Freestival, Edinburgh Fringe’s popular free festival, has won a new lease of life with the announcement that it has secured space at one of the Capital’s most spectacular entertainment venues.
The innovative arts, music and comedy event will host up to 40 free shows every day during the Fringe in the historic arches underneath Jeffrey Street, which forms part of the New Waverley development currently being constructed in the heart of the city’s Old Town.
This will be the first time in 150 years that the Victorian C-listed arches will be regularly open to the public, having previously been used for industrial storage space. The double-height brickwork arches, which were first unveiled at a launch party in June, will provide a spectacular performance space accommodating between 50 and 80 people beneath each arch.
The arches form part of one of the city’s most exciting and innovative city centre developments, with New Waverley unveiling further plans to create a permanent arts and leisure quarter centred on the arches where Freestival will be taking place. This includes a stunning glass-fronted structure over three levels crowned with a rooftop terrace, with sweeping views over Waverley Valley.
The arches’ announcement follows weeks of uncertainty surrounding Freestival’s main venue, having been forced to move from its previous location at the Cowgatehead. The arches now joins Fingers Piano Bar, Sin Club and the Thistle King James Hotel in the line-up of other Freestival venues across the city.
Dan Adams of Freestival said: “This is quite simply one of the most exciting developments to hit the Fringe in years. Together with partners La Favorita, we are creating a brand new entertainment area right in the heart of the city – yet at its core lies a stunning performance space which has remained largely unseen and untouched since mid-Victorian times.
“We will be bringing a huge variety of shows to the arches, combining Fringe veterans and established favourites with promising newcomers and family shows. Together with this magnificent new venue and high quality partners like La Favorita Delivered, Freestival has never been in better shape.”
Freestival partner La Favorita Delivered and recently signed sponsors Birra Moretti are set to create a vibrant food, drink and entertainment area in the courtyard immediately in front of the arches, with stunning views across the Waverley Valley towards Calton Hill. “Freestival has always been a great match for us, delivering high calibre acts which attract a diverse audience, with many coming from Edinburgh and the surrounding area,” explained Stephanie Yapp, brand director for La Favorita Delivered.
“This means the support we provide to Freestival is of direct benefit to our customers, which is why it’s such an exciting prospect for us. It’s great to see Freestival go from strength to strength, in a venue that provides us with the opportunity to create a genuinely unique location in which to relax, socialise and be entertained – right in the heart of the city.”
The arches are part of the £150 million New Waverley development, currently transforming Edinburgh’s Old Town. In total, 19 arches are currently being restored to create a new retail and leisure quarter, full of bars, restaurants and independent retailers, which is due to open later in the year.
Clive Wilding, project director with New Waverley added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to continue to breathe new energy into this wonderful part of the Old Town. The arches are amazing spaces which, for too long, have remained closed to public view – and we welcome the chance to bring them back to life through Freestival.
“We now want to continue this positive momentum by using part of the arches as a permanent entertainment venue which, linked to our new public square, will provide a new arts and leisure quarter for the city.”
Freestival will run at the arches, accessed off East Market Street, from August 3 to 31. For more information, visit www.freestival.co.uk