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Hidden Door Festival – ‘Electric City’

Long Room Gig Photo Credit Chris Scott
© Chris Scott

Words: Caoilfhionn Maguire

Hidden Door transforms Edinburgh’s derelict street light depot into a week long artistic hub brimming with new talent and creativity.


Edinburgh has long been over-shadowed by Glasgow whose explorative and all-embracing arts and music scene is legendary; that is until the annual Hidden Door festival was born, opening up parts of Edinburgh that had never been explored by the public, both in landscape and the arts.

A non-profit organisation powered by volunteers, Hidden Door devotes itself to re-energising disused spaces in Edinburgh for one week in the year, making them accessible to established artists and budding creative talents so that they can showcase their work and use the space for trailblazing projects. Hidden Door pride themselves on this initiative, stating that “this approach is about creating new space for the arts in a broader sense, by providing innovative opportunities and a much-needed dynamic platform for artists and creative talent allowing them to engage new audiences.”

Secret Courtyard Photo Credit Chris Scott
© Chris Scott

Artists from all backgrounds and masteries gather at this intriguing yearly interdisciplinary arts festival, which began in 2014, hosting numerous bands, musicians, filmmakers, artists and poets, forming an exceptional lineup of talent for a nine day stint of festival revelling.

This year the festival returns between 27 May and 4 June to the incredible abandoned street lighting depot at the rear of King’s Stables Road, and for one last time, transforming it into “an area where the public can explore and discover live music venues, theatre spaces, bars, a cinema, and a multitude of art exhibition, installation spaces and some of Scotland’s best emerging creative talent.”

In homage to the desolate street lighting depot that will play host to this year’s art festival, the 2016 event will be called ‘Hidden Door Electric City’. This year’s lineup of talent is undeniably the best yet, with a programme brimming with creative genius from across the arts. A plethora of extraordinary artists will grace Edinburgh in the coming weeks – 50 artists, 35 bands, 15 theatre companies, 20 poets and 12 film organisations – while the festival spotlights breakthrough talents, with particular focus on those graduates from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee art schools whose work will feature in the Visual Art programme and who’ve been given “the resources to do something large scale in the dark derelict spaces”. They’ve given a special heads-up to look out for Glasgow School of Art MFA graduate, Heather Lander, whose light projections and sculptures are predicted to be one of this year’s definitive highlights.

Other talent to watch out for when roaming through the festival are acts like NZCA Lines and Rival Consoles on the Music Programme, and theatre company Magnetic North’s production of ‘Walden’ on the Theatre Programme, a show that was staged in Edinburgh in 2009 in the Stills Gallery and still sends whispers through the theatre scene in the capital.


37 Paula Petroll - Collidoscope Photo Credit Chris Scott
© Chris Scott

As recently explored by the Buzz team, poetry and spoken word artistry is on the rise in Edinburgh and this year Hidden Door have strived to give the art form the spotlight that it deserves alongside its counterparts. Said to be the greatest addition to the festival, the Poetry and Spoken Word programme features performances from such renowned poets as MacGillivray, Jamie Gordon and Ron Butlin, ex Edinburgh Makar, from whose poem ‘The Electric City of Heck’ the festival theme was born.

A tremendous array of films, animations and shorts will also be showcased in the Cinema programme.

The festival site opens at 6pm on Friday 27 May and will then open every day at noon. Be sure to take time to wander around the grounds – entry is free of charge until 6pm every day – and marvel at the work of a team of almost 100 volunteers, who’ll transform the dilapidated site into a space that embodies the theme of ‘Electric City’.

These arts festivals are tough work so Hidden Door have kindly equipped the site with 4 bars that will serve an eclectic array of craft beers and ciders and speciality gins, all from local producers. Local foodies will have resident stalls at the festival so you’re sure to spot a few of your favourites who also make appearances at the pitt.

Last year’s Hidden Door drew over 10,000 visitors to the site over the nine days of the festival. As David Martin, Creative Director says:

“Part of the idea of Hidden Door is to make connections between the creative communities of Edinburgh, and those of other cities and places too, so we are pleased to bring people from all over the country to the festival. We will make it a fantastic and significant cultural event, full of life, energy and creativity.”

Details on the full 2016 programme can be found on the Hidden Door website, including ticket prices for evening programmes.


© Chris Scott


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