Stockbridge festival back and bigger than ever

The festival was launched by Jojo Hernandez, Tannis Dodd, Vicki Bradley and Helen Shardlow. Picture: Jane Barlow
The festival was launched by Jojo Hernandez, Tannis Dodd, Vicki Bradley and Helen Shardlow. Picture: Jane Barlow
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IT is just a stone’s throw from the city centre, but unless you live there, you might never have cause to venture into Stockbridge.

Tucked away in its own little “suburb”, in the shadow of the hustle and bustle of George Street and Princes Street, it is often overlooked – despite its abundance of restaurants, bars and shops.

Local business owners, community groups and residents have therefore joined forces to promote their beloved Stockbridge to the rest of the city – as well as showcasing everything that’s on offer to those who live there.

Stockfest is back for its third year – and is set to be even bigger and better.

With a community ceilidh, street party, flea market, dance classes, historical talks, poetry, music and art exhibitions, there really is something for everyone at this year’s festival, which runs from September 20-27.

One of the organisers, Jojo Hernandez, who owns the Lilies & Dreams boutique on St Stephen Street, explains the ethos behind the event.

“It’s for everyone throughout Edinburgh and that’s what we want to encourage,” she says. We are doing it within the community – it’s all organised and funded by businesses and community groups and individuals within Stockbridge, but it’s to raise awareness of Stockbridge and to get other people to come and appreciate this amazing village community in Edinburgh.”

Stockfest is not just catering for the human residents this year – for the first time, it is also looking after its canine community, with Stock Dog on September 20 in Inverleith Park.

“Our doggy show is going to be fun for all the family. There will be six little competitions that people can enter their dogs into, so it’s just light-hearted fun. The Dogs Trust is coming along to offer free microchipping.

“Stockbridge is such a doggy area, so this idea was something that came naturally. From what I’m seeing so far, it will be popular. Everywhere in Stockbridge is dog friendly – all the bars and shops welcome dogs.”

Another new addition to the festival is the battle of the local chefs, with prestigious restaurants Scran & Scallie, Rollo, The Bon Vivant, Bistro Moderne, The Raeburn Hotel and Purslane all battling it out against each other.

The restaurants each have to prepare a special dish which will go on their menus throughout the festival week, which customers will score and vote upon.

“We have told them to keep it local, and it has to be a dish that’s never appeared on their menu before, but other than that there’s no strict theme,” explains Jojo.

“Members of the public can go along and vote in four categories such as value for money and quality of ingredients.”

Chef Mark Greenaway, of Bistro Moderne, is already planning his dish.

He says: “We will probably do a game dish. A lot of people are slightly unsure of game so it’s a good way to introduce it. Because we only opened last December, game is not something I have featured on a menu yet. This is an interesting exercise for us to put it out there and get proper feedback because people will be scoring the dish. It’s a good platform for us to showcase it.”

He adds: “Stockbridge is seen as its own suburb, so this is a great way of getting what’s going on in Stockbridge out to other people in Edinburgh. It’s a good way of introducing them to Stockbridge and letting them know exactly what’s available.

“I have lived in Stockbridge for six months now and I’m still finding new things that I didn’t know were there. It’s got a reputation for just being full of second-hand shops but it’s not like that at all. It’s an amazing place to be.

“Before we had a restaurant here, we were rarely in Stockbridge. It’s like Morningside – there’s often no reason to go unless you live there.”

Other highlights of the festival include the Stockfest Ceilidh, in the LifeCare Centre on Cheyne Street, which kicks off events on September 20.

The popular Stock Flea, Vintage and Craft Market takes place on the same day, from 11am-4pm. For the first time, this will be held outdoors, in Jubilee Gardens to “keep with the tradition of a French flea market”.

And the popular closing party on September 27 promises to be “glamorous” with a jazz and blues theme.

“Every year it gets a little bit bigger, which is what encourages us to keep doing it every year,” adds Jojo.

For a full festival programme, visit www.stockfestedinburgh.com