of the Andersen family

Travel back in time and join Andy the Apprentice on a voyage from Sydney to Cape Town on the Tall Ship Glenlee!

On Tuesday 20 August 1918, the Glenlee sailed out from Sydney Harbour, accompanied by the sounds of sea shanties sung by the crew as they hauled up the anchor chains. On board was Ernest (Andy) Andersen, an apprentice who joined the crew aged 16.

Guided by Andy's own logbook, his life onboard will be shared through an exhibition and family trail. From the top of the rig, down to the bottom of the cargo hold, the Glenlee was Andy's home for four years and through his own words, the history of Glenlee will be brought alive.

In addition to an exhibition featuring memorabilia from Andy's life, the journey will be digitally mapped on a daily basis. This will be shared on the Tall Ship Glenlee’s website, so Andy's international journey can be followed by a truly global audience. 

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St Duthac Book and Arts Festival
22 – 26 September, various venues in Tain and Easter Ross
Prices vary but many events are free

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on the Tall Ship GlenleeSt Duthac Book and Arts Festival - Hamish Macdonald. Photograph: Catherine Williams

A varied and exciting programme is planned for St Duthac Book and Arts Festival 2022 – taking place from 22 to 26 September – featuring authors, storytellers, musicians, poets and artists from across the Easter Ross Peninsula area and beyond.

From castles to churches, and hotels to village halls, a wide array of venues will play host to festival events. To celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories, iconic local tales will be brought to life through walks and talks in the stunning and historically important places where some of the stories are set.

There are also family-friendly events planned, plus the welcome return of the hugely popular Pop-Up-Bookshop in Tain.

Dark Sky Storywalk
1 & 2 October, times vary, The Carrachs Dark Sky Discovery Site, Braes of Glenlivet
Free

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on the Tall Ship GlenleeDark Sky Storywalk. Photograph: David Newland

Explore the night sky as the Gaels, Picts and Vikings saw it, with stories of the planets and constellations. In this gentle guided walk through Cairngorms Dark Sky Park at dusk, rediscover our own ancestors' understanding of the stars and how this impacted on daily life.

The walk takes in the unique place of the Hidden College of Scalan in the Braes of Glenlivet, a former Catholic seminary which existed quietly while Catholicism was outlawed in Scotland. Keep warm with a cup of freshly brewed wild tea. You're in for a treat!

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Tanuki Tales – stories from Japan and beyond
1 & 8 October, The Japanese Garden at Cowden, Dollar
£8.50 (price includes garden entry)

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on the Tall Ship GlenleeTanuki Tales - The Japanese Garden. Photograph: Sara Stewart

To celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories, the Japanese Garden at Cowden – a stunning landscape, nestled beneath the Ochil Hills – has been exploring mythical tales linked to its history and that of Ella Christie, the Garden’s creator, who was a keen traveller.

Storyteller Lindsey Gibb will paint a vivid picture of the countries Ella travelled to by telling the stories she might have heard as she rode down dusty tracks, sailed the seas and explored the sights.

Hear about the Tanuki – a Japanese mythical creature – and other tales from around the world. Suitable for age 8+. Welcome and warmth provided!

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Story Ceilidh
27 September (6pm), Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock
Free

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on the Tall Ship GlenleeStory Ceilidh. Image: Magic Torch Comics

Celebrate Inverclyde’s multicultural community at this evening of traditional stories from Scotland, Syria and beyond.

Come along to this relaxed evening of family storytelling by the banks of the River Clyde to enjoy traditional stories, ballads and poems in Arabic, Scots and Gaelic, told by people from across the community of Inverclyde. From magical wells and treasure-filled palaces, to warrior Queens and witches, there’s a story for everyone.

The stories have been developed in workshops led by Magic Torch Comics and an illustrated collection of the tales will be available free to all audience members on the evening.

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Arctic Ventures: Forgotten Stories of Scottish Whaling
Until 27 November, Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther
Free

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on the Tall Ship GlenleeArctic Ventures. Image: Caroline Hack

For Scotland’s Year of Stories, the Scottish Fisheries Museum explores the fascinating forgotten stories of Scottish whaling through an imaginative new gallery display – inviting visitors to make a deeper connection with the subject matter.

Although brutal and exploitative, the whaling industry responded to a need for resources in 18th century Scotland and a vibrant culture was generated around it. The main narrative of the exhibition will align Anstruther and the museum’s building with the background of the wider story of Scottish whaling.

Renowned whaling artist Caroline Hack will bring aspects of this story to life through her bespoke textile art and handmade books, echoing the crafts and logs undertaken on long whaling voyages in the past.

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Journey to the Isles
Touring event: 23 Sep – Tiree, 25 Sep – Dundee, 27 Sep – Mull, 13 Oct – Eigg, 14 Oct – Skye, 15 Oct – Lewis, 17 Oct – Inverness
Prices vary

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on the Tall Ship GlenleeMusician Mairi Campbell. Photograph: Kat Gollock

A mesmerising glimpse into the landscapes, folktales and songs that inspired one of Scotland’s great early collectors of Traditional Arts.

Marjory Kennedy-Fraser began collecting Hebridean songs in 1905, fired by a desire to preserve and celebrate the musical riches of the islands’ people. A screening of two disarming films, made by Kennedy-Fraser herself, provides a snapshot of her work and the culture of the people she devoted her life to studying, all the while revealing the warmth of her personality and her passion for the rugged beauty of the Hebrides.

Joining audiences on this journey to the Isles are acclaimed live performers: Marion Kenny, one of Scotland’s leading storytellers, and award-winning musician, singer and songwriter Mairi Campbell. Weaving together words, music and song alongside Kennedy-Fraser’s enchanting films, Marion and Mairi will conjure the sounds and landscapes captured by this key figure of Scotland’s Celtic Revival.

This Hippodrome Silent Film Festival commissioned event will tour to seven Scottish venues, culminating in Inverness.

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Find out more about Scotland’s Year of Stories at visitscotland.com/stories