The Scottish International Storytelling Festival programme celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

by Keira Brown
Communications Executive, Edinburgh
City of Literature Trust

12 Sept 2023

As Scotland’s consultation on a new Human Rights Bill draws to a close, storytellers, musicians and artists will join together with tales of human courage and creativity, at this year's Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

The 2023 programme for this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF) explores our Right To Be Human this October, celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

During this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival (13-29 October) there will be stories told about the impacts of war, gender inequality, censorship; ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious prejudices; and other threats and challenges on our human rights as a global nation. Since it began in 1989, the festival has continued to develop over the years with its venue tied to the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh – the only purpose built home for storytelling in the UK.

New this year is the Festival's first podcast series 'Another Story' - six weekly episodes curated around the festival theme, starting today at the programme launch; and Art of the Storyteller - in-person, weekend workshops led by Festival Director Donald Smith with various professional storytellers, where budding storytellers can learn to improve their storytelling skills and better connect with their audience.

Their popular online workshop strand Global Lab returns this year and during the first week (16-19 Oct) the festival will look at our planet’s eco-system and how ecological passion drives twenty-first century storytelling. In association with Earth Charter International, each day Festival Director Donald Smith will invite storytellers from all corners of our planet to perform stories of human messiness, healing, hope and connections with nature, encouraging more international engagement with the SISF. In the second week the workshop theme is Shared Lives (23-26 Oct) and their focus returns to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the importance of valuing dignity, respect, equality and compassion in our lives.

Donald Smith, Scottish International Storytelling Festival Director, says:

"All over the world human and environmental rights are under threat. But against that there is an activist and creative tide building towards a different future. The Storytelling Festival is part of that wave."

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival will take place Friday 13 - Sunday 29 October. Tickets to each event cost a maximum of £10, with family events costing just £5 per ticket. For those planning on attending multiple events, the Festival Pass offers discounted tickets to many live festival events, online and at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, as well as a discount at the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s bookshop and Haggis Box Café.

To purchase tickets and browse the full programme, visit

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is organised by TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) and supported by The Scottish Government Festival Expo Fund, Creative Scotland, and the City of Edinburgh Council. The Edinburgh Festivals PLACE Programme has also enabled a further expansion of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival across Edinburgh and Scotland.