Over its seven iterations, Solas Festival has morphed into a trans-generational gathering place focused on the arts and the sharing of creative ideas. Debs Hahn describes Solas as “a party, but what sets it aside … is the sharing of creative ideas, exploring them and creating a community for the weekend.”
A group of artists, musicians, and writers who wanted to see a festival with an emphasis on arts, literature, spoken word, and politics in Scotland created Solas Festival. Located north of Edinburgh in central Scotland, the festival is easily accessible and offers on-site camping.
Festival of New Works, Ideas, and Concepts
The three-day event strives on creating an inclusive community across all ages—hip-hop concerts for youngsters to workshops and discussions around faith and spirituality for parents. Organizers are dedicated to broad programming that also introduces the audience to new works, ideas, and concepts.
Each edition features a specific theme. The 2017 theme is “Home” and the programming will explore ideas around ecology, hospitality and creating a community, creating “a home.” The focus will be on different communities within Scotland, and what it means to feel at home in a place. Solas is breaking down barriers by including artists who have disabilities and making the festival easily accessible to participants with disabilities.
Last year’s theme was “Beyond Borders” and offered many opportunities for attendees to learn more about the current refugee crisis in Europe. Solas provided bursaries (scholarships) to 50 refugees to attend the festival, including a group of students living in Glasgow, who were able to experience immersion into Scottish culture. Festival staff also expanded their own horizons a bit, as the festival fell on Ramadan and they had to provide food for the refugees in that specific context.
Over the years, Solas has fostered international collaborations and is currently working with their sister festival in Palestine: Bet Lahem Live. Last year, the Glaswegian hip-hop artist Louie Bhoy and singer-songwriter Declan Welsh played at Bet Lahem with local Palestinian artists. If funding is granted, Palestinians artists will be able to come play at Solas’ next edition, June 23 to 25.