Skip to main content
Festival of Politics Logo Scottish Parliament Festival of Politics Website home
Festival of Politics
19-23 August 2024

The Festival of Politics

In partnership with Scotland's Futures Forum

The Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics is happening in August, with a five-day programme of over 30 events, in the home of Scottish politics at Holyrood.  
Our 20th Festival will take place between Monday 19 August to Friday 23 August and promises informed debate on a range of social, political, and environmental issues facing the world today.  

Leading experts from the worlds of politics, the arts, business, the media, academia and the third sector will join us for a deep dive into issues dominating the news agenda. Join in and have your say.

All events:

Monday 19 August at 13:45

Dementia – the power of dance and playlists

Research demonstrates that participatory art forms empower the artist in everyone and improve the quality of life for people living with dementia and their families. Join the panel to discuss the science behind the power; the first-hand experience; and how carers and families can benefit.

Monday 19 August at 16:00

Healing Arts Scotland performance with Edinburgh International Festival

Join this incredible free performance to mark Healing Arts Scotland’s country-wide, week-long activation, celebrating and advocating for improved physical, mental and social health through the arts.

Monday 19 August at 17:00

In conversation with Benedetta Tagliabue with a performance by Roberto Cacciapaglia

Join the Presiding Officer in conversation with Benedetta Tagliabue, architect, partner and widow of the visionary creative Enric Miralles, who designed the Scottish Parliament building. (BSL interpreted)

Tuesday 20 August at 10:45

The power of age-friendly communities and the arts

Social isolation impacts all generations, but new intergenerational communities across Scotland are creating spaces and opportunities for people of all ages to, live, work and play together. Hear about the benefits of social cohesion and the role of the arts in bridging social divides, building trust, combatting ageism and inequality.

Tuesday 20 August at 11:00

Who controls AI – ethics and legality?

While politicians aim to regulate AI, it’s a few big tech companies in the driving seat. How do we balance factoring in accountability and public deliberation on ethical AI and simultaneously regulate without stifling innovation? And who can ensure democratic global buy-in on international regulations?

Tuesday 20 August at 11:30

Health creators: health inequalities in Scotland

Health inequalities mean that people living with social, economic or physical disadvantages are more likely to experience ill-health and die earlier. The panel will discuss the right to health, barriers, and access to health services as they impact race, prison population, poverty and the role data plays in tackling health inequalities.

Tuesday 20 August at 12:45

20 years of Holyrood

Join the panel to hear more about the inspiration, the drama and the behind-the-scenes stories of a Parliament, the main masterpiece of Enric Miralles and his Barcelona studio, that is intended to be viewed as ‘growing out of the land’. (BSL interpreted)

Tuesday 20 August at 15:15

What is local government for?

Amidst rising demand, local governments are ringing the emergency finance bell. However, lessons can be learned from global counterparts adopting radical and imaginative solutions as well as ensuring the health of local democracy. (BSL interpreted)

Tuesday 20 August at 15:30

Home sweet home?

Housing appears to have transformed from provision of a warm, safe, and secure ‘home’ to ‘private asset’. With the Scottish government declaring a ‘housing emergency’ due to many complex reasons and with a 130% increase in children in temporary accommodation, it’s time for radical solutions.

Tuesday 20 August at 17:30

Place and displacement: reconnecting to the world through the arts

This panel will discuss how the arts have been used to help reconnect forcibly displaced peoples cope with their new circumstances, process their sense of loss, and begin the journey to imagining a more hopeful future.

Wednesday 21 August at 10:45

AI and creativity

Machines can generate art, music, literature and apparently many of us can’t tell the difference between human or machine creativity. Are creative humans still relevant or is generative AI an overhype?

Wednesday 21 August at 11:00

Why do we need whistle-blowers?

Despite risk to reputation, livelihood and even life, what motivates whistle-blowers to disclose official information, corruption, or fraud to a wider public?

Wednesday 21 August at 11:30

Space – launching Scotland’s ambitions

As Norway, Sweden, and Germany all prepare for launch activity this summer, how ready is Shetland’s Spaceport, or indeed other Scottish spaceports for launch?

Wednesday 21 August at 13:00

Jobs and the just transition – back to the 80s?

What can the 1980s miner’s strike teach us as we move through a ‘just transition’ and ensure communities dependent on fossil fuels don’t face the same challenges?

Wednesday 21 August at 13:15

Are standards in public life really declining?

