First look at new outdoor Fringe venue in car park below Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Festival Fringe operators have revealed the first image a major new “Covid-secure” venue which will transform the roof of a car park below the castle rock.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 1:10 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd July 2021, 3:23 pm
An image has been released showing the new MultiStory venue, against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.
An image has been released showing the new MultiStory venue, against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

New details of the MultiStory venue, which will be open from 6-30 August, have been released after Gilded Balloon, Zoo, Traverse and DanceBase secured funding from the Scottish Government and the city council for the joint venture.

Meanwhile BBC Scotland has revealed it will creating a brand new pop-up venue in the grounds of Edinburgh University’s High School Yards building. Audiences will be able to attend live broadcasts featuring festival performers between 9am and 11pm for three weeks.

Comedy, theatre, dance, family, music and poetry performances will be staged at MultiStory, which will have a capacity of 136 under the current government distancing guidelines.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

MultiStory, which is being supported with £230,696 in public funding, will boast its own food and drink village on the second-top floor of the car park, however the venues have insisted that it will showcase local businesses affected by the pandemic.

The venues say a host of other Covid safety measures will be in place, including mask-wearing, cleaning, hand sanitizing, contactless e-tickets and regular testing of staff and performers.

A spokeswoman said: “With views over Edinburgh’s historic castle, this new festival hub will bring together a group of mainstays of the Fringe, as the sector begins to recover from the pandemic.”

Zoo’s artistic director James Mackenzie said: “Our mission has always been to support the best artists to bring their work to the Fringe and showcase it in the best way possible, and we’re glad to be continuing this with some new collaborators.”

Four of the Fringe's leading operators will be joining forces to run the new MultiStory venue this August.

Gilded Balloon’s artistic directors Katy and Karen Karen said: “We’re excited to create a unique, safe outdoor performance hub together with some of the Fringe’s best loved, award-winning producing venues.”

Traverse executive producer Linda Crooks said: “We’re thrilled to be able to offer our audiences a new performance experience as a result of our innovative collaboration with Gilded Balloon, Zoo and Dance Base.”

Donald Wilson, the council’s culture convener, said: “I’m delighted that this exciting collaboration will encompass the best of Edinburgh-based and Scottish talent and my congratulations to all involved the team for bringing together such an broad programme.

“With MultiStory, we can all look forward to a programme where audiences can once again safely share in live performance experiences in this new outdoor venue.”

BBC Scotland will be creating a pop-up venue at Edinburgh University's High School Yards site.

The creation of MultiStory, which will take over the top two floors of the NCP car park at Castle Terrace, will effectively extend Edinburgh’s official cultural quarter, which includes the Filmhouse cinema, the Usher Hall, and the Royal Lyceum and Traverse theatres during this year’s festival.

Gilded Balloon, Dance Base and the Traverse are also planning to stage shows at their main indoor venues in August. Other venues returning include George Square Gardens, where Underbelly and Assembly will be staging shows, Bristo Square, which will be operated by Underbelly, and Pleasance Courtyard.

A spokeswoman for BBC Scotland said: “We’re delighted to have a base again for the Edinburgh festivals this year at the University of Edinburgh.

“Given the current situation, we’ve opted for a smaller pop-up site in the centre of the city and are looking forward to welcoming audiences to the radio programmes being broadcast and recorded there.”