Family Vacations: National Storytelling Festival

©2007 Tom Raymond, Fresh Air Photographics Storytellers regale audiences wiith stories, folktales, and legends at the National Storytelling Festival.

The National Storytelling Festival, now in its 34th year, traditionally is held the first weekend of October in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Anyone can tell a story, but to perform at the National Storytelling Festival, a professional storyteller might practice reciting a tale over the course of six months or more. Performance storytelling is as much an art as dancing, acting, or making music. The commitment and artistry can be seen and heard in this three-day festival devoted to the telling of traditional stories, multicultural folktales, and contemporary legends.

On Friday, the festival's kick-off day, a special tent features storytellers and stories particularly suitable for families and young people, and local schoolchildren are invited to come to listen. All ages, but especially kids, enjoy the Youthful Voices concert, where young storytellers between the ages of 5 and 18, who have been selected through a competitive process, share their finest tales.


One feature of the festival that young people find particularly delightful is the ghost story concerts that occur in a big, open-air park on Friday and Saturday nights. Audience members spread out on blankets to listen to five professional storytellers tell creepy tales.

National Storytelling Festival Information

Address: 116 W. Main St., Jonesborough, TN

Phone: 423/753-2171, 800/952-8392


Hours of Operation: First weekend of October

Admission: Full weekend, $155 adults; $135 kids


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Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.