Stately home featured in Outlander lined up for new Edinburgh drive-in festival

The grounds of a 17th century stately home on the outskirts of Edinburgh have been lined up for a summer drive-in festival offering raves, film screenings, live music and stand-up comedy.
Hopetoun House in South Queensferry would host a week of drive-in events this summer if plans for the new festival get the go-ahead.Hopetoun House in South Queensferry would host a week of drive-in events this summer if plans for the new festival get the go-ahead.
Hopetoun House in South Queensferry would host a week of drive-in events this summer if plans for the new festival get the go-ahead.

Promoters are working with Hopetoun House, in South Queensferry, on plans for the “socially-distanced” event.

The week-long festival will be able to accommodate up to 300 vehicles if it gets the go-ahead from the authorities on public health and safety grounds.

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Tom Ketley, founder of the Fly Open Air dance music festival, which has been staged at Hopetoun House in recent years, hopes the new event, which has been partly inspired by drive-in raves in Germany and Denmark, can be staged in July if lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

He is working with other promoters to try to take the concept to Glasgow and other parts of the UK, including Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol and London.

Mr Ketley, who is also behind the annual Fly Open Air festival in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh has revealed he is also working on plans for a “Drive-in Fringe” event in August, with King’s Stables Road targeted for the event.

Set in 150 acres of rolling lawns, parks and woodland, Hopetoun House is home to Adrian Hope, the 4th Marquess of Linlithgow, whose family acquired the land in the 17th century. It is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of the work of the leading Scottish architects Sir William Bruce and William Adam.

A charitable trust was created in 1974 to preserve the house and its grounds as a national monument. It is regularly used as a location for film and TV productions which are set in the past, most recently for the Sony-Starz fantasy series Outlander and the ITV period drama Belgravia.

Mr Ketley, who has been staging his Fly Open Air festival at Hopetoun House since 2016, said: “After a month of lying in bed and watching Netflix I just thought that I really needed to think about how we are going to lie as an events business.

“The nature of events is people coming together and I can’t see that being possible for a long time.

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“I’ve drawn inspiration from mainland Europe, where drive-in raves have started in Germany and Denmark. It looks like it’s been successful and has been done safely.

“It also looks like probably the only way people will be able to access any form of culture or entertainment for the foreseeable future.

“The first idea we had was for a drive-in rave and we already do events with DJs, but I thought that if we are building a stage and put in infrastructure like screens there’s no reason we couldn’t do drive-in comedy, music and cinema. The list is almost endless.

Planning is hard because we don’t know exactly when events will be permitted until the Scottish Government’s plan to come out of lockdown, but we are looking at dates in July at Hopetoun House for the first event before taking the concept on tour.

“Hopetoun House and the council are really keen on it and the police have been very positive about it so far.

“It obviously can’t go ahead at the moment.

“They don’t want a mass rush of people going back to pubs. They want to promote entertainment via safe means.

“I think this is the kind of thing they will get behind.

“We think there is potential to do a lot more in Edinburgh this summer.

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“We’re also speaking to the council about maybe trying to use a number of quiet roads where we could build a stage and then have a drive-in Fringe.”

Stefan Chellan, co-promoter of Drive In Events, said: “Our aim is to bring back a sense of normality in a climate of uncertainty.

“It’s been difficult for not only the music industry itself but the average person, who has lost their sense of weekend release, be that from events, live shows or just socialising with your friends. We are trying to build a safe bridge back to this.”

A spokeswoman for Drive In Events added: “As we begin the easing of lockdown it has become clear that social distancing will still exist for many months into the future – leaving both those who enjoy culture and events and those who work in it without part of the fabric of their lives.

“The prospect of the summer without theatres, music festivals, cinemas, stand-up comedy and nightclubs has led to both artists and promoters needing to reinvent themselves with many moving online to the world of virtual streams.

“There are a great number of safety precautions that each show will have to meet but from initial discussions with venues, police, and relevant local councils, the team believe that this will be a valuable solution to boost everyone’s mental health.”

First news on ticket sales for the event will be available at the official Drive In Events website.

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