The 2012 Festival of Spirituality and Peace has been described as a “resounding success” by audiences, participants, sponsors - and by the Scottish Government's cabinet secretary for justice, Kenny MacAskill MSP, speaking at the official closing event, held at St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh at the beginning of the week.
Mr MacAskill praised the way the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, which is backed by the Scottish Government along with a range of civic, faith and educational groups, brings together people from a wide variety of backgrounds to look at cultural and political issues from a fresh angle. It offers both a Scottish and a global outlook.
Life is about “more than money and material wellbeing”, Mr MacAskill affirmed, and the Festival of Spirituality and Peace – which has featured 400 events across 21 venues this year – is an important example of how to develop a broader perspective.
Media Coordinator Simon Barrow, who is also co-director of the beliefs and values thinktank Ekklesia, said that it had been "a vintage year" for the Festival, when other Edinburgh events have suffered as a result of competing attractions like the Olympics and the dampening impact of the recession.
Among the many highlights of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace this year have been the acclaimed South African a capella group Soweto Entsha; the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Hertzogovina talking about the Bosnian war 20 years on; a ‘Scottish Six’ series on the past, present and future of Scotland (featuring broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and author Andy Wightman), and ‘Poetry in the Persian Tent’ (which has included headliners Liz Lochhead, Jackie Kay and Marie Howe).
Also present for the closing event was Edinburgh City councillor, Melanie Main, who helped present the second Edinburgh Peace Award to former Dalry Primary School head teacher, David Fleming, for his outstanding contribution to community relations.
Kenny MacAskill MSP and Councillor Melanie Main stayed for the reception after the celebrations in the Church in order to greet the large number of people who have made the Festival of Spirituality and Peace 2012 possible, including chair Raymond Baudon, former director and founder the Rev Donald Reid, and newly announced director Katherine Newbigging.
The Festival of Spirituality and Peace is sponsored and supported by the Church of Scotland, Christian Aid, Edinburgh City Centre Churches, Edinburgh City Council, Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association, Ekklesia think-tank, the Iona Community, the Scottish Government, St John’s Episcopal Church Edinburgh, and the University of Edinburgh.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 The Festival of Spirituality and Peace (www.festivalofspirituality.org.uk/ ), now in its twelfth year, constitutes one of Edinburgh’s most established collection of events in Festival season. It ran throughout August 2012 and featured 400 performances and conversations across 21 venues, attracting around 25,000 people.
 The Festival is sponsored and supported by the Church of Scotland, Christian Aid, Edinburgh City Centre Churches, Edinburgh City Council, Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association, Ekklesia think-tank, the Iona Community, the Scottish Government, St John’s Episcopal Church Edinburgh, and the University of Edinburgh.
[43 Founded in 2001/2, Ekklesia, one of the sponsors of this year's Festival of Spirituality and Peace, examines politics, values and beliefs in a changing world, from a Christian perspective in dialogue with others. More information here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/about 
 For further comment, contact: Simon Barrow (Media Coordinator), T: 07850 120413, Email: email@example.com