Whatever the weather, Buddies can expect a warm welcome at Refugee Festival Scotland – and a programme of colourful events showcasing refugee arts and culture.

This year’s festival runs from 17th June – 26th June. From live music and dance to art exhibitions, film screenings, football tournaments and family-friendly picnics, the festival has something for everyone.

In a year that’s seen millions of people around the world forced from their homes by conflict and persecution, Refugee Festival Scotland aims to bring people from different backgrounds together to celebrate the many ways refugees contribute to life in Scotland. This year’s theme is storytelling in all its forms – from music, dance, theatre and film to visual art, cookery and conversation.

The diverse programme includes contributions from artists and performers who came to Paisley and Renfrewshire seeking refugee protection and the communities that have welcomed them.

Scottish Refugee Council Chief Executive, Sabir Zazai said: “Refugee Festival Scotland is an opportunity to celebrate the positive difference that refugees make to our communities and the warm welcome that Scotland has always offered to people seeking sanctuary.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to celebrate diversity and share the stories of people who have made Scotland their home.

“This has been a year of terrible stories. War in Ukraine, unrest in Afghanistan, families stranded and separated by bureaucracy, Rwandan detention centres and people left with no option but to risk their lives on dangerous journeys in a desperate bid to reach a place of safety.

“But there are other, happier stories, and these are the ones that Refugee Festival Scotland aims to tell. Stories of friendship, resilience, hope and new beginnings. So please join us for this exciting programme of events, make new friends, have fun, and show the world that Scotland welcomes refugees.”

The festival celebrates the many ways refugees contribute to Scotland’s cultural life by showcasing the food and drink, music and dance, language and art that people bring with them when they settle in Scotland. The line-up brings people from different backgrounds and cultures together to meet, mix and get to know each other better.

Refugee Festival Scotland is produced by Scottish Refugee Council. Refugee Festival Scotland takes place each year in the run up to World Refugee Day on Monday 20th June. Details of the 2022 festival programme are now online: www.refugeefestivalscotland.co.uk.

Upcoming events:

Stories to Tell, Characters to Meet – Scripting, Sketching, Sensing, Sharing

The children of the Serve2020 Zoom Club invite you to join them in person (and online) for a very special celebration. They will be launching their new story books, filled with characters of their own creation and narratives you will never have heard before.

Come along to the launch to see the children’s stories in booklet form and browse an exhibition of framed artwork depicting characters from their stories. You can also join the children online for a series of Zoom Club events where you can find out more about their stories, characters and artwork

Background: The Zoom Club launched during the first lockdown, to help children from Renfrewshire’s Syrian community stay connected during the pandemic. During the last year, they have organised and presented a five-course Burns Supper; read all about pantomimes and visited the theatre to see one – “Oh, yes they have!”; learned circus tricks and visited the Big Kids’ Circus; held an Italian film night; taken part in creative writing workshop at Paisley Book Festival; and so much more…

Launch event: Saturday, 18 June, 3-4pm 

Where: Glenburn Baptist Church, 91 Braehead Road, Glenburn, Paisley PA2 8NF

Zoom events: 

Zoom Club Juniors: Monday, 20 June, 3.30-4pm

Zoom Club: Tuesday, 21 June, 5-6pm

Zoom Club Too: Wednesday, 22 June, 5-6pm

How to take part: To register for the launch event or online Zoom Clubs, email aggela@Serve2020.org

Empowering Refugees

Join Renfrewshire Effort to Empower Communities (REEM) for an action-packed afternoon filled with food, entertainment and storytelling. Members of Renfrewshire’s Syrian community will share their stories of coming to Scotland, from how their journeys began to the present day. Come along to hear about their experiences, from the people and communities that have welcomed them to the contribution these New Scots are making to life in Renfrewshire.

When: Saturday, 18 June from 1-5pm

Where: Renfrewshire Effort To Empower Minorities, 14 Wellmeadow Street, Paisley, PA12EE

One Millie, All Nations 

This exciting series of events, run by Sewing2gether All Nations in partnership with Journeys in Design: Our Linen Stories, reflects on the rich textile heritage of Paisley and of the New Scots that have settled here.

One Millie, All Nations: Exhibition

At the heart of the programme is an exhibition of Millie dolls, hand sewn by members of the group. Linen mill workers, known as ‘Millies’ formed the backbone of the first industry to emerge from Scotland, Ireland and much of Europe: hard-working, multi-tasking and super-skilled. At the peak of linen trading in the early 20th century, tens of thousands of women worked as Millies.

The Millie dolls featured in this exhibition are a tea towel tribute to textile workers from Scotland and around the world, capturing the legacy of grandmothers, mothers and sisters who have passed their sewing skills down from generation to generation.

Millie dolls will be on display at Paisley Central Library. Drop in to view the exhibition at the following dates and times.

Wednesday, 22 June: 2pm-4pm

Thursday, 23 June: 10am-4pm (closed between 1-2pm)

Friday, 24 June: 10am -4pm (closed between 1-2pm)

Saturday, 25 June: 2pm-5pm


A family-friendly textile workshop where you can find out more about the Millie dolls on display and how they were made, then have a go at creating some textile memories of your own.

When: Saturday, 25 June from 2.30pm-4.30pm

Where: Paisley Central Library, 15 Mill St, Paisley, PA1 1ND

How to take part: This is a drop in event

Twilight Talk: Creative Journeys for New Scots 

This talk examines the role of design in our cultural landscape. The panel of speakers includes weavers from Syria and Yemen who are now based in Scotland.

When: Thursday, 23 June, from 6.30pm-8pm

Where: Mossvale Community Church, 60 Greenock Road, Paisley, PA3 2LE

How to take part: email sewing2getherallnations@gmail.com

Linen Walk by Design

This heritage tour, led by John Ennis from Journeys in Design, will cover key locations in the town’s textile history and share some of the stories behind them. The walk leaves from Paisley Central Library, where the exhibition of Millie dolls is on display and ends at Sma’Shot Cottages

When: Friday, 24 June, from 2.30pm-4pm

Where: Paisley Central Library, 15 Mill St, Paisley, PA1 1ND

How to take part: Come along on the day. Please arrive before 2.30pm

Home Sweet Scotland: World Foodie Boogie

OneRen is holding a family friendly mini festival featuring a rich global fusion of food, music, crafts, stalls and Jambo! Radio.

When: 1.30-4pm

Where: The Students’ Union, UWS, Storie Street, Paisley, PA1 2HB.

How to take part: Tickets cost £3 but free tickets are available for people on low incomes.

To find out more and book your tickets, go to: oneren.org

Home Sweet Scotland: Evening of Music

A diverse line up of exciting new talent curated by Matt Hickman and headlined by his band, Brownbear. All of the performers have lived experience of growing up differently in Scotland. This event is designed to have something for everyone and to be welcoming to all.

When: Sunday, 26 June, from 8pm until late

Where: The Bungalow, 15 Shuttle Street, Paisley, PA1 1YD

How to take part: Tickets cost £12 (£10 for concessions). Book through the OneRen website: oneren.org

Main Photo: Museum of Things artists Yamama, Kidisti and Paria, and friends Sekou and Syeda, pose next to the Refugee Festival Scotland 2022 artwork which they designed