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What to see at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2018

‘Stories are like gardens - they bring people together and grow, but they also need nurture and care.’

This sentiment is powerfully present in the ‘Growing Stories’ theme for the 30th edition of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. The programme aims to ‘feed the creativity of Scottish and international storytellers, to unearth ancient roots and make new talent blossom across Scotland.’

There’s a special focus on the shared culture of Scotland and Ireland, and many events take place in the special surroundings of community gardens.

Here, we’ve picked just seven events from the programme which look unmissable.

1) OSSIAN - The Pipes & The Story

Storytelling, poetry and music combine in this unique performance, which explores Scottish and Irish history.

The event assembles a stellar line-up of Scotland’s musical talent, including Ross Ainslie, Allan MacDonald, Brighde Chaimbeul, Griogair Labhruidh, and Angus and Kenneth MacKenzie, with a dramatic narrative by Scottish storytellers, including David Campbell, Janis Mackay and Martin MacIntyre.

It's been devised by Hamish Moore and Donald Smith.

OSSIAN Booking Information: Thursday 18 October, The Great Hall of Stirling Castle, 7.30pm, £19.50 (£12-£16 concession).

2) Enchanted Garden - Growing Stories, Growing Trees

Take in the vibrant autumn colours at the Botanic Cottage in Edinburgh, as Scottish and international storytellers transport you to a land of imagination.

The event includes a special storytelling session, Re-Storying the Earth, with Alette Willis and Allison Galbraith.

Enchanted Garden Booking Information: Sunday 21 October, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, 1pm, free (drop in, three hours).

3) Scotland & Ireland: Sgiath Amazon Queen of Skye

Isle of Skye’s seanachaidh George Macpherson introduces you to Sgiath, the legendary queen known as ‘The Greatest of All Warriors’.

She is known for setting up the world’s first colleges, universities and hospitals.

Sgiath Amazon Queen of Skye Booking Information: Monday 22 October, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, 6.30pm, £7.50 (£6 concessions).

4) Spark 100

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of Scotland’s greatest writers: Muriel Spark.

As part of the year-long Muriel Spark 100 celebrations taking place across the country, an expert guide from Mercat Tours, in true Spark style, will leap through time and explore the writer’s life in Edinburgh.

Spark 100 Booking Information: Saturday 20 & Saturday 27 October, Departs from Mercat Cross, Edinburgh, 1.30pm, £13 (£8 child, £11 concession).

5) The Spooky Castle

Spend a morning exploring Lauriston Castle at Halloween.

Visitors can a walk through the creepy old woods, search for spooky clues with on-site ghouls, and to refuel, make Halloween treats in the historical kitchen.

The Spooky Castle Booking Information: Sunday 28 October,Lauriston Castle, 10am, £7.

6) The Keening Wake

This devised taisbeanadh beò (live show) searches for the voices of the mnathan- tuirim (keening women) of Scotland and Ireland.

Calling upon a rich mix of Scottish and Irish Gaelic, Doric, Georgian and Basque in uences, artist-researchers Déirdre Ní Mhathúna, Nerea Bello, Morag McDonald and Madge Bray take a few creative leaps, while fully respecting existing poetry and lore, in their quest to rediscover the Caoineadh.

S e taisbeanadh beò a th’ ann an ‘Keening Wake’, far am bithear a’ lorg seann ghuthan nam mnathan-tuirim.  Rè a’ phròiseict (2017-18), chruthaich an luchd-ealain Déirdre Ní Mhathúna, Nerea Bello agus Madge Bray ‘The Keening Wake’ às an rannsachadh agus am mac-meanmna.

Air an àrd-ùrlar, bidh Morag McDonald còmhla riutha ’s iad a’ cleachdadh guthan nan Gàidheal, nam Basgach, muinntir Georgia is nan Albannach airson mac-talla a’ Chaoinidh a chur air beulaibh an luchd-èisteachd tro bhàrdachd, òrain agus beul-aithris.

This event has been supported by HLF and Tasgadh Traditional Arts Fund.

The Keening Wake Booking Information: Tuesday 30 October, Scottish Storytelling Centre, 5.30pm, £7.50 (£6 concession).

7) Samhuinn Fire Festival

The Beltane Fire Society celebrates the Celtic New Year by marking the end of summer and welcoming the onset of winter with acrobatics, drumming, reworks, beautiful costumes and breathtaking performances.

Samhuinn Fire Festival Booking Information: Wednesday 31 October, Calton Hill, 7pm, ticketed.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival takes place from Friday 19 - Wednesday 31 October (with an opening event at Stirling Castle on Thursday 18 October). For more details on this year's programme, and to find information on all events happening in 2018, visit sisf.org.uk.

This article was published on 17 Oct 2018