Faith, Hope and Reality 6 - 29 August 2011

2011’s Festival flew by in a blur of colour, discussion and laughter.  With nearly 300 events taking place in three weeks across Scotland tackling the important questions of life: What happens when science meets religion? When East meet the West?  And when faith meets reality? All asked with a pinch of hope!    

FoSP '11 First Look from The Festival of Spirituality and on Vimeo.


As always a range of challenging issues were broached during the 23 conversations events.  We were delighted to welcome Bishop Christopher Senjonyo from Uganda who spoke compellingly about the persecution of the homosexual community in his country.  It was also a huge privilege to hear Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf discuss the reality of living and working as an Imam in New York with the growing tide of Islamophobia in the USA.  With a touchingly personal account of his faith and vision of hope for the future it was a truly inspirational conversation.         

For a full list of 2011 conversations download the programme at the bottom of the page 


There was a flurry of cultural exchange taking place in the performances this year.  Building on the success of past years, the Japanese Tea Ceremony hosted by the radiant Mio Shapely attracted record numbers.  It was wonderful to experience the gracefulness of the ceremony in the beautiful surroundings of St John’s Church.  The audience watched with bated breath as the simple task of making tea was transformed into a revered act of respect and friendship.      


There were many other amazing performances from artist from around the world.  From Austria, The Ensemble took their audience on a dance along the historical Silk Road, where Orient and Occident meets singing songs along the way.

David Benson explored the tragedy surrounding the Lockerbie terrorist attack through Jim Swire's fight for justice, asking the unanswered questions.  It was a moving performance followed by a question and answer session with Dr Jim Swire, spokesman for relatives of the victims and Professor Robert Black QC,  Robert Forrester and other members of the Justice For Megrahi  Campaign  which is still actively working to persuade the Scottish Government to re-examine the conduct of the trail of Al-Megrahi.


We were delighted to welcome back Tokara one of the most unique and versatile taiko drumming groups to come from the mountains of Nagano, Japan... bringing the powerful and jazzy rhythms of the famed Tokara-style.   They were headed by Art Lee, the first and still the only non-Japanese in the world to win Grand Champion at the Tokyo International Odaiko Championships.  


Ensemble Rivelta, Japanese masters of the Shakuhachi (Bamboo Vertical Flute) and Koto (Japanese lyre) in their first performance in the U.K perform melodies from ancient Japanese to modern Spanish tango.

For a full list of 2011 performances download the programme at the bottom of the page

Workshops and Talks

One of the most rewarding events was Messy Faith where we invited children of all faiths to engage in traditions of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) through craft activities.  After painting a beautiful picture, and the Hall floor, the children and helpers shared a meal discussing what they had learned.

A new addition to the Festival was an array of workshops and talks from Punjabi style cooking in Leith to tai chi in a church hall.  People were rolling on the floor in stiches during Laughter Yoga.  Uniting all ages this hilarious event was not only good for the soul but was also good for the body. 


Fire walking in the Salisbury Centre also turned out to be an exhilarating experience enjoyed by all.  During these workshops and talks people not only learnt new skills but hopefully made new friends.     

For a full list of 2011 workshops download the programme at the bottom of the page

Persian Tent

Persian Rug Village designed the first ever Nomadic Tent set in the historic heart of St John’s Church, Edinburgh.  There were romantic candle lit evenings where you could relax and experience a night of music, where you can let your mind conjure up scenes of vibrant bazaars while enjoying delicious Persian food.


Persian Tea House

We fed the body and the mind at the Persian Tea House.  Our friendly staff played host to audience members and customers during their time in Church Hall at St John’s.  People enjoyed the tastes and smells of Iran while partaking in one of our numerous exciting events.  They also came to socialise between events and revelling in the festival atmosphere.

Art Exhibitions

Stroke! Expressed people’s lives, losses and the emotional impact of their experiences of stoke through drawing and painting. The artists are all living with the impact of a stroke and have attended the Edinburgh Community Stroke Service at Firhill Centre Edinburgh.


There was an astounding amount of thought-provoking art at FoSP in 2011.  Conversations was produced by a number of young people journeying from a school for the deaf in Aleppo to the streets of Glasgow, discover the diversity of Deaf culture in Syria and Scotland. 


Indelible Imprints was an exhibition of original contemporary prints from artist members of Edinburgh Printmakers presented to explore creativity in printmaking as an avenue through which artists make and leave more permanent tracks in life, unforgettable traces of human existence in the lines and marks of the image. Featuring works by Edinburgh artists.


For a full list of 2011 Art Exhibitions download the programme at the bottom of the page

Wonderful Volunteers

None of these amazing events would have been possible without out our dedicated volunteers and staff.  A team of nearly fifty people from all around the world helped to make this Festival one of the most successful.  Many of the volunteers came as part of the International Voluntary Service and stayed with local families.  There was a huge sense of community and for three weeks a home was made in St John’s for everyone involved.   

To find out how you could be involved in next year's festival visit our Volunteering page 

or Performing at FoSP 2012 page

With all the excitement of the festival now fading into the distance the only thing that remains is to look to the future taking the knowledge, skills and friendships from this year and aim to turn our faith and hope into REALITY. 

Get involved!

Find out how by contacting us at:


The Festival of Spirituality and Peace

St John's Church
Princes Street
Edinburgh EH2 4BJ



Or use our online contact form.


New Director

The Festival of Spirituality & Peace has a new Director: Andrew Newman.  Andrew brings with him an African/ Scottish view on the path to peace, diversity and inclusiveness.


For information on how to contact him visit the 'Meet the team' page

Calling all Performers


FoSP is searching for innovative and thought-provoking events to be part of 2013's Festival


For more information please see the Performing page 

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