Trip to the light fantastic

It promises to become one of the iconic images of Edinburgh's festival season.

Every morning in August, a giant PVC sculpture spanning 800 square metres will be inflated at George Square Gardens.

The "luminarium" will then host a massive sound and light show that promises to transport Festival audiences to another world, before being deflated again at the end of each day.

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The structure - named Mirazozo - will be the centrepiece of a new village of three spiegeltents housing a range of cabaret, theatre and comedy within the Edinburgh University-owned gardens. Three venues in university buildings on the edge of the gardens also feature in the new festival village, being created by Assembly Theatre.

The company, which has operated the Assembly Rooms on George Street for the last 30 years, today unveiled full details of its plans for its new home - which it moved to after failing to secure the contract from the city council to continue to operate the Assembly Rooms.

William Burdett-Coutts, artistic director of the Assembly Theatre, said: "The interesting thing is it will be a mix between indoor and outdoor space and it will create a festival village around the square, which is quite exciting for us. It came about through circumstance rather than design but we are now confident it will work well.

"The Festival is all about atmosphere and fun and all the family joining in together. The great thing about Mirazozo is it's a totally different environment to going along to a show."

Mirazozo, which has been created in Nottingham, was based at the Sydney Opera House earlier this year. Luminous seam lines within the structure create a lattice of neon-like light.

Visitors can walk through, sit or lie down within the maze of winding paths and soaring domes of the sculpture.

The village will also include three traditional hand-crafted spiegeltents sourced from across Europe: Teatro Spiegeltent, the Dans Paleis and the Bosco Theatre.

Performers at the new venues include well-known names such as Al Murray, Dave Gorman and Paul Daniels.

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If the new village is successful this year it could become the permanent home of Assembly Theatre - and may even be expanded in future years.

Mr Burdett-Coutts said: "Sales are going very well; we are on a par with last year at this time which, given the change in our circumstances, is fantastic. "We hope that this is our future now and we are investing a lot of money and energy so that it happens."

Michael Harris, producer and programmer at Assembly Theatre, said: "We are really trying to build a base down here and develop a presence that people want to spend time in. "We're trying to create a better experience for people."