Hidden Door 2017: Breathing new life into the old Leith Theatre

Returning for its fourth edition, the non-profit and 100% volunteer-run multi arts festival will this year take place in the old Leith Theatre; with 10 days and nights of music, theatre, visual art, film and spoken word bringing the stunning venue back to life. Left derelict and decaying for 28 years, Hidden Door will provide the initial spark to get this art deco gem back up and running as a major Edinburgh arts venue and transform its empty spaces with the help of some of the best creative talent from Scotland and beyond.

The festival will be free to explore every day until 6pm, with tickets now on sale for the evening events.



The 2017 line-up


Kicking off with two nights of live music in collaboration with The List are Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) award winner Anna Meredith, alt-pop duo Bdy_Prts and Marnie (of Ladytron) on Friday 26 May and Scottish indie legends Idlewild with indie-pop from Hamish Hawk and alt-rock trio Dama Scout on Saturday 27 May.

Friday 2 June welcomes another major collaboration as Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival presents renowned rapper/saxophonist Soweto Jazz and 9-piece Riot Jazz headlining with their twisted mix of funk, soul, hip hop and aggressive jazz.

The final weekend brings more multi-instrumentalist mayhem with Hidden Orchestra headlining Saturday 3 June and we close the festival on Sunday 4 June with a fantastic and unique collaboration between Hidden Door favourites Tinderbox Orchestra on stage with another cherished SAY Award winner, Kathryn Joseph.


Influential theatre company Grid Iron will premiere a brand new work in progress whilst Ludens Ensemble return with new performance ‘Love’ based on Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Jamie and Lewis Wardrop’s Glasgow v. Edinburgh will utilise irreverent and playful multimedia as they rip up the postcard view of their cities.

Visual Arts

Over 20 artists have been selected from an open call to exhibit at Hidden Door 2017 alongside 11 invited artists. They will transform every corner of the old Leith Theatre, working in a variety of mediums including sculpture, sound, performance art and video. Using the Japanese method of kintsugi, Valerie Reed will gild some of the damaged parts of the theatre by filling in the cracks with gold. David House will present a sonic document marking the Leith Theatre’s melancholy-yet-beautiful state of disrepair, whilst hinting at the heritage and future of the building. Continuing his preoccupation with ideas of abandonment in society, Liam J. McLaughlin’s video work will explore the influence of religion and isolation on rural communities. Mo Kearsley and Martin Elden will present an unnerving commentary on social media’s pervasiveness by projecting images of eyes glued to the technology on the theatre’s floor.


The Film programme is once again on a cinematic scale with a glittering line-up of collaborations and guest curators including Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Africa In Motion, Scottish Queer International Film Festival and Kino Klub.

Spoken Word

Interrobang will draw upon the theatre for storytelling inspiration for their Phantom of the Opera-themed “Ghosts of the Citadel”. New Writers Award winner Rachel Plummer joins Matt Hulse, Matt Rogers and the Scottish Clarinet Quartet to present a the electronica-inspired, cabaret-style “Parlour Guide To Exo-Politics,” and Annie Rutherford and Rebecca DeWald will curate an event showcasing a range of writers and translators who use the act of translation innovatively in their writing and performance work. Returning to Hidden Door, Andrew Blair’s ode to Robert Pattinson, “The R Patz Facts” is sure to be wildly popular, as will Sonnet Youth’s spoken word house party/rave.


David Martin, Creative Director of Hidden Door, said:

“Edinburgh is a city busy with festivals but Hidden Door opens up new spaces for artists and creative talent to bring something new to the mix, celebrating innovation and experimentation in the arts.

“People may think that Edinburgh doesn’t have a lot of disused buildings, but they would be amazed at the secrets that are still there to be discovered. This year we have access to one of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets – the old Leith Theatre. Many people think they have been to the Leith Theatre, but have in fact only been to the adjoining hall. The actual theatre is breathtaking, and we will fill every nook and cranny, backstage room, under the stage and even the roof space with exciting art installations, theatre shows and film from some of Scotland’s most promising new artists.

“And then of course we have the fantastic main auditorium which we will bring to life in a spectacular way – with music from the likes of Hidden Orchestra and new enfant terrible Anna Meredith, plus fantastic new site-specific theatre productions by Grid Iron, Ludens Ensemble and Surge. This will be our most ambitious festival yet, and will reflect a dynamic emerging cultural scene in Scotland.”

