Centuries of Scottish stories to be showcased in year-long culture celebration

A year-long celebration of centuries of Scottish storytelling will bring together The Beano, Harry Potter and Sunset Song with conservationist John Muir, geologist Hugh Miller and Mary Queen of Scots.

Tales of the Gaels, Picts, Vikings and Jacobites will be showcased alongside stories of "New Scots" from Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan in a programme of more than 60 events throughout 2022.

Scottish actor James Cosmo, star of Outlaw King, Game of Thrones and Trainspotting, has recorded the voiceover for a promotional video to the nation’s latest themed tourism and culture campaign.

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Scotland’s Year of Stories, which is being run by VisitScotland, will include a celebration of fishing on Mull and Iona, a comedy inspired by the history of St Andrews and a project inspired by reconstructions of people buried in Whithorn in the Middle Ages.

Dennis the Menace and Mary Queen of Scots paid a visit with eight-year-old Rocco Cesari and five-year-old Francesca Cesari to Luke Winter of the Story Wagon – a touring space offering creative writing, traditional storytelling and story sharing activities – at The Kelpies in Falkirk to launch Scotland's Year of Stories. Picture: VisitScotland/Chris Watt

Dundee will be turned into “Beanotown” for a summer celebration of the Beano comic, which will feature a pop-up museum, workshops, talks and film screenings and a marble run.

The Royal Botanic Garden will be stage a programme of performance, music, and storytelling drawing links between Scotland’s rich and diverse plant life and books like Harry Potter and Sunset Song.

An exhibition will recall how a village on the Moray Firth was swept away in a sand storm in 1694, an outdoor performance will be inspired by the experience of patients and staff in a Dumfries psychiatric hospital dating back to 1838 and a newly-restored silent film about Mary Queen of Scots, unseen since the 1920s, will be shown in Bo’ness.

Leading writers involved include Alan Bissett, who is writing a new play on the life of Aberdeenshire suffragette and journalist Caroline Phillips, while Hannah Lavery will lead a project for 28 creative writing groups – including LGBTQ+ and BAME participants, refugee women, the elderly and rurally isolated people – to create new work about their experiences living in Scotland.

Spectra, Scotland’s Festival of Light, is staged in Aberdeen city centre. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Other events will bring together Scotland’s Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities with newly-settled Eastern European people to celebrate their shared cultural heritage.

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Home Fae Home will see refugees and asylum seekers living in Glasgow contribute songs, poems and stories from their home countries.

Songs From The Last Page will create a new body of music inspired by the last lines of great Scottish fiction, while An Tinne will see Skye singer Anne Martin explore the songs, stories and objects linking Scotland and Australia.

Special projects will celebrate Glasgow’s Castlemilk, Possilpark and Easterhouse estates, a Dumbarton-based ship involved in rescuing 600 Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk during the Second World War and 100 years of Orcadian writer George Mackay Brown.

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh will be staging a programme of music, performance and storytelling inspired by Scotland's rich and diverse plant life. Picture: Lynsey Wilson
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Special events will be held at Stirling Castle, a forest in the hills above Loch Ness, a community wood in Dingwall, Ayr town centre, the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed House For An Art Lover in Glasgow and in Aberdeen city centre, which will host Spectra, Scotland’s “Festival of Light.”

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “Scotland’s Year of Stories offers an incredible platform to showcase the many sides of Scotland’s distinct, vibrant and diverse culture.

“From icons of literature to local tales, the year encourages visitors and locals to experience a range of voices, take part in events and explore the places, people and cultures connected to all forms of our stories, past and present.”

The Borders Book Festival will be among the events staging special programmes for Scotland's Year of Stories in 2022.