In its 27th year, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival returned in the incarnation of the Festival of Dreams this year running from 21 – 31 October 2016 with another rich programme of live storytelling, workshops, talks and family shows. The Fountain took itself to a couple of these events to get a sense of the Festival of Dreams and was enriched by such colourful stories from Scotland, and…Mexico.

The programme this year focussed on the Spanish-speaking world, with guests from Spain, Central and South America spinning fantastic tales. Other guests hailed from Finland, Jamaica, Brazil and across Scotland, telling tales old and new, outlandish and well-loved. At the Open Hearth we were invited to Rubén Corbett treated us to stories from Mexico and Panama, exploring his double cultural background in an animated and comic fashion that kept his listeners enthralled. David Campbell treated the crowd to more ancient tales from Scotland along with Alex Patience and Claire McNicol, whilst Donald McNeil graced us with the sounds of Stroma.

We also braved the Dreams and Nightmares tour around the Royal Mile with Mercat Tours to uncover closes and courtyards where ambition was erected, and nightmares of riot and ruin unfolded. Edinburgh has always stoked a dual personality, emphasised by stories such as Jekyll and Hyde, and this tour certainly highlighted the various sides to the city’s history and personality.

A tale of two halves, interwoven in one city, the darker underbelly is embellished in folklore, as are those that made this city “great” and Naomi from Mercat tours guided us through Parliament Square with its “ponderous Georgian architecture” via the tales of Maggie Dickson, Robert Johnson to Mary Kings Close and it’s plague, beguiling us with stories of Deacon Brodie and the superstition of David Hume’s toe.

Concluding with the World’s End and the third town of Canongate, our Halloween eve was amplified by these dark and subversive stories.

Varying in different levels of opulence, the Festival of Dreams pushed us towards the lands of nod, fulfilling and stretching our imagination through little-known tales from the isles, and beyond, as well as pulling us through the historical nightmares that coined the phrase “kick the bucket.”