First acts revealed for Edinburgh's Hidden Door festival at new waterfront site

Organisers of Edinburgh’s Hidden Door festival have revealed the first performers who will be taking part in this year’s event when it relocates to a new home in the shadow of the historic Granton gasholder.

Hidden Door creative director David Martin at the site for this year's festival in September.
Hidden Door creative director David Martin at the site for this year's festival in September.

Two music stages will host five days of back-to-back bands against the backdrop of the illuminated industrial landmark in September.

An empty warehouse on the either side of West Shore Road will play host to theatre and dance productions, spoken word artists and visual art installations.

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The festival, which has been staged in abandoned Old Town vaults, a former lighting depot and the historic Leith Theatre building, is being planned so that it will be able to go ahead even if physical distancing restrictions are still in place.

Hidden Door creative director David Martin at the site for this year's festival in September.

It is hoped around 750 festivalgoers will flock to Granton for each day of the event, which will be opened by Hebridean indie-folk-pop favourite Pictish Trail and a revival of an outdoor performance staged by musician and composer Esther Swift on the city’s waterfront during lockdown.

Hidden Door headliners include Manchester indie band The Orielles, London-based afro-funk outfit Ibibio Sound Machine, singer-songwriter and visual artist Hannah Diamond and dance-electronica star Rival Consoles.

Other highlights are expected to include Broken Records singer Jamie Sutherland, electronic pop duo Super Inuit, jazz fusion outfit Astrosnax, post-punk band Bikini Body and alt-pop duo Post Coal Prom Queen.

Acts will be performing on the two main music stages – one facing the gasholder and the other looking out to the Firth of Forth – at different times so audiences will not have to decide who to watch, while light shows will transform the gasholder in time with the music.

The historic Granton Gas Holder will turned into a huge work of art for the Hidden Door festival.

The main festival site beneath the gasholder, which will host shows and events from 15-19 September, is next to the village create by the Edinburgh-based charity and social enterprise Social Bite.

Hidden Door will be the first major event to be staged in Granton since the city council unveiled a new masterplan for the waterfront which envisages arts and culture playing a major part in its future.

David Martin, the festival’s creative director, said: “We’ve previously worked with buildings and indoor spaces so the main outdoor site we’re working on this year is quite a big departure for us.

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“It’s been really difficult trying to plan anything at all – we pretty much gave in at the beginning of this year. But then we started thinking about trying to do something outdoors.

“We wanted somewhere that would have a sense of spectacle where people could be really spread out if they have to be, or we could maybe bring more people in if they don’t have to be distanced when the festival is on.

"The warehouse we’re using has been lying empty for around 10 years. It's a vehicle depot which is almost as big as the outdoor space. It will have a stage right in the middle of a massive hangar.

"It’s hugely exciting to be working on this event. We have all sacrificed so much over the last 15 months and so many people have missed that feeling of being together - of sharing the experience of dancing together, of feeling inspired and joyful together. That’s what we are doing this for.”

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