SCOTLAND’S Year of Stories has prompted a “fantastic response” from communities all over the country, according to organisers.

Along with festivals and other large scale projects, the programme ­includes events in communities from Stromness to Easterhouse and from Aberdeen to Auchendrain.

“People have come forward really wanting to do something in their own communities,” said Donald Smith (below), ­director of the Scottish ­Storytelling Centre who is on the steering group for the Year of Stories. “There are ­stories about the natural world, ­stories about women, LGBT stories and industrial stories – it has got it all.”

The National: Picture Nick Ponty 09/6/15.Pilgrim Guide to Scotland launched by Author Donald Smith at Glasgow Cathedral..

The theme of stories is the latest in the series of themed years launched by the Scottish Government and Smith said it was particularly ­appropriate for 2022 with the pandemic taking its toll on people’s spirits.

“I think this has a relevance to ­exactly where we are now as stories are about memories and hope,” he said. “It is that sharing of memories, emotions and experiences that gives us hope and connects people. Storytelling is not some mysterious, high cultural art – although it is an art form – but is about connecting ­people and giving them an element of ­comfort.”

He said the public could start the Year of Stories by getting in touch with someone they had not seen ­because of the pandemic to share a memory.

“Just share a story with someone and do it this month at the start of the Year of Stories,” said Smith. “I think we need that and it is part of what this year is about. There are all these ­projects and festivals ­taking part which is great but it is also ­personal and not just about some kind of ­cultural event.

“A thread you can see in the programme is diaspora stories because of the way people have migrated from and to Scotland. That is another category of person you could be in touch with.”

Smith said storytelling had played a bigger part in Scottish culture than in some others because Gaelic had been banned in the past and many traditions had been frowned on.

“That has made storytelling more important in Scotland as people ­realised they could keep a lot of community experiences and values alive through it rather than through ­official cultural patronage,” he said. “It is also very democratic because it does not have that dependence on ­being learned or being bookish.”

He pointed out that the Gaelic word ceilidh meant visiting and a ­ceilidh was when people came ­together and made their own ­entertainment through storytelling and music ­making.

“It was open to everyone and again that is a very valuable thing for ­modern times when a lot of people feel isolated or under pressure,” said Smith. “That chance to share experiences will be a big part of the year ahead.” Storytelling is also appreciated by tourists, he said.

READ MORE: Scotland's literary history to be showcased with Year of Stories 2022

“It is good for our own ­communities but also great for visitors as what they want above all else is a bit of ­authentic local engagement and there are lot of storytelling walks in the programme where someone with knowledge of the local area is taking them out.

“A ceilidh-style event is another great offer especially for the kind of tourists we are getting now. Tourism has changed and tourists are not looking for the mass package but for something different and a bit special. Scotland can ­offer that.”

Marie Christie, head of development at VisitScotland, said themed years gave an opportunity to showcase the best of Scotland.

“The year will shine a spotlight on our diverse stories and creative ­talent, literary visitor attractions, ­festivals and bookshops,” she said.

“It’ll also encourage people to ­explore Scotland’s rich tradition as a backdrop for film and TV. It’s a theme with far-reaching appeal and we hope it will resonate with locals and visitors alike.

“New stories are being created ­every day and we hope that people will join us in celebrating the Year of Stories, capturing and sharing their own #TalesOfScotland.”

Find out more about the Year of Stories 2022 at