Edinburgh Festival Fringe to expand to Victorian estate

Vogrie Country Park will host a ground-breaking campsite directly aimed at Edinburgh Festival Fringe visitors. Picture: TSPL

A Victorian estate with a baronial-style mansion house at its heart is to be turned into a vast upmarket campsite to accommodate visitors to the 70th Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer.

Vogrie Country Park in Midlothian boasts woodland walks, sweeping driveways, a miniature railway, a golf course and a walled garden.

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Now the beauty spot is set to become home to 1,000 festival-goers, with tents, camper vans, toilets, hot showers and even a “pamper pad”. Council chiefs have agreed to give over a quarter of the 250-acre park for the Great Estate event, which is described as a “cultural camping experience”.

The cost of a stay at the park during the Festival will range from around £50 for a night in a basic tent to £370 for a week-long “glamping” option in a pre-pitched bell tent.

However, entry will include access to shuttle buses running between Edinburgh city centre and the park, where live music, comedy, theatre and dance shows will be laid on for campers when they return.

The venture – billed as “a brand new way to experience the Edinburgh Festival Fringe” – is being staged by London-based events firm Timebased, which specialises in “highly creative theatrical events in non-theatrical spaces”.

However, the event is the first of its type to be organised by Timebased, whose clients have included GQ, M&S, Vogue and Amazon. It has also worked with David Beckham and Usain Bolt.

Client services director Katy Haile said: “Normally we work for brands, but we really wanted to do something that isn’t commercially-driven. This is more about connecting with the Fringe and the beautiful landscape, creating an immersive, enjoyable experience, rather than driving home marketing messages.

“We could’ve called it a festival, as there will be a full line-up of things running in parallel in the evenings, but it is also about accessing the Fringe. We want people to enjoy both.”

Richard Dodgson, founder of Timebased, said: “After nearly 20 years of producing stylish, memorable events for our clients, we’ve decided to create something very special of our own. We’re extremely confident the Great Estate will make a fantastic addition to the Fringe.”

The park is described as “a haven of tranquility” by Midlothian Council, which says it is working with the company on “a commercial basis”. It includes a number of trees brought by George Forrest, the Scot dubbed “the Indiana Jones of the plant world”.

Vogrie House, which was built in 1875 by the Dewar family, who acquired the estate in 1719, was used as a communications centre during the Cold War and is now home to a ranger service.

Bill Barron, chairman of Pathhead and District Community Association, said: “Vogrie is a beautiful place, and will be an excellent base for access to the Fringe. The local community will make the visitors very welcome.

“I hope the campers will take time to explore this special corner of Midlothian and visit the shops, bars and restaurants in Pathhead, the local churches and any events at the village hall – itself a renowned venue for Scottish and international music.”