Old Town arches to host Edinburgh Fringe shows

The vaults on Market Street, where the Hidden Door festival has been held in past years. Picture: Cate Gillon

The vaults on Market Street, where the Hidden Door festival has been held in past years. Picture: Cate Gillon

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VICTORIAN arches in Edinburgh’s Old Town are to host dozens of free shows every day during the Fringe after a developer agreed to bail out a promoter ousted from another venue.

Up to 40 shows a day will be staged in the former storage facilities on Market Street, which are being converted as part of the controversial New Waverley development.

This is a fantastic opportunity to continue to breathe new energy into this wonderful part of the Old Town

Clive Wilding

Developers Artisan Real Estate says the Fringe venture, which will be run by promoters Freestival, has been developed ahead of plans to create a permanent “arts and leisure quarter” at the arches, which lie beneath Jeffrey Street and boast spectacular views of Calton Hill.

Four of the structures, which date back to 1875, are being converted into temporary Fringe venues with capacities ranging from 50-80.

A food and drink courtyard will be created for the Fringe in front of the arches, which were deployed last year for the city’s Hidden Door festival, an annual event to transform disused spaces in the city with temporary art installations and performances.

Dan Adams, PR and marketing manager at Freestival, said: “This is quite simply one of the most exciting developments to hit the Fringe in years.

“We are creating a brand new entertainment area right in the heart of the city – yet at its core lies a stunning performance space which has remained largely unseen and untouched since mid-Victorian times.

“We will be bringing a huge variety of shows to the arches, combining Fringe veterans and established favourites with promising newcomers and family shows.”

Clive Wilding, project director of the New Waverley development, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to continue to breathe new energy into this wonderful part of the Old Town.

“The arches are amazing spaces which, for too long, have remained closed to public view - and we welcome the chance to bring them back to life through Freestival.

“We now want to continue this positive momentum by using part of the arches as a permanent entertainment venue which, linked to our new public square, will provide a new arts and leisure quarter for the city.”

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