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Young People's Festival of Politics

Come along to a FREE day of inspiring talks, activities and workshops at the Scottish Parliament.

From panel discussions on climate change and activism, to spoken-word performance and circus skills workshops, the Young People’s Festival of Politics offers a mass of stimulating brain food, music and performance.

Saturday 30 November, from 12pm


These free 60-minute panel discussions are open to everyone

Mental Health: 12.30pm to 1.30pm

We all have mental health, just as we have physical health. Half of all mental-health problems in adulthood begin by the age of 14 and talking about the issue is crucial in tackling problems.

Join our panel of experts to learn about techniques to improve and maintain good mental health, the support and services on offer, how we can help our friends; and when to refer them to the professionals. 

See Youth Mindfulness session running immediately after this talk in the Workshops section.

Chaired by Young Scot. Panellists to be announced: 

Happiness: 1.45pm to 2.45pm

How to be happy? It’s the secret everyone wants to know the answer to. Join our upbeat panel of experts to talk about the things that make us happy and what happiness does to our mind and body.

Discover how our eating, exercise and sleeping habits, as well as who we choose to be friends with, all impact on our happiness. Guaranteed happiness boost for every audience member : ) 

See Youth Mindfulness session running immediately after this talk in Workshops section 

Chaired by Scottish Youth Parliament. Panellists to be announced:

Climate Change: 3pm to 4pm

Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg’s school strike put climate change at the top of 2019 news agenda.  Join our motivational panel of experts to learn more about how we can all get better educated, engaged and empowered to tackle climate change in our local communities and create a sustainable, low-carbon society.

If you care about your future in a more environmentally friendly world then this is a good place to start. 

Chaired by Scottish Youth Parliament. Panellists to be announced

Activism: 4.15pm to 5.15pm

The mantra “Be the change you wish to see in the world” struck a chord with thousands of young people across the world. From access to education, diversity, climate change and LGBT+ rights, young people are organising for social change and positive action to make a difference, both in their communities and globally.

Why is issue-based activism so popular and exactly how do you get involved? Be inspired by panel of issue-based activists talking about why they got involved and how you can make a difference - no matter how big or small.

Chaired by Scottish Youth Parliament. Panellists to be announced

Digital Rights: 5.30pm to 6.30pm

Know your rights! The clarion call from punk band The Clash still holds true today and Young Scot – the national charity for young people aged 11 to 26 years old in Scotland – know it too. That’s why this panel will focus on Digital Rights. From digital literacy to campaigning on your right to remove information, to knowing who holds and profits from your personal information, you’ll emerge all the wiser from this event. 

Chaired by Allan Lindsay, Young Scot. Panellists to be announced: 


All workshops are on a first come, first served basis, apart from those marked as drop-in activities.

Modo Circus with Purpose: 12.15pm to 2.30pm

Ever fancied running away with the circus? Come along to a drop-in workshop led by Aberdeenshire-based social circus organisation Modo, and have a bash at some circus skills!

You can have a go at juggling balls, spinning plates, hula hoops, tightwire and pedal-gos, helped by our fabulous team of young people.

This is a drop-in activity 

Beginners' introduction to Yoga: 12.45pm to 1.30pm

From calming the mind to creating flexibility and strength, increasing numbers of people across the world are tapping into the health benefits of yoga. This 45-minute workshop will introduce you to the basics of yoga, including breathing techniques, key postures and different types of practice. Get ready to float away at the end of the session and spread yo' zen! 

Sonnet Youth spoken-word taster workshop: 1.15pm to 2.45pm

Interested in writing and performing your own spoken word? Award-winning spoken-word artists Cat Hepburn and Kevin P Gilday - fresh from stints on BBC 6 music and BBC’s The Social - will teach some of the tools that can be used to write and perform compelling performance poetry. Linking it in with their own work, they'll use fun and engaging exercises to explore how you can find your own writing voice and transform it from page to stage.

Youth Mindfulness: Creativity of being: 1.45pm to 2.45pm and 3pm to 4pm

Do you experience overthinking? Frequent worrying thoughts or concerns? Stress in the mind or body? If the answer is yes, then then this is the workshop for you! In 60 minutes you will explore habits of mind and ways to change the very architecture of our complex brains. The key lies in training our attention through mindfulness to create new habits of focus, non-reactivity, calm and happiness. This workshop really could change your life for the better.

Difficult Conversations on Racism with Intercultural Youth Ambassadors: 2.45pm to 4.45pm

Whether you read the landmark book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race or not, this speed-dating-modelled information session around race, language and identity is a challenging but very rewarding workshop. 

Run by Intercultural Youth Scotland, this offers young people a chance to ask difficult questions in an encouraging safe space. 

This is a drop-in activity

LGBT Youth Scotland: 3.15pm to 4.15pm

Reform of the Gender Recognition Act. What is it? Where are we at? What happens next? LGBT Youth Scotland will set out why it is important for young trans people and the broader LGBTI community that the legislation is reformed.  The workshop will cover what LGBT Youth Scotland is campaigning for, the background to gender recognition, the recent consultation and the forthcoming legislative process. Come along and find out how you can get involved.

