Stockbridge prepares for Stockfest festival

From left, 'Tannis Dodd, JoJo Hernandez and Rhona Johnston prepare for Stockfest. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
From left, 'Tannis Dodd, JoJo Hernandez and Rhona Johnston prepare for Stockfest. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
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ITS loyal residents would fight to the death to protect its village feel and stop the invasion of high-street chains.

And now the pride they have in Stockbridge will be shared with the whole city as its shops, bars, restaurants, artists, schools and history are showcased in a week-long festival.

From Bollywood dance classes and photography exhibitions to guided walking tours and a vintage flea market, Stockfest has it all.

Almost 50 events will make up the festival, which runs from September 21-28, and organisers hope the programme will attract people from across the city to explore what’s on offer in this bustling area.

The idea to combine the area’s colourful array of businesses and events and promote them under the Stockfest umbrella was devised by business owners Tannis Dodd, JoJo Hernandez and Rhona Johnston, as well as local resident Jane Ali-Knight.

Rhona explains: “There’s a real village feel in Stockbridge, and that’s something we wanted to focus on. We wanted to do something that involved the whole community, and

something for all ages. We thought it would be good to do a week of events that highlighted all the stuff that’s going on right on people’s doorsteps that they might not know


“We are always keen to get people from other areas of the city to come along and see what’s going on down here.”

Amongst the eclectic range of events making up Stockfest is a “nose to tail” banquet, which will be held at The Pantry on North West Circus Place. The evening is designed to “celebrate the underrated and tastiest” cuts that get left on the butcher’s block and is a collaboration between Rob Dewey from Lathockar Lamb and George Bower Butchers in


Free Bollywood dancing and Zumba masterclasses are on offer for fitness fans, while the more musical participants can enjoy free guitar lessons and live music at Take It To The Bridge, on September 27.

Those interested in history and architecture will enjoy the free guided walking tours exploring the area.

Children and even family pets are not being left out of Stockfest, with a “talking tots” class aimed at helping to develop communication skills, while dog training taster sessions also form part of the programme.

One of the key aims of the festival is to promote local

businesses and attract new customers to Stockbridge’s wide array of independent shops.

Rhona, who has recently had to close her Kiss the Fish gifts and crafts shop on Dean Park Street, knows only too well how difficult it is for independent businesses to survive.

“We are continuing to do arts and crafts workshops and parties from some other venues in Stockbridge, but the overheads were too much,” she says. “Shops are finding it more and more difficult to survive.

“We wanted to find a reason for people to come down.”

Stockfest, which was launched last year, is following in the footsteps of a number of one-day festivals held over the years, as well as the Stockbridge Village Festival, an outdoor event which suffered at the hands of the weather.

Tannis Dodd, joint owner of Herbie of Edinburgh, says: “If you just do a one-day event, then often a lot of the local people, businesses and groups can’t get involved, so doing so many events over a week is a great way for everyone to join in. It was really well received last year and it gets people talking about Stockbridge.

“There’s a real village feel about Stockbridge and this really highlights that.”

Stockfest Community Ceilidh will kick off festivities on September 21, with live music by Hud Yer Wheesht, while a closing party will be held at a “secret location” on the final night.

Paul Gunning, head chef and owner of Purslane Restaurant in Stockbridge, says: “We are a small community in Edinburgh and keen to raise awareness of the area, and it couldn’t come at a better time following the Edinburgh Festival.

“During the Festival we don’t see many tourists in Stockbridge due to our location so this is a great opportunity to invite tourists, locals and the surrounding community of Edinburgh to Stockbridge to enjoy our many restaurants, shops and bars.”

Visit for a full programme details, dates and ticket prices.