Edinburgh Fringe plans for Ross Bandstand gigs

Simple Minds play Princes Street Gardens in 2006. Picture: Paul Parke
Simple Minds play Princes Street Gardens in 2006. Picture: Paul Parke
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BIG-name pop and rock concerts are to be staged annually again in one of Edinburgh’s best-known beauty spots after a break of almost a decade.

Promoters behind the annual Edinburgh Castle esplanade concerts are expanding into Princes Street Gardens for three open-air shows during the final week of the Fringe. Each will attract an audience of around 4000.

The last bands to appear at the Ross Bandstand during the world’s biggest arts festival were Simple Minds and Belle and Sebastian in 2006.

Months later the city council announced a clampdown on the number of events held in Princes Street Gardens.

The only concerts held there since have been during the Hogmanay festival, including appearances by the stars such as Lily Allen, Madness, the Pet Shop Boys, Calvin Harris, KT Tunstall and Kasabian.

The historic arena has only been used once for the Fringe since 2010 when promoters Assembly Theatre ran a major venue there during a refurbishment of its previous home on George Street.

Regular Music, which has joined forces with cider giant Magners to stage the concerts, said a “custom-made stage in keeping with the surroundings in the gardens” will be installed for the three shows, which are pencilled in on 26-30 August.

The two firms – who will be creating a food and drink village next to the Ross Bandstand for the event – joined forces last summer for a series of Magners Summer Nights gigs at the newly-revamped Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow’s West End.

Regular Music – which has staged shows by Steve Earle, Bryan Ferry, BB King and Tony Bennett at the Ross Bandstand in previous years – are yet to announce who will perform at the city’s Magners Summer Nights this summer.

The Waterboys, Capercaillie, Alison Moyet, Teenage Fanclub, Squeeze and Steve Earle all featured in the first round of Magners-backed events at Kelvingrove last August..

Other acts to stage Fringe shows at the Ross Bandstand in previous years include Nick Cave, Orbital and Franz Ferdinand. But none have been held since the demise of T on the Fringe, which was bankrolled by brewers Tennent’s.

Mark Mackie, director of Regular Music, said: “It’s great news that with the help of Magners we’re now able to extend Magners Summer Nights to Edinburgh, in the beautiful setting of Princes Street Gardens, under the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. This will be the first of what we all hope will become an ­annual event.”

Steve Cardownie, the city council’s festivals and events champion, said: “The Ross Theatre is a unique venue positioned right in the heart of a historic and scenic park. We want to make the most of this great space when we can and I hope the exclusivity of the venue will attract big names in music and that Magners Summer Nights puts the Ross Theatre back in the spotlight.”