Festival review: Hidden Door Festival, Edinburgh

It’s an event which in every way lives up to its name and its billing.

Hidden Door Festival, Edinburgh. Picture: Chris Scott

Hidden Door Festival - Market Street, Edinburgh


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For a little over a week, one of the most idiosyncratic secret spaces in Edinburgh – literally a series of two dozen “hidden doors”, a long procession of arched vaults running along the space below Jeffrey Street which will no doubt have registered with most people in the city on a subliminal level only – have been thrown open to the public.

The result is a playground of art, film (both free throughout the day) and music (ticketed in the evening) which offers a new experience for each of the festival’s nine days.

As a sample, Hidden Door’s second day saw Edinburgh band Broken Records curate an evening of music on two internal stages which are atmospherically lit and satisfyingly reverberating, with Rod Jones’ Birthday Suit, Adam Stafford and Plastic Animals also contributing to an indie-centric line-up. Further along the “art walk”, ever-decreasing chambers reveal films curated by Edinburgh College of Art students; a bar hung with a striking plastic chandelier and a flickering neon ceiling arrangement; an imagined burial site for strange creatures to which the audience can contribute their own doomy, reverb-laden soundtrack; and a series of pipes collecting the mildew from the street above.

The only disappointment is that the event will only be held this year in this location, with these vaults earmarked for redevelopment at some point in the near future, given the proximity of the Caltongate project. It’s a shame, but not entirely disastrous given that the organisers have an overview of all the plentiful hidden spaces in the city centre and the clear will and ingenuity to make something as unique as this happen. Experience a very special event up to its closing date this Saturday.

• Runs until 5 April