Traditional Scottish culture festival launches in Edinburgh with music, literature, theatre, film and talks with a focus on the revival of folk arts and the impending independence referendum
In its second edition after a triumphant debut in 2013, TradFest returns as Edinburgh’s only multi-arts festival dedicated to Scottish culture, traditional, Gaelic and folk arts. Rooted in the past yet intrinsically connected to the present, Scottish and international artists will combine with local performers for an exciting fortnight of music, talks, storytelling and exhibitions.
Taking place between April 29 and May 11 and boasting over eighty events and shows, spread across twenty six venues in Edinburgh (the hub is the Scottish Storytelling Centre),
TradFest promises a hugely entertaining and enlightening programme with something for everyone including a new family-friendly strand to its programme and plenty of free events.
Featuring Scottish and international music concerts, talks and debates spanning Scottish cuisine to political self determination, storytelling sessions revelling in mystical folklore,
Fringe theatre, puppet shows, walking tours, visual arts, film screenings, conferences and craft fairs, TradFest will turn Edinburgh into a hive of activity inspired by and coinciding with Beltane and May Day.
Highlights include a performance by modern Scottish trad ensemble Breabach fresh from their Australian/New Zealand tour, new darling on the Scottish folk scene Rachel Newton.
Sengalese and Welsh world music stars Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, the ever popular and super strange Mummers Gathering and Ball, the National Collective’s ‘Project Wish Tree’, talks by Gerry Hassan and David Torrance, acoustic performance by Wounded Knee as part of The Nation/Live project and A May Day Parade collaboration featuring an address by journalist and writer Owen Jones.
An ‘Aye’ on Scotland
As the world’s eyes and ears hone in on Scotland for what will be the nation’s most memorable year in modern times with Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games and the Scottish independence referendum taking centre stage, TradFest celebrates the wealth of diversity in folk arts and asks why during big moments in Scotland’s history, people have dug into folk traditions as a source of inspiration and orientation? Thus, the theme of this year’s festival is ‘Revival and Renaissance’ and events such as the piping day seminar and concert featuring Roddie Macleod, Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson, the conference on the 19th and 20th centuries Celtic Revival at the National Galleries and the National Library of Scotland series of talks on Scotland’s successive cultural flowerings will all offer some clue as to how to unravel our adapting cultural landscape.
Out and About
TradFest will celebrate Auld Reekie’s identity by guiding visitors and residents through The Old Town Trad Trail, honeycombing the closes, streets, courtyards, cafes, arts centres,concert halls, restaurants and pubs of R.L. Stevenson’s ‘precipitous city’ – all of which have contributed to the contemporary Trad renaissance in Edinburgh. TradFest encourages exploration of Edinburgh’s magical and diverse environment. There is a Beltane Fire Society masque on Calton Hill, a Dawn Walk on Arthur’s Seat, a Mummer’s Gathering in Bristo Square, the traditional May Day Parade on Edinburgh’s High Street and a family band procession on Portobello Promenade.
A mainstay of the festival and with a Scottish and Gaelic talent pool in abundance we’re delighted to have music acts like Kathleen MacInnes, Fiona Hunter, Alastair Savage Trio, Simon Kempton, Breabach, Adam Holmes, Nuala Kennedy, Rachel Newton, Skerryvore, Euan Drysdale and the brilliantly named Horndog Brassband plus many more performing.
Equally with the international resurgence in folk arts, specifically music, we’re excited to welcome Canadians The Dardanelles and Ellen McGann, Welsh and Sengalese acts Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, European fusion collectives Mediterraneo and Nether Mind the Balkans plus The Old Dance School from England.
Literature & Storytelling
TradFest caters for Gaelic and English speakers providing an integrated cultural experience for all tastes and ages. John Francis Campbell and Alexander Carmichael preside over Storytellers of Gaelic Scotland, an event for speakers of both languages, The Young Storytellers Competition offers an opportunity for writers up to sixteen years old to tell their tales and Taffy Thomas leads an inspired tribute to storytelling voices from Britain and Ireland accompanied by the sword wielding Newcastle Kingsmen. The Scottish Storytelling Centre offers an amazing array of shows from the mystical to the political.
This year’s celebrations have not been rehearsed without consideration of the bairns so we’ve organised a feast of fun, games and frolicking for toddlers and young children. The Secret Life of Suitcases is a family oriented puppetry production geared around the mysterious arrival of a magical suitcase, Tiny TradFest Tales is a mixture of stories, song and dance aimed at 1 to 3 year olds and Mrs Mash, Kail Yard Tales is back with some amazing stories about Scotland’s food.
Another addition to this year’s festival is the inclusion of a visual arts strand with exhibitions at the Talbot Rice Gallery, the Museum of Edinburgh and the Scottish Storytelling Centre.
TradFest’s partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland offers an insight into the Scottish colourist J.D. Fergusson’s work.
After the success of the evening soiree that is the Festival Club, we’re this year offering music, an open mic and a convivial atmosphere every evening starting on Friday 02 May at Teviot Row’s Lounge Bar. TradFest raises the curtain on a summer of Festivals across Scotland bringing the Old Town of Edinburgh to life, showcasing how it was made for conviviality.
Tickets are on sale now via the Tradfest website and individual event listings.
You can visit the TradFest website
View the online Programme (PDF, opens in new window)