The Refugee Festival Scotland programme is out now with 130 events taking place across the country.

Everyone is invited to join our celebration of art, culture and community. This year’s festival runs from 14-23 June. Over ten days, more than 130 mostly free events will take place in communities across Scotland, from the Borders to the Highlands.

Take a look at the programme listings to find out what’s on near you.

To mark the programme launch, Ukrainian musicians Kateryna Tunina, Valeria Nezhurbida and Bohdan Ilnytskyi from the group Progressive Time performed at Garnethill Viewpoint

In a year of terrible conflicts that have seen millions around the world forced from their homes, Refugee Festival Scotland will bring people from different backgrounds together in friendship and solidarity.

The theme of this year’s festival is Rise, in honour of those who have been forced to flee their homes rising above challenges and uncertainty to rebuild their lives in Scotland. This courage, strength and resilience is our inspiration.

Our Chief Executive, Sabir Zazai said: The last year has been incredibly tough for people in the refugee community. It’s important to make time for moments of joy, connect with one another and revel in not only what we have in common but also what makes us all unique. 

 “The festival is an opportunity to come together and share stories, celebrate each other’s culture and learn more about our new neighbours. Together, we can rise above the hostile environment and find strength in our communities.”  

Elina, a Refugee Festival Scotland ambassador who travelled from Ukraine to Scotland, added: “We are spreading a message that anyone can rise out of any circumstances they have faced in their own life since unfortunately most refugees experience the worst things that can happen to any human. We can share our experience to inspire other people too.” 

Something for everyone

Prince Chinemerem Uzoma and Dang Linh Nguyen from the Central and West Integration Network’s art group will exhibit their work during the festival

Refugee Festival Scotland has something for everyone, from community meals and traditional dance performances to DJs and drag queens, football tournaments and exclusive screenings with world-class, award-winning filmmakers.

The line-up brings people from different backgrounds and cultures together to meet, mix and get to know each other better. It is an opportunity for everyone to experience and enjoy the music, dance, food, art, language and ideas that people bring with them when they settle in Scotland.

Refugee Festival Scotland Manager Mónica Laiseca said: Packed with unique events and exceptional talent, the festival honours the resilience and courage of New Scots and celebrates a vision for a Scotland where everyone can blossom and has equal opportunity to thrive.

“At a particularly dire time for refugees and asylum seekers living in our communities, our festival puts forward an empowering message of welcome and makes visible the support that is overwhelmingly present and active across Scottish society.”

This year’s festival programme is one of our biggest and best yet. Check it out now to see what’s happening near you.

Here are a few highlights

Arabic Shorts: Resilient /صامد: Immerse yourself at an exclusive screening of six short films celebrating Arab resilience curated by Huss Al-Chokhdar at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Saturday 15 June. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Roxana Vilk and BAFTA award-winning  Palestinian poet and playwright Ghazi Hussein. 

Resilience in Flight with White-tailed Eagles: Get Wild in Dundee on the 15 and 22 June! The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds will be hosting interactive nature sessions marking the return of the white-tailed eagle to Scotland. How It Felt will then host puppet-making workshops where families can create their own eagles.

Hope Busák, Wild Dundee Project Manager at RSPB, said: “This year, RSPB Scotland’s ‘Wild Dundee’ initiative focuses on white-tailed eagles, showcasing nature’s resilience and the importance of connecting to the environment wherever we are.”

Light Hope Joy: Embrace the positive vibes at Pitlochry Festival Theatre at a day of Light Hope and Joy on 19 June. Deborah Dickinson​​​​, producer at PLT, said: “ We are looking forward to welcoming New Scots and Scots to the Theatre to enjoy arts activities in the beautiful Scottish landscape around us and to celebrate our shared humanity.”

Raising Voices: Join the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Refugee Festival Scotland at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 22 June for a special family-friendly concert celebrating the power of a good song. Three Glasgow-based community choirs will perform well-loved songs accompanied by an 18-piece orchestra.

Take a look at the full festival programme to see what events are taking place across Scotland

Rachel Lamb
Author: Rachel Lamb