Jonesborough, Tenn. – Tickets are on sale now for the 49th annual National Storytelling Festival, the world’s premier event of its kind. The Festival will stream live Oct. 1-2, with options to watch the program as it unfolds or access the archived videos for up to two weeks afterward.

The Festival’s producer, the International Storytelling Center, developed its state-of-the-art online platform last year in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The event was widely praised as a success, drawing a new audience in addition to longtime in-person attendees.

“We put a tremendous amount of work into producing a world-class event under the challenging circumstances of last year, and were delighted with the results,” Director of Programs Susan O’Connor said. “Our focus has always been on the audience experience, paying close attention to the details that make watching the Festival online an enjoyable and seamless event.”

A beloved tradition since 1973, the three-day celebration of the world’s oldest art form usually requires listeners to travel to Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee. ISC plans to resume the Festival in person for 2022, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the event.

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 modern life. The lineup includes more than 40 performers, including industry icons like Donald Davis, Diane Feraltte, and Bil Lepp, award-winning musicians like Josh Goforth and Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, and an array of international voices.

Tickets are $75 for a weekend pass, which covers the entire household. The charge includes admission to all special events, including a special Ghost Stories program.

Viewers who want to sharpen their own storytelling skills can sign up for a selection of pre-Festival workshops led by Tom Lee, Anne Rutherford, and Sue O’Halloran. These intensive workshops are scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday 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 Friday, Oct. 1. The shows will remain available through Sunday, October 17—giving all audience members a full two weeks to watch (or rewatch!) all the footage.

“Every year, we look forward to coming together to celebrate storytelling traditions from all over the world,” ISC President Kiran Singh Sirah said. “It’s a privilege to offer our audience that opportunity in this expanded and more accessible form. Stories have a transformative power that’s always essential, maybe now more than ever.”

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, Tennessee Humanities, Niswonger Foundation, Ballad Health, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, Theatre Bristol, The Frist Foundation, Alliance for Peacebuilding, Acton Family Giving, Barter Theatre, and South Arts.

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