As the world casts their ‘aye’ over Scotland in the build up to the independence referendum, TradFest celebrates the revival of Celtic arts and Scottish cultural traditions

In its second edition after a triumphant debut in 2013, TradFest returns as Edinburgh’s only multi-arts festival dedicated to Scottishtraditional, Gaelic and folk arts.  Scotland will welcome the world in the Year of Homecoming 2014 providing a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games and TradFest is delighted to be part of the celebrations showcasing traditional Scottish culture, live.

Rooted in the past yet intrinsically connected to the present TradFest takes place in Edinburgh between April 29 and May 11 and boasts over eighty events and shows spread across twenty six venues. The festival features 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 also falls on the May Day Parade and will feature an address by journalist and writer Owen Jones.

Caroline Packman, Director of Homecoming Scotland said,

We are delighted to be supporting TradFest as part of the packed Homecoming Scotland programme of events. The plans outlined for this year’s festival tie in perfectly with our Year of Homecoming themes including ancestry and the best of Scotland’s culture and creativity.  The programme offers something for everyone whilst also providing a great opportunity to place the spotlight on some of Edinburgh’s most iconic and unusual locations.”

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 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’. Events such as the Scottish Piping Workshop and Scottish Piping Concert featuring Roddie Macleod, Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson and the conferences on Celtic Revival at the National Galleries and the National Library of Scotland will offer some clue as to how to unravel our adapting cultural landscape, as well as lectures at the University of Edinburgh.

Blackwell’s Bookshop hosts some very auspicious authors, thinkers and academics who will be talking about and debating issues concerning the revival of national identity and culture and the role of arts in fuelling Scotland’s outward cultural appeal. Guests from both sides of the independence debate include David Torrance (Scotland in a federal UK?), Gerry Hassan (Caledonian Dreaming) and Alexander Moffat (Arts of Independence).

TradFest offers many contemporary performances and shows including National Collective’s ‘Project Wish Tree’ and The Nation/Live Roots featuring Wounded Knee who present a political yet distinctive sound, a hybrid representation of Scotland. There is a film screening of Dolina Mclennan: A Continuing Renaissance a picture about Gaelic activist and actress Dolina Mclennan featuring singer Kathleen MacInnes. Transgressive North presents Folk Cinema combining music and film inspired by Scottish folk music traditions. TradFest also incorporates theatre such as Crows in the Capital, an outdoor performance based around the milestones of the history of Argyll in Scotland. 

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 free 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 and Fiona Hunter (Crossing Points), Alastair Savage Trio, Simon Kempston, 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 Eileen McGann, Welsh and Sengalese acts Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, European fusion collectives Mediterraneo, led by the hypnotic pizzica, tarantella and tammurriata rhythms of The Badwills, plus Nether Mind the Balkans and 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. Domhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart explores the legacy of John Francis Campbell, Roderick McNeill of Mingulay and Alexander Carmichael in Storytellers of Gaelic Scotland, an event for speakers of both languages, while there’s a muckle fest of Scots language in A Braw Nicht Oot. The Young Storytellers Competition offers an opportunity for raconteurs under sixteen years old to tell their tales, showcasing the next generation and Taffy Thomas leads an inspired tribute to the storytelling voices from Britain and Ireland accompanied by music and the sword wielding Newcastle Kingsmen. The Scottish Storytelling Centre offers an amazing array of shows from the mystical to the political, with stories of Scottish coalmines and their communities in Bonnie Collier Lads and Lassies just one example. 

Family Fun

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 (**** The Herald) 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 and songs about Scotland’s food. 

What’s more…

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 Hours

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 from Friday 2 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.

TradFest Website

Online Programme



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Contact Info

For all media inquiries contact Duncan Ballantyne on email: or Or by telephone: +44 (0)7582 242 802

Box Office:

The majority of tickets are available at the Scottish Storytelling Centre Box Office. Some events are only available to purchase at other venues, all info in below link. 

Box Office & individual event listings:

You can buy and collect tickets in person at TradFest Box Office: Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR or by telephone +44 (0)131 556 9579


Find the full programme on the What’s On Website here