Edinburgh festivals: Sights set on year-round entertainment at Assembly Roxy

William Burdett-Coutts outside the new look Assembly Roxy. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
William Burdett-Coutts outside the new look Assembly Roxy. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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THE giant Assembly venue’s first permanent home at the Fringe after 30 years is unveiled this week and could be used year-round to stage shows at Christmas and other holidays in Edinburgh, director William Burdett-Coutts said yesterday.

Assembly Roxy, in the century-old building that was once one of Edinburgh’s most popular churches, will host a season of Russian theatre among some 30 shows this festival, including performers who made their name in the popular Aurora Nova venue.

It boasts three stages including the 250-seater Roxy Central in what was the main hall as well as a basement bar, while an imposing stone stairwell boasts a photography exhibition by celebrity portraitist Ray Burmiston.

“The great thing for us is to know that we have got a secure base for the long-term future and it’s in the middle of everything, the heart of everything we are doing in the Old Town,” Mr Burdett-Coutts said yesterday.

The former Lady Glenorchy’s Church, in Roxburgh Place, could potentially serve as a base for the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, he said.

The Assembly venue bought the building, along with the former Forest Cafe, in nearby Bristo Place, in a joint deal with city restauranteur Malcolm Innes.

Both of the buildings have operated as festival venues in the past but their owner, the Edinburgh University Settlement charity, went bankrupt in 2010.

Mr Burdett-Coutts started his festival operation more than 30 years ago at the Assembly Rooms on George Street, but the purchase is his first permanent home in Edinburgh and seals a move to the south side of the city.

Mr Innes, who runs the popular Outsider restaurant, is overseeing a mix of music and food offerings at the Forest Cafe site, also a former church, which has now been renamed Checkpoint Charlie.