EveryBODY Matters: 4.15pm to 5.15pm

SHE Scotland's interactive body-image workshop will support body positivity and begin to create a change of mindset for girls and women. The workshop’s aim is to understand the negative feelings associated with body image and develop the skills to make the switch from negative into positive feelings instead. 

Music and Performance

Gus Harrower

Fresh from his finalist nomination at the BBC Radio Scotland Singer-Songwriter Awards 2019, Gus Harrower is a classical and jazz trained pianist with an incredible pop sensibility. Influenced by his parents’ record collection full of Billy Joel, Elton John, and Del Amitri songs, Gus’s music nods an acknowledgement to all of the above while carving out his own music style.

Intercultural Youth Scotland

This impressive line-up of gifted young DJs, singers and spoken-word artists includes rising talent and lyrical star AD3, 14-year-old multi-instrumentalist and singer Omar James, DJ NSB, who may be Scotland’s first female Sikh DJ, and Raheel Zaki, who has risen through the ranks as a performance poet of note. This will be a memorable set.

Jordy Deelight, Dean Gummer and Amy L’Amour

All three of the artistes are part of a drag troupe who perform with aplomb across Scotland hosting and performing a variety of shows. Citing Judy Garland, Madonna and Glee's Rachel Berry as their glamorous musical influences, they aim to celebrate comedy and theatre in perfect harmony.

Ross Arthur

Ross is a charismatic Edinburgh-based musician with a growing fanbase following the popularity of his single Soar on BBC Radio Scotland and his catalogue of rip-roaring covers stretching from Elvis through to George Ezra.  Not to be missed.


Hailing from North America and across the UK, this talented band of musicians converged in Fife to make some of the finest country, folk and bluegrass sounds around. Taking their name from the sea creatures of Orcadian mythology who use their shapeshifting abilities to charm unsuspecting humans, Finfolk will charm you just like their mythological counterparts.

Cameron Ross and Sean Gray 

A superstar duo from the traditional folk world.  Radio 2 Young Folk Award finalist Cameron Ross teams up with Sean Gray, the multi-instrumentalist graduate from the award-winning Paul McKenna Band. Between them Cameron and Sean have toured the globe playing with the likes of Phil Cunningham and The Waterboys. Catch this rare set from the finest young traditional musicians around. 

The Lassie Piper 

Since learning how to play the bagpipes aged 11, Eilidh Alexander has become one of Scotland’s most in-demand young musicians. From performing alongside Sir Paul McCartney at Hampden Park in 2012, teaching pop star Anastasia and X Factor UK judges how to play the pipes, and performing The Last Post at Ypres, Eilidh has carved out an enviable reputation as both a teacher and performer. She will welcome everyone at the entrance to the Parliament building.

Times of performances to be confirmed


Need time out? Look no further than the retro games of a giant Connect 4, a big-screen Wii Mario Kart, and an old-fashioned pool table.

If you prefer the great outdoors, then pop out and see Owl Magic in the Members’ Garden. Owl Magic are the largest travelling owl display team in Scotland and will be giving talks and running bird-handling sessions. 

These activities will run from 12 noon until 6pm

Microplastics in our waters

Microplastics are threatening the health of our water. These tiny bits of plastic from earbuds, clothes, and bottles appear to be infiltrating everything from beaches to our lochs. This activity will teach you all about the formation of the tiny plastics; examine samples of sand from Edinburgh beaches; and ask what we can all do to avoid producing more microplastics. 

This activity will be run by Leith Labs Explores...

Is laughter really the best medicine?

There’s bound to be a queue at this activity. Where else would you be offered free chocolate or a giggly video clip in the name of science? Take part in this mock clinical trial to see what it is like to test a new medicine and conclude whether chocolate or laughter makes us happy.

This activity will be run by the University of Edinburgh


Join the human experiment to prove that creativity benefits the brain and general well-being. From taking part in a Canadian Brain Dance to examining 3D brain-scans and music technology, this hands-on activity will convince you of the huge role creativity plays in making happy humans.

This activity will be run by ScienceCeilidh 

Project De-STRESS

Fresh from its hit status at the Edinburgh Science Family Day earlier this year, this project by Sarah Payne is based on the human ability to relax and recover in a built environment. Try out your design and engineer skills and invent your own urban soundscape.

This activity will be run by Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

The NanoSafety Research Group

A cutting-edge research group who test the potential human and environmental toxicity of nanomaterials found in food, energy, environment, security, textiles, and medicine. This interactive activity is a basic introduction to toxicology including ‘taking a cellfie’ to visualise your own cells under the microscope and observe water fleas and zebrafish under lab-culture conditions. Importantly, the researchers are at the forefront of those developing alternative models to the traditional toxicity tests which rely on the use of animals.

This activity will be run by Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh


There will be information stalls from the following organisations, and others to be announced:

  • Scottish Parliament engagement teams
  • Electoral Commission
  • Haggeye (RNIB)
  • LGBT Youth Scotland
  • National Autism Society Scotland
  • Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Young Scot  

Food and drink

There will be a range of hot and cold food on sale, such as soup, burgers, curry and nachos, and including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free options.

Water stations will be situated throughout the campus so do bring personal water bottles along on the day. A selection of hot and cold drinks will also be on sale.