Be inspired to see the world differently at this year’s Festival of Politics


The three day Festival of Politics takes place in the unique setting of the Scottish Parliament from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 August.

In a world that is constantly changing, this year the Festival takes us on an international journey.  With politics shaping how we live, our opinions and attitudes, the Festival’s 2015 programme helps make sense of the world around us.  

The Festival programme will feature contributions from all over the world including a keynote speech from one of the most popular political philosophers of his generation, Harvard Professor Michael J Sandel.  

Announcing the 2015 programme Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Tricia Marwick MSP, said:

“Scotland has always been an outward looking nation.  This year we want people to be inspired to see the world differently and generate conversations on the international issues that are dominating the headlines.   

“From migration to freedom of speech, our 2015 Festival programme is guaranteed to look into some of the most talked about topics of the day.” 

Sir Tom Devine will deliver a lecture on Scotland’s historic links to slavery.  Sir Tom said of the Festival: 

“I am delighted to return to speak at the Festival of Politics which is now such a well-established forum for the exchange of views on key topics. This year's theme is especially to be welcomed as it encourages both speakers and audiences to look outwards and examine Scottish issues within a broad international context.” 

Professor Michael J Sandel said of his first appearance at the Festival:  

“It is a great privilege to be invited to speak in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament for the Festival of Politics.  I take special pleasure in knowing that my lecture is in association with the John Smith Centre for Public Service.  In keeping with the celebratory and democratic spirit of the occasion, I look forward to engaging the audience in a lively discussion of 'Public Service and the Future of Democracy.”  

Our Festival Café Bar will include a packed programme of music, poetry and dance.  To reach out to the next generation of voters, our brand new Festival Youth Café will also have a number of workshops taking place on subjects such as vlogging and cartooning.  

In a first for the Festival of Politics, this year will also include a film strand with a number film screenings on topics that festivalgoers have just discussed including showings of 12 Years a Slave and Made in Dagenham

Details of the Programme and tickets can be found below:

  • Tickets will go on sale online via at 10.30 am on Tuesday 23 June.
  • A limited number of tickets are available via the Scottish Parliament in person and via telephone on 0131 348 5200.
  • Full details of the festival programme are available from
  • Hard copies of the programme are available from most Waterstones and Blackwells bookstores.

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Festival of Politics 2015

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  • Telephone enquiry line: 0800 092 7500 or 0131 348 5395 (Gàidhlig)
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