Tickets on Sale for the Newly Reimagined National Storytelling Festival 

From Kiran Singh Sirah, President, International Storytelling Center –

Tickets are on sale now for the 48th annual National Storytelling Festival, the world’s premier storytelling production. The online event, which will stream live on October 1-3, is expected to draw thousands of new storytelling fans from around the world.

The one-year-only shift to a digital format, while due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will likely permanently expand access to the Festival even after regular operations resume in 2021.

“We had always planned to develop a high-quality portal for online access to the Festival,” says Director of Programs Susan O’Connor. “Organizationally, we’ve looked at this as an opportunity to expand our audience, deepen our mission, and extend our reach.”

A beloved tradition since 1973, the three-day celebration of the world’s oldest art form previously required listeners to travel to Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town. This year, the National Storytelling Festival will bring storytelling to the people, wherever they are.

Much like the live event, the digital Festival will include storytelling performances designed to showcase rich oral traditions from all over the world, from traditional tales to personal stories about contemporary life. The lineup includes more than 30 performers, including fan favorites like Donald Davis, Sheila Arnold, Carmen Deedy and Kevin Kling; award-winning musicians like David Holt and the Reverend Robert Jones, and special guest Fred Haise, who was an astronaut on Apollo 13.

The ticket price is $50 for a weekend pass, which covers the entire household. The charge includes admission to all special events, including Ghost Stories and an after-hours concert with humorist and storyteller Antonio Sacre.

For viewers who want a quick storytelling fix instead of committing to the full weekend, tickets to some special events can be purchased separately. See the International Storytelling Center’s website for more details.

Viewers who want to sharpen their own storytelling skills can sign up for a selection of pre-Festival workshops led by Kim Weitkamp, Noa Baum, Lyn Ford, and Elizabeth Ellis. These intensive workshops are scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday before the Festival. All interactive sessions will be live on Zoom, so pre-registration is required and space is limited. Each workshop is priced separately.

All Festival performances will air live as scheduled starting Thursday, October 1. The shows will remain available until Saturday, October 10—giving all audience members a full week to watch (or rewatch!) all the footage.

“Storytelling has always been an important way for people to share and connect, and I truly believe that’s more important now than ever,” says ISC President Kiran Singh Sirah. “We’ve pushed ourselves as an organization to develop an event that will spark joy and get people thinking about how they can better learn from and listen to one another. Storytelling as an art form has been around for thousands of years because it gives people what they need, when they need it. I think we’re all looking forward to a little bit of magic this year.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 800-952-8392.

The National Storytelling Festival is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Tennessee Arts Commission, Humanities Tennessee, Niswonger Foundation, Ballad Health, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, East Tennessee Foundation, South Arts, East Tennessee State University, and The Frist Foundation.