Our festival takes place across the country, with diverse events being programmed and delivered by and for communities in multiple Scottish regions. We wanted to shine a light on some of these incredible regional programmes so audiences can more easily find events that are happening locally to them. Today we’re looking at highlights in the Highlands.

Still from Riptide featuring actor Tim Barrow.
Still from Riptide by Tim Barrow

Riptide is a feature film described as a “contemporary tale of schizophrenia, hope and connection”. It is also a romantic road movie set largely in the Scottish Highlands, so it is fitting that it’s screening at Lyth Arts Centre in Wick (Thursday 12 October) and Skerray Village Hall (Saturday 21 October) as part of this year’s SMHAF. The film tells the story of Jacob (Tim Barrow) who has just been discharged from a psychiatric hospital and sets off to the Highlands in search of fulfilment, where he meets a kindred spirit called Eva (Elspeth Turner). The Wick screening includes a Q&A, and in Skerray there’s live music by The Big Sing. 

Highlands art exhibition
Artworks in Revolution, Cycles and Change

Much of the Highlands programme is focused on Inverness, including Revolution, Cycles and Change, an exhibition at Eden Court curated by Creativity in Care, running until 3 November. The exhibition includes artworks by individuals supported by arts and mental health organisations, as well as Protest Art by families with something to say about services. On Thursday 12 October at 1pm Creativity and Care is also hosting a workshop in Protest Art, an easy mixed media collage experience with discussion for families with unpaid caring roles.  

A Different Gravitation
(courtesy of UHI Inverness)

On Sunday 15 October Eden Court also has A Different Gravitation: Mental Wellbeing and Skateboarding, in which UHI Inverness, Creativity in Care, Mikeysline and Highland Skate Parks Association team up for a film and discussion event that looks at the link between skateboarding and mental health. The programme includes a series of shorts and extracts from longer projects, including documentation of a collaborative photography and poetry project at Inverness Skatepark and a Q&A discussion focusing on skatepark use, physical activity and mental health. 

Also in Inverness, Saturday 14 October will see the 9th annual Walk a Mile event through the city centre to promote mental wellbeing and challenge mental health stigma. This event is family friendly and open to participants of all ages. The walk will start at 11am and be led by Northern Constabulary Community Pipe Band. 

Right of Way
Right of Way poster

Festival highlights elsewhere in the Highlands include Right of Way, an early evening event on Saturday 14 October in Dunbeath, which looks at how far the ‘right to roam’ in the countryside extends in practice – does it apply to everyone equally? The event includes an afternoon walk, Thai food by YuYie, and a screening of Right of Way, a feature-length film programme of new artists’ commissions that addresses questions of access and inclusion in the UK countryside. 

And in North Coast Visitor Centre in Thurso, look out for Change, an exhibition of artworks by 20 artists responding to the word ‘change’ and this year’s SMHAF theme of ‘revolution’. The exhibition will include a variety of media – including glass, ceramics, oils, watercolours, acrylics and drawings – and will focus on a range of subjects in relation to the theme, from climate and health, to gender and financial change.

There are lots more events to explore, browse the full Highlands programme and book tickets here.