Traditional Scottish music from the Isle of Skye, hip hop from Edinburgh, and a top cellist playing Bach. A workshop in lantern making. Talks on Scottish nationalism, ecology, the economy, and religious differences. A dawn hike up the mountain. A morning worship service. A giant ceilidh.
All of that is just small part of what goes on during the Solas Festival. This takes place 24 to 26 June this year, in central Scotland, in Wiston, near Biggar, which means it is located about halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The word solas means light in Scottish Gaelic (and in Irish, too). That name for the festival was chosen with care. Art, music, film, theatre — and a heart for social justice is how the festival organizers describe their focus, and that ethos runs through the music, the talks, the theatre, and the whole idea of the festival, which is to get people talking, thinking, and celebrating the questions and connections which arise from these things. While I was in Glasgow during Celtic Connections this winter, I had the opportunity to chat with several of those involved with the festival. It quickly became clear that they are interested in inviting dialogue and questions while celebrating the arts, faith, and thoughtful conversation. Solas is also a very family friendly festival, with many things families can do together.
A concert by Scots trad award winning musician Emily Smith, an interview features major Hollywood producer Alan Greenspan, workshops in samba drumming, waulking songs, and lithographs, presentations from storyteller Gerry Durkin and children’s author Matthew Fitt, collaborations from musicians just on tap for the Solas festival stages: there is a lot going on.
“Solas Festival aims to create a generous, hospitable space in Scotland where the arts can be performed and enjoyed by all,” write the festival board. “Our programme also makes space for challenging debate with activists, writers and thinkers from across the political, cultural and religious spectrum.”
In case you were wondering, there’s not a bit of preachy tone about it either, rather one of respect and invitation. Along with celebration and good fun and loads of music, as well. A bold celebration and exploration of the relationships between art, faith and justice, that’s the premise , and one that is engagingly carried out. Even if you’ll not be making it out to the festival, an exploration of the Solas Festival web site is still well worth your time.
Photograph of Emily Smith by Kerry Dexter.
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