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To Absent Friends Remembrance Festival

Raising a toast to absent friends

Picture: Yucatar

The To Absent Friends festival is an annual week of remembrance across Scotland in November. The festival is named after one of the most poignant traditional toasts for raising a glass.The organisers encourage people to spend time remembering their loved ones and sharing stories about them in concert halls, pubs, hospices and family homes.

What is the To Absent Friends Festival?

The To Absent Friends festival might be described as a contemporary take on the pagan Samhain and Mexico’s Day of the Dead, positively celebrating the memory of people in our lives who are no longer with us.

The festival was launched by the The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care in 2014 to inspire a new sense of tradition in remembering people who have died. The dates were chosen to fall between between All Souls Day Day (1 November), which is also Day of the Dead and Remembrance Day (11 November), when the nation pays its respects to fallen soldiers and veterans.

What happens at the To Absent Friends Festival?

The To Absent Friends festival inspires people and communities to hold their own celebrations to mark the lives of loved ones who have died.

People reflecting on their memories at a To Absent Friends event

Photo from To Absent Friends Festival.

Events and exhibitions are held in hospices, hospitals, schools, cafes, tearooms and pubs around the country. One of the central themes of the festival is sharing stories about loved ones who have died. Everyone is invited to share their stories about the remarkable and dear people they’ve known and loved.

Sharing stories

You can share stories and pictures of people who have died, however long ago, on the website. There are special sections for footballers and rugby players.

Wall of Remembrance

You can leave brief, anonymous messages of love for people who have died on the To Absent Friends' Wall Of Remembrance.

  • “My mam, baking day on a Thursday – coming in from school and the worktops covered in cakes, pies and brownies.”
  • “To someone who could fix everything except himself.”
  • “I met my wife at the Cavendish dancing – happy days.”
  • "Eunice was fastidious about cleaning - on holiday I awoke each morning to her outside on the south terrace sweeping the sheep’s turds off the grass."
  • "Each night I light 3 candles; for absent friends, family and the love that draws us all together."
  • "Loved in life, loved beyond death. I miss you. x"

Remembrance Playlist

If there is a specific song that reminds you of a loved one who has died and the time you spent with them, you can also upload a favourite song to its Remembrance Playlist. You can include a photo of them and message about your relationship and the significance of the song. You can find more guidance on bereavement support in our Help and Advice.

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