Top Fringe promoter launches new food festival

George Square Gardens has frequently played host to festival events in the past. Picture: TSPL
George Square Gardens has frequently played host to festival events in the past. Picture: TSPL
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A NEW food and drink festival featuring Fringe performers is to be launched to fill a gap in Edinburgh’s summer calendar of events.

George Square Garden will be playing host to the inaugural Edinburgh Food Festival, which is being staged as part of a year-long celebration of Scotland’s natural larder.

One of the city’s leading Fringe promoters has unveiled plans for a five-day event promoting “gourmet street food” and the best of Scotland’s natural produce. It is one of two new events which will effectively extend the festival season, which will run from mid-July till the end of August.

Restaurant chain Hard Rock Cafe has already unveiled plans for a three-day series of concerts in St Andrew Square Garden at the end of July. Both squares are opening for the festival season earlier than ever before to accommodate the jazz festival, which runs three weeks earlier than the Fringe.

The food event will be staged during a nine-day break between jazz festival concerts and Fringe shows in George Square. The Edinburgh Food Festival will feature stalls from at least 15 different producers around the garden, over and above the plethora of food stalls which are already brought in for the festival season.

The new festival, which will run from 29 July-2 August, will also feature talks and debates on everything from the benefits of organic food and the enriching powers of seaweed to the importance of sustainability to the industry. A line-up of chefs, breadmakers, apple-growers and slow food experts will be joined by new cabaret show Le Haggis, which was launched at the annual Big Burns Supper in Dumfries, comic Hardeep Singh Kohli, who opened a restaurant in Leith earlier this year, and trad music favourites Aidan O’Rourke and The Poozies.

Fringe promoters Assembly Theatre plan to make the new food event an annual fixture in the garden, where festival shows have been held for more than a decade. The move by Assembly to programme shows before the official start of the Fringe is significant as this will be the first season it will share the same dates as the Edinburgh International Festival since 1997.

Some of the most high-profile music acts to appear in the city this summer will be performing before the Fringe kicks off. Big Country, Nina Nesbitt, Fatherson and Steve McCrorie, winner of the most recent series of The Voice, are performing in the Hard Rock Rocks Edinburgh event in St Andrew Square.

Sharon Burgess, Assembly’s managing director, said: “We wanted to accommodate the jazz festival, but didn’t want to have the site in the dark for a whole week. Food already plays a huge part in the footfall we get at the site, so we had already been thinking of doing an event like this.

“We pride ourselves on the quality of our food offering being very high, so we looked into doing something more food-orientated. But we also wanted an element of entertainment with connections to Scotland. We didn’t just want to throw in random events.”