With the Scottish Parliament marking 25 years, it is timely to discuss the public’s view of the integrity and ethics of those in public life such as politicians, the media, and the justice system. (BSL interpreted)

Wednesday 21 August at 15:15

U.S. elections – Trump or Biden 2.0?

Americans are apparently concerned about the fitness and ethics respectively of both their Presidential candidates. With everything from the economy to the Middle East influencing voting intentions, how will November’s election play out and what will the impact be for the rest of the world? (BSL interpreted)

Wednesday 21 August at 15:30

Making amends for the Empire – has Scotland done enough?

Join us to hear about ongoing work to address the history of Scotland’s involvement in transatlantic slavery and the Empire, and to question whether enough is being done to confront and atone for Scotland’s imperial past.

Thursday 22 August at 10:45

Global politics in 2024 – testing times ahead?

From tensions and conflict in Ukraine to Israel/Palestine, the continued rise of India – and China, global elections, including the U.S.; global leaders must also consider a climate crisis, populism, and the
impact of AI in an increasingly polarised world.

Thursday 22 August at 11:00


Join the panel to discuss how young people can be supported in their understanding of healthy relationships, safe spaces, and consent. (BSL interpreted)

Thursday 22 August at 11:30

GameApocalypse now: can games solve Scotland’s digital skills crisis?

Despite addressing the digital poverty gap, substantive digital industry skills remain in crisis. Could videogames be the secret weapon to ensuring Scotland’s new generation of digital pioneers?

Thursday 22 August at 13:00

Sexism in the workplace

How can structural challenges from microaggressions to blocked opportunities, impact women in the workplace? Can positive leadership and zero tolerance ensure everyone feels safe and empowered at work?

Thursday 22 August at 13:15

Not the end of the world?

Data says a rethink on everything from the environment to biodiversity and plastics is overdue. While the problems are huge, there is hope that technology, significant societal transformation and a narrative switch could have the world back on track. (BSL interpreted)

Thursday 22 August at 15:15

Reading between the lines: information literacy

We are bombarded by information that competes for our attention and money. This panel asks: how can we nurture responsible and ethical consumers of information in the digital age?

Thursday 22 August at 15:30

25 years of the Scottish Parliament – where are the young women?

Women represent 52% of the Scottish population but only 46% of MSPs. What needs to be done in the next 25 years to break down barriers to political participation and increase representation?

Thursday 22 August - all day

Join the Climate Café ®

A pop-up, safe space to chat and act on climate change. No need to be a climate expert as all perspectives are welcomed in a very inclusive space. Free refreshments and biscuits.

Friday 23 August at 10:45

Mental health and young people

Who is using music, dance, visual art, and creative expression to help the health and healing of young people experiencing mental health issues, and how?

Friday 23 August at 11:00

AI – deep fake politics

There seems to be an alarming rise in convincing deep fake AI generated misinformation and its potential to destabilise democratic systems. Who will establish norms on reliability, privacy and accountability on political communication?

Friday 23 August at 11:30

Raising the curtain on St Andrew’s Day

Explore how we increase the relevance, resonance and opportunity provided by having a patron saint celebrated both in Scotland and internationally.

Friday 23 August at 13:00

Incel culture

The rise of ‘incel’ (involuntary celibate) culture where ideologies of blame, distrust and hatred towards women, have gained huge traction online. What tools are educators and youth workers using to address this?

Friday 23 August at 13:15

Elections in 50 countries

Billions of voters go to the polls across the globe this year, so what are the implications for geopolitics, human rights, and international relations? (BSL interpreted)

Friday 23 August at 15:15

Responsible debate

As the world becomes more polarised it is becoming clearer that the way we debate and discuss important issues is preventing us from reaching solutions. How can we debate and discuss in a way that deals with the important challenges facing us?

Friday 23 August at 16:00

The Scottish Parliament at 25

The Scottish Parliament has passed world-leading legislation and imbued a self-confidence in its electorate since 1999. So, what are its strengths and achievements and where can it do better? (BSL interpreted)

How to find us

Please try to arrive at least 20 minutes prior to event to allow time to pass through security at the Scottish Parliament.

Getting to Holyrood by bus

Visitors can use the Lothian Buses service numbers 35 (nearest stop Canongate).

There are a number of other bus routes a short walking distance away. Details of all local bus services can be obtained from Lothian Buses.

Getting to Holyrood by train

Getting to Holyrood by road

Updates about the Festival of Politics

If you'd like to keep up to date with the Festival, please submit your name and email address below. (You can unsubscribe easily at any time).