Open-air film screenings suggested in £25m revamp of Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens

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Open-air cinema screenings beneath Edinburgh Castle are being proposed as part of a £25 million revamp of West Princes Street Gardens.

The al-fresco events have been proposed for a site beside the 19th-century Ross Fountain in a future blueprint of the park.

West Princes Street Gardens. Picture: JPIMedia

West Princes Street Gardens. Picture: JPIMedia

The proposals have emerged in plans put out for consultation for The Quaich Project ahead of a formal planning application being lodged early next year.

READ MORE: £25m revamp could see Edinburgh Tattoo and other big events beamed to Princes St Gardens

The project, backed by Hollywood star Alan Cumming and rock singer KT Tunstall, has been set up by the city council and the Ross Development Trust, which was created by hotel developer Norman Springford to help overhaul the gardens.

Backers of The Quaich Project, which launched an international fundraising campaign with Cumming and Tunstall in New York last month, say they want to “reimagine West Princes Street Gardens as a space for all to celebrate and enjoy in new ways”.

The site, which is also earmarked for possible farmers’ markets in the new masterplan, is close to the home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Lothian Road.

A weekend of free open-air film screenings has been staged in St Andrew Square the weekend before the film festival begins in recent years. However, a recent clampdown on the staging of events in the privately-owned garden has led to the axing of the city’s festive ice rink. Previous film screenings have been held in the Grassmarket and on The Mound.

The Ross Development Trust has previously said that major sporting events could be beamed into the gardens in future. The producer of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Brigadier David Allfrey, has also suggested highlights of the event could be shown.

The Quaich Project’s consultation document suggests “inspiration can be taken from other leading cities to create a family space that Scotland’s capital city can be proud of”.

It adds: “A hard-standing area will provide a suitable setting for the Ross Fountain as well as accommodating potential future uses such as outdoor film screenings or farmers markets.”

David Ellis, managing director of the Ross Development Trust, who is leading The Quaich Project, said: “These are just suggestions that have been mentioned by groups that we have been speaking to.

“They’re not our suggestions – they are suggestions that have been put to us. It will not be up to us to decide what events are held in the gardens. That will be up to the council.”

Only around 30 events, including a series of “Summer Sessions” pop and rock concerts, the fireworks finale of the Edinburgh International Festival and a Hogmanay concert are currently staged in the gardens throughout the year due to the run-down condition of the existing Ross Bandstand, restrictions over access for lorries to the gardens and a lack of indoor facilities.

However the city council has suggested that another 200 new events of various sizes could be staged there once the transformation of the gardens is complete, including music, dance, theatre, children’s entertainment and comedy. 
American rock star Amanda Palmer launched a One O’Clock Fun, a new series of lunchtime events, at the bandstand last week.