Edinburgh Fringe for All


Edinburgh Fringe Accessibility 

Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe  thrill is navigating its many shows and people to find hidden gems. However, if you are a visitor with additional needs this can be daunting. Imagine tackling Fleshmarket Close with a cane or deciphering a Princes Street poet via hearing aid.

Fringe Community Engagement and Access Manager Lyndsey McLean said: “The city of Edinburgh is one of the Fringe’s biggest assets, but it also presents one of its biggest challenges; its medieval and Georgian architecture creates an immediate physical barrier, which in many cases cannot be altered. Venues for the Festival Fringe often appear non-traditional theatre spaces, so we work to help venues, performers and audiences improve accessibility.”

Improving venue accessibility can mean anything from installing a wheelchair ramp, to offering autism friendly shows. With such a variety of considerations, Edinburgh Fringe has once again collaborated with specialists at Attitude is Everything to optimise its efforts.

McLean said: “This year we are piloting a Venue Access Award, developed in partnership with Attitude is Everything. This provides venue managers with minimum standard of accessibility guidelines and offers different levels of achievement. This year audiences should start to see venues displaying Venue Access Award certificates.”

The certificates are a natural progression of the projects that Edinburgh Fringe has been undertaking since its founding.

In 2011, Edinburgh Fringe introduced its access bookings team to provide a personal service for disabled audience members. Now the team continues to build its access information database, and has trained customer service staff to provide improved booking services for disabled audience members.

Alternatively, customers who want to complete bookings online can establish a show’s accessibility via the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website or app.

McLean explained: “Audience members can filter their show search by accessibility. This allows you to see which shows are in venues that have level entry, wheelchair space, disabled toilets, and so on.”

She added: “Alternatively, if you find a show you would like to see – either online or in the printed programme – you can look for the access icons next to each entry. If you need more information then you can get in touch with the access bookings team, who will be happy to help.”

The Fringe booking process has also become friendlier with the introduction of free personal assistant tickets, allowing carers or friends of disabled customers to attend shows with them at no added cost.

After making it easier for disabled customers to see its shows, Edinburgh Fringe sought to give them more reason to want to see its shows. To do this the Fringe became an Attitude Champion.

McLean explained: “Being an Attitude Champion means setting goals that range from committing to ensuring that Fringe Society organised events are accessible to everyone, to creating an environment that encourages deaf and disabled people to work and/or perform at the Fringe.”

2017 Fringe shows that focus on disabled issues include include: Tom Skelton: Blind Man’s Bluff  – a comedy in which Tom talks about his and many more blind lives; Blