Home   News   Article

Discover the yarns behind Scotland’s rich tapestry

By Contributor

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

Jacobites, dragons, selkies and more: Scotland’s magical stories

Sponsored Editorial

Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on The Tall Ship Glenlee
Don't miss The Apprentice's Tale on The Tall Ship Glenlee

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.

Push the Boat Out: A Poetry Feast of Mythical Beasts

5 November (6-6.50pm), Summerhall, Edinburgh


Hollie McNish - Kat Gollock
Hollie McNish - Kat Gollock

An exciting new poetry festival – Push the Boat Out – has commissioned seven innovative poets to reimagine some of Scotland’s most famous and infamous mythical beasts for the Year of Stories.

Continuing a rich, global tradition of new writing which retells traditional tales of old, these fresh and dynamic perspectives pull our selkies and fairies into the 21st century. With Hollie McNish, Dave Hook, Katie Ailes, Ceitidh Campbell, Anita Mackenzie, Julie Rea and Calum Rodger, expect poetry which challenges the old stories, refreshing rap, and maybe even some dance!

Each poem will be supported by illustrations from Púca Printhouse’s beautiful map ‘The Mythical Beasts of Scotland’ which inspired the commissions.

Legendary Deeside

20 October (7.30pm), Ballater and 22 October (7.30pm), Aberdeen

Adult £12 / Friends of St Margaret’s Member £10 / Child £6

The Deeside Way. Photograph: VisitScotland / Jakub Iwanicki
The 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.

Shades: A Black Queer Storytelling Cabaret

15 October (6-7pm), Fruitmarket, Edinburgh

Pay What You Can: Free to £10

Shades: A Black Queer Storytelling Cabaret. Photograph: Washington Gwande
Shades: A Black Queer Storytelling Cabaret. Photograph: Washington Gwande

Discover 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, unrivalled skill and a good dose of dazzle… get yourself to the cabaret!

The Apprentice’s Tale

Until 5 December, The Tall Ship Glenlee, Glasgow


The Apprentice's Tale - Andy Andersen. Photograph courtesy of the Andersen family
The 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.

Lost Inverlael Community Ceilidh

19 November (4-7pm), Braemore Hall, near Ullapool


Duncan ‘Bain’ Mackenzie whose ancestors lived in Inverlael. Photograph: Jim Dunn / Ullapool Museum
Duncan ‘Bain’ Mackenzie whose ancestors lived in Inverlael. Photograph: Jim Dunn / Ullapool Museum

2020 marked the 200th anniversary of the Inverlael Clearances. Over the past two years, the cleared Highland townships of Inverlael and Balblair have been rediscovered through Ullapool Museum’s community archaeology project ‘Lost Inverlael: A' Lorg Baile Bhlàir’. This special community ceilidh shares the unique stories of this place and its people, until recently buried as a forgotten history.

Through words, music, photography and film, the ceilidh is a chance to come together to celebrate and reflect on the rediscovery of a lost community. With music from renowned local musician Ruairidh Maclean, the event will also showcase his new musical piece, composed to celebrate the people of Inverlael and their story.

The Legend of Kinnoull Hill Dragon

12 November, times vary, Norrie Miller Walk, Perth


The Legend of Kinnoull Hill Dragon - Adventure Circus
The Legend of Kinnoull Hill Dragon - Adventure Circus

Are you ready to enjoy an immersive circus experience, bringing the legend of the Kinnoull Hill dragon back to life?

Back in the 6th century, the slaying of the Kinnoull Hill dragon was celebrated by the people of Perth with fire, marching, drums and bagpipes. Adventure Circus are going to revive this tradition by sharing the long-forgotten local legend with modern audiences at a spectacular new circus arts show presented at Kinnoull Hill. The story will be told through an immersive blend of storytelling, puppetry, acrobatics and fire performance.

The Elephant in the Close and Other Tall Tales

15 – 23 October, various locations across Lanark

£1.80 to £8

Cora Linn Waterfall - Graeme McLeish
Cora Linn Waterfall - Graeme McLeish

A week-long festival of walking, talking and storytelling for all ages, will bring a mix of Lanark’s best and least known stories to life. October half term week will see eleven magical events in a variety of locations; up hills, in woods, beside gravestones, by waterfalls, in cafes and pubs, and even a fairy dell!

Every storytelling session is an event in itself with added ingredients including walking, talking, making, music, play and delicious local food and drink.

Highlights include:

Tales of the Cemetery: Explore Lanark Cemetery and hear the stories of the famous, and infamous, buried there – from covenanters and their persecutors to Stanley’s guide in his quest to find Livingstone.

The Orra Man of Merlin's Crag: A fun afternoon of storytelling, dance and craft for children aged 7 to 11, based on this local myth.

The Legend of Cora Linn: Join author Allison Galbraith on a walk along the Clyde Walkway to Cora Linn, where she will read her story of how the spectacular waterfall came to be named after the daughter of King Malcolm II.

She Settles in the Shields: 10 Years On

30 October (2-3.30pm), Pollokshields Burgh Hall, Glasgow


She Settles in the Shields. Photograph: Glasgow Women’s Library
She Settles in the Shields. Photograph: Glasgow Women’s Library

Enjoy an afternoon tea listening to generational stories of migrant women, touching on the themes of culture, traditions, values, identity, cross-cultural understanding and more.

She Settles in the Shields’ is an oral history book published in 2011 by Glasgow Women’s Library to acknowledge and celebrate the lives of migrant women who settled in Pollokshields, a vibrant area of Glasgow. This story café event, hosted 10 years after the book’s publication, provides a unique opportunity to hear the stories of second and third generation migrant women in the area through a series of film clips, intergenerational storytelling and performance.

This event is for women only (inclusive of Trans and Intersex women, as well as non-binary and gender fluid people who are comfortable in a space that centres the experience of women).

Arctic Ventures: Forgotten Stories of Scottish Whaling

Until 27 November, Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther


Arctic Ventures - Caroline Hack
Arctic Ventures - 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.

Journey to the Isles

Touring event: 13 Oct – Eigg, 14 Oct – Skye, 15 Oct – Lewis, 17 Oct – Inverness

Prices vary

Journey To The Isles - Kat Gollock
Journey To The Isles - Kat Gollock

Explore 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.

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

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More