10 Storytelling Festivals You Must Attend in 2016

We are storytelling animals. And so, before you ask yourself what can storytelling offer to your business, think back on what you engage with as a person. Looking at the hundreds of thousands of years of storytelling history, we can see how storytelling has evolved. And there have been changes in businesses storytelling as well. What began with small brochures, television ads to very sophisticated content marketing strategies, we’ve come a long way. And while storytelling for fun and business is likely to be different, the storytelling techniques and elements remain the same. Our digital marketing trends for 2016 show us that this field is going to rise, and consumers want businesses to tell them engaging stories. Today, I’ll share a list of storytelling festivals you must attend in 2016. Storytelling is a skill, and I do believe attending workshops and events will help you hone them!

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10 storytelling festivals you must attend in 2016 brandanew

#1 – National Storytelling Festival

What started in the 70s as a humble gathering of 60 people around a hay wagon to listen to Appalachian stories has turned into the “leading event of its kind in America” and is now in its 44th edition. Touted as being one of the Top 100 Events in North America, The National Storytelling festival brings dozens of local and international speakers and performers to historic Jonesborough, Tennessee. In previous years the festival has enchanted participants with a plethora of classic storytelling techniques and sessions, as well as story slams, ghost stories, “midnight cabarets” and music shows. The event is scheduled for the first full weekend of October, 2016, between the 7th and the 9th.

#2 – Scottish International  Storytelling Festival

This 10-day prestigious Festival will take place in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital. After delighting thousands of fans in the storytelling festival in 2015, with more than 70 events in the capital and 20 spread around the country, they are back. In 2016 this iconic festival’s theme will be The Right to Dream and it will focus on stories from the Hispanic world. There will be many storytelling events for visitors of all ages, but also music performances, exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and several professional development events. The festival will take place between the 21st and the 30th of October 2016.

#3 – Timpanogos Storytelling Festival

It is only a 3-day Festival but that doesn’t stop the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival from being the largest event of its kind throughout the west coast. This festival started in the founder’s backyard, but has seen tremendous growth and is considered by many story lovers as “the finest of its kind”. Apart from classic storytelling techniques and sessions, the public will also be able to participate in pottery workshops, listen to live music events and watch puppet shows that will surely entertain all family members. The festivities take place in Timpanogos, Orem (Utah), from August 31 to September 3.

#4 – Cape Clear International Storytelling Festival

This unique festival takes place in one of Ireland’s islands, Cape Clear. It spreads across six different venues throughout the island, giving participants a wonderful excuse to hit the road and enjoy the natural scenery while switching between performances. Apart from storytelling shows, this festival, now in its 21st edition, has a tradition of presenting its visitors with concerts, workshops for adults and children, story swaps, historical walks, Irish dancing shows and even a storytelling boat trip. The event will be held between September 2 and 4.

#5 – Alden Biesen International Storytelling Festival

Considered the largest storytelling festival in Europe, the Alden Biesen Festival is a multilingual storytelling gathering that takes place in Belgium and is very targeted to young and adult students. Every year visitors from around the world gather to participate in several  multilingual storytelling sessions in 8 different languages, but also in language classes, story walks, street theatre and musical performances. From April 18 to 26.

#6 – Three Rivers Storytelling Festival

This particular festival happens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and compensates its small size with the broad activities that it offers: besides storytelling sessions, this year’s edition featured a liar’s contest, storytelling workshops and masterclasses, ghost stories, story swaps, book signing sessions, musical performances and activities for children. Next year’s edition will take place on August 5th and 6th.

#7 – Festival at the Edge (F.A.T.E.)

F.A.T.E. is a family-friendly festival that will be held from July 15 to 17 next year, surrounded by England’s beautiful countryside, right outside of the historic town of Much Wenlock. Apart from hearing stories from performers from around the world, gathering around browsing through bonfires and craft fairs, visitors will be allowed to take part in several free workshops throughout the weekend. On-site camping will also be made available to the public.



#8 – Beyond the Border

Wales International Festival is one of the most well-known in the international storytelling scene and will be taking place between July 1st and 3rd next year in St. Donats medieval castle. The Times magazine has said this was “A Festival like no other” and we can easily understand why: apart from classic storytelling sessions, there will also be music, poetry, theatre and circus performances, as well as workshops, movie screenings and puppet shows.

#9 – Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival

This small festival takes place in Brundidge, Alabama, from January 29 to 30. It takes off with a supper for all participants, and then the stories begin, with three storytelling concerts that will surely entertain the crowds. The festival usually brings the top storytellers of the country and before each storytelling session participants are greeted with musical performances that range from country music, to bluegrass and southern gospel.

#10 – Bay Area Storytelling Festival

Beginning in April 29 and ending on the 1st of May, San Francisco’s festival will offer plenty of opportunities for visitors to indulge in various storytelling sessions, delivered by outstanding performers from the US and around the world, as well as numerous workshops, story swaps and concerts. Participants can also update their storytelling collections by browsing through books, audio recordings and several storytelling-related items within the festival’s store.

So, which storytelling events are you attending in 2016? I’m excited and finding it really hard to choose 🙂

Image credit: Timpanogos Storytelling Festival


Diana Madaleno

Digital Storyteller at Brandanew
Diana loves helping entrepreneurs & freelancers reach new customers with innovative strategies, interesting content and appealing graphics! She's Brandanew's new digital storyteller and is based at Lisbon, Portugal.