Shock as 2011 Ghost Fest is spirited away
YOU would have thought they would have seen it coming.
But participants in this year's Mary King's Ghost Festival, including psychics, have been left stunned after organisers decided to pull the plug on the event just two months before it was due to take place.
The Ghost Fest, which has been run by The Real Mary King's Close since 2004 and was scheduled to be held between March 24 and 27, partners up with outside organisations to run events such as paranormal investigations at various locations throughout the city.
Although Mary King's Close marketing manager Lisa Robshaw said it had not ruled out a 2012 Ghost Fest, the reasons for its unexpected departure appeared shrouded in secrecy.
"Although the festival has been hugely successful to date, we felt that we need to continue to evolve as a visitor attraction and begin to focus our attention on other things," she said.
A spokesman confirmed that last year partner organisations did better out of the festival than the host company, which only manages to attract between 30 and 40 people to its Ghost Fest events each year. Although the number of festival participants has remained stable for the past three years, its total duration was scaled back from ten days to four last year.
Festival regular Dr Ciaran O'Keeffe, from the Most Haunted television series, carries out what he describes as ghost investigations with a scientific twist.
Both he and co-star Steve Parsons were scheduled to host an investigation at the event in March.
He said: "It's too early to tell if it will still go ahead," he said. "Our calendars fill up quickly with other stuff and (the Ghost Fest] is usually the first thing we block off. I'm keen to see it continued as I have built up a strong relationship with Mary King's Close."
But Dr O'Keeffe said he was concerned about any change of direction future festivals might make. "In the past they've always been very accommodating with scientific ideas, rather than just the spiritual side. If it changed to the solely spiritual role, I'm not really sure if there would be a place for what I do."
Local medium and Ghost Fest participant Ewan Irvine said he'd only been told the event was cancelled yesterday.
"I'm disappointed as it's been a real draw card," he said.
However he still plans to host a fundraising evening of psychic readings in aid of MacMillan Cancer Care in March.
Ghost hunter Paul Rowland has hosted four events at the festival, including investigations at vaults on Blair and Niddry Streets as well as at Mary King's Close.
He suspects that the organisers were having trouble attracting partners to host events, as there was no guarantee that they'd make money. "If people can't see that there's a profit to be made then they're less likely to be involved," he said. "It's a pity as Edinburgh is a great place to hold ghost hunting events and I have had several interesting encounters there."
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