Edinburgh set for all-night arts festival


By Zoë Keown

Festival fever could be hitting Edinburgh more than once a year as talks for an all-night arts festival has been unveiled for the capital.

Following in the footsteps of Paris and Rome, The Nuit Blanche or White Night festival will see the doors of many of the city’s most esteemed galleries and cultural centres open to the public for free events after dark.

Bathed in a pool of blue light, the city’s best loved landmarks such as the castle and St Giles Cathedral could well be given the attention they deserve all night long.

Council owned venues such as Usher Hall, Princes Street Gardens, the Assembly Rooms and the City Art Centre are also expected to be involved and other possible venues could include John Knox House and Mary King’s Close.

Not only embracing the usual festival themes of dance, music, performance art and film from dusk until dawn, the Nuit Blanche will also display sound and light shows.

Whilst talks are still in place, the proposed event is already being supported by owners of some of the city’s most notable cultural buildings such as the National Galleries of Scotland and National Museums.

A spokeswoman for the National Museums Scotland said: “We have participated in this feasibility study and are keen to see the outcome.”

John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries said:  “We would be delighted to be a part of a ‘Nuit Blanche’ if such an event were be to held in Edinburgh.

“I was directly involved in establishing Museums at Night in Amsterdam and know from personal experience that these events can be a great success.”

And it is not only the Scottish cultural niche that is set to benefit – the economy is too.

Last year the Parisian event attracted 1.5million attendees and Toronto’s generated an estimated £18million for the economy and attracted 100,000 visitors.

Mr Leighton added: “Experience in other European cities has shown that it is a wonderful celebration of the arts which can attract a large numbers of visitors.”

A spokeswoman for Scottish Enterprise said the proposed event was aimed at generating additional visitors during the current “downtime” in the city’s event calendar.

Following on from the festival’s Parisian birthplace in 2002, other cities to embrace the phenomenon include Lima; Chicago and Toronto and in the UK – Leeds and Brighton.

In the advent of funding being granted, the first event is forecasted to happen as soon as a weekend next February or March.

Pete Irvine, the artistic director of Unique Events, the company drawing up the festival’s plan, said: “We are still working on the report at the moment, but I would say it is very much in Edinburgh’s interests to continue to lead the UK when it comes to festivals and events. The city cannot afford to stand still.”