Irvine Welsh, Leith-born author and patron of the Leith Theatre Trust, said:

“It’s terrific to see a pop-up counter culture event like Hidden Door collaborating with Leith Theatre to open up the whole of the building, not just the main auditorium but also all the corridors and dressing rooms, bars and secret nooks that make it such a charming and exciting place. Hidden Door gives audiences the chance to glimpse what the future of the theatre could be and show others how versatile and interesting it can be in the meantime through its programme and use of space. I’m excited to see a like-minded organisation coming together with us and bringing Leith Theatre new life.”

Lorna Duguid, Multi-artform Manager at Creative Scotland, one of the festival’s supporters, said:

“Hidden Door Festival has provided inspiration to communities across Scotland, showing that there is still life in disused spaces and with a little rejuvenation they can thrive as temporary arts venues.

“The festival has established itself as a springboard for emerging Scotland-based artists, across several art-forms, encouraging them to create ambitious new work and developing their practices.

“Hidden Door has once again produced an excitingly ambitious programme and we can’t wait to see the historic Leith Theatre provide the perfect backdrop for this year’s festival.”

Yasmin Sulaiman, Editor-in-Chief at The List, said:

“We’re really chuffed to be working with Hidden Door this year as they bring the amazing Leith Theatre back to life. Anna Meredith – who topped The List Hot 100 in 2016 – is one of the best and most innovative musicians in the UK today, and we’re very excited that she’ll be headlining the Hidden Door Opening Party with The List. We are also really excited to have Idlewild headline on Saturday night as this is likely to be one of their only UK shows in 2017.”

Jason Rust, Chair of Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival said:

“We’re thrilled about our collaboration with Hidden Door Festival. This is a great opportunity to present four exciting groups in a new context, and to a new audience. We’re always looking to produce memorable events and we expect the special programme and the special venue to create one of the stand out moments of our year – and a wonderful taster for our 2017 Festival.”


For further details, images or if you would like to talk to a member of the team please contact

Images for general use

Main Photo Pack

Download the first Hidden Door 2017 Photo Pack (Zip file) with images from past festivals, the Leith Theatre, and some of this year’s acts.

Citadel Theatre (Leith Theatre)

Download images of the theatre on the eve of the festival (Zip file) – all photos courtesy of Chris Scott.

Download previous images of the theatre via Dropbox – all photos courtesy of Chris Scott.

Previous festivals

Download all the below images (Zip file, 6MB)

37 Paula Petroll - Collidoscope Photo Credit Chris Scott

Paula Petroll – Collidoscope. Photo Credit Chris Scott. Download as JPG.

Long Room Gig Photo Credit Chris Scott

Long Room Gig Photo Credit Chris Scott. Download as JPG.

Secret Courtyard Photo Credit Chris Scott

Secret Courtyard Photo Credit Chris Scott. Download as JPG.


Massed Band Photo Credit Chris Scot. Download as Zip file.

You can see Chris’ full set of photos from Hidden Door 2015 on his Flickr page.

Press mentions


Music review: Tinderbox Orchestra at Hidden Door – The Scotsman, 10 June 2017

Live Review: Tinderbox Orchestra at Hidden Door Festival – The National Student, 9 June 2017

Tinderbox Orchestra launch album as Hidden Door closes – Channel 7a, 5 June 2017

Leith Theatre is a gem of a venue – The Scotsman, 5 June 2017

Inside Look: Hidden Door Days 7 & 8 – Just For Culture, 3 June 2017

Hidden Door review: Flint & Pitch and Metropolis – The Herald, 2 June 2017

Idlewild at Hidden Door: Review – God Is In The TV, 2 June 2017

Hidden Door Festival – Take It From A Local, 1 June 2017

Leith Theatre is Scotland’s best new live music venue. Let’s do everything we can to keep it going – The List, 1 June 2017

Hidden Door 2017: Day 5 Review – The Wee Review, 31 May 2017

Hidden Door opening weekend in pictures – The List, 31 May 2017

Rules of the Moon at Hidden Door: Review – The Herald, 30 May 2017

Inside Look: The old Leith Theatre – we explore the venue – Just For Culture, 30 May 2017

Inside Look: Hidden Door Festival 2017 – Just For Culture, 30 May 2017

The Adventures of Prince Achmed: Review – The Herald, 29 May 2017

Hidden Door 2017 – Day 2 Review – The Wee Review, 29 May 2017

Leith Theatre reopens doors for arts festival – The Times, 29 May 2017

Festival review: Hidden Door opening weekend – The Scotsman, 29 May 2017

KinoKlub at Hidden Door: Review – Cinema’s Fringes, 27 May 2017

Derelict Leith theatre to open up for Edinburgh Festival – The Scotsman, 26 May 2017

Hidden Door finds a new home at Leith Theatre – The Herald, 26 May 2017

Hidden Door 2017 – Lost in Leith Theatre – The Skinny, 25 May 2017

Hidden Door festival is helping to bring Leith Theatre back to life – The Scotsman, 22 May 2017

Hidden Door: the festival turning Edinburgh’s forgotten spaces into creative hubs – The i, 8 May 2017

Hidden Door Festival transforms and reopens the Leith Theatre after almost three decades – The List, 12 April 2017

The essential guide to summer in Edinburgh – The i, 10 April 2017

Trainspotting director Danny Boyle calls for help to bring Leith Theatre back to life – The National, 7 April 2017

Trainspotting director Danny Boyle backs Leith Theatre plea – Edinburgh Evening News, 6 April 2017

‘Hidden Door’ Launch Crowd-funding Campaign to Restore Leith Theatre – Edinburgh Reporter, 6 April 2017

Former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary building in frame to host arts festival – The Scotsman, 25 March 2017

Hidden Door festival to revive abandoned old Leith Theatre – Time Out, 20 March 2017

Hidden Door releases plans for Leith Theatre festival – The Herald, 7 March 2017

#HiddenDoor 2017 Festival will be in fabulous Leith – Edinburgh Reporter, 3 March 2017

Anna Meredith and Idlewild kick off Hidden Door 2017 – The List, 3 March 2017

Hidden Door Festival reveals line-up for reborn Leith Theatre – The Scotsman, 3 March 2017

Hidden Door reveals 2017 line up – The Skinny, 3 March 2017

Writer’s Picks for 2017 – TV Bomb, 5 Jan 2017

17 reasons to visit Edinburgh in 2017 – This Is Edinburgh, 4 Jan 2017

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh to help save Leith theatre – BBC News, 4 Jan 2017

Irvine Welsh leads campaign to restore Leith Theatre – The Stage, Jan 6 2017

Irvine Welsh backing fantastic news for Leith Theatre – Edinburgh Evening News, 3 Jan 2017

Trainspotting author plots Leith’s return to the stage – The Scotsman, 8 Jan 2017

Trainspotting author aims to bring bright lights back to Leith – The Times, 3 Jan 2017


Leith’s Citadel Theatre given fresh life after 30 years – The Stage, 8 Nov 2016

Derelict Leith theatre to rise again as citadel of the arts – The Times, 2 Nov 2016

Hidden Door Festival To Revitalise Leith Citadel Theatre – Edinburgh Guide, 1 Nov 2016

Festival review: Hidden Door, Electric City – Scotsman, 6 June 2016

Glittered theatre review at Hidden Door – TV Bomb, 5 June 2016

Theatre review: Hidden Door, Abandoned Street Lighting Depot – Herald, 30 May 2016

Experts in Short Trousers theatre review at Hidden Door  – TV Bomb, 29 May 2016

Teleman concert review at Hidden Door – Back of the Crowd, 29 May 2016

Ubu Roi theatre review at Hidden Door – TV Bomb, 29 May 2016

Plenty of great artists to catch at Hidden Door – The National, 26 May 2016


Hidden Doors to return to King’s Stables Rd depot – Edinburgh Evening News, 24 Nov 2015

Hidden Door was the kind of DIY arts showcase Edinburgh needs – Wow24/7, 6 June 2015

Interactive walls tumble as Hidden Door comes to a close – Herald, 2 June 2015

5 Star Review: Hidden Door festival, Edinburgh – Scotsman, 29 May 2015

Art Review: Hidden Door Festival 2015 – The List, 29 May 2015

Hidden Door theatre review from The Secret Courtyard – Herald, 25 May 2015

Review: Hidden Door Festival – Edinburgh Feminist Review, 25 May 2015

Hidden Door’s theatrical highlights – The List, 22 May 2015

Hidden Door Festival 2016: An Artistic Wonderland – Channel 7A, 20 May 2015

Art thrives behind Edinburgh’s Hidden Door festival – Herald, 16 May 2015

Private View: Hidden Door Festival 2015 – The List, 8 April 2015

Former Grassmarket depot to host 2015 Hidden Door festival – STV Edinburgh, 3 March 2015


Festival review: Hidden Door Festival, Edinburgh – Scotsman, 30 March 2014

Hidden Door Festival 2014: Edinburgh Short Film Festival Highlights – Edinburgh Reporter, 28 March 2014

Hidden Door Festival: Vaults transformed into market – Edinburgh Evening News, 27 March 2014

Hidden Door festival aims to instil Edinburgh with a new DIY events ethos – The List, 21 March 2014

Hidden Door Festival announces Early Bird tickets on sale – The List, 2 Feb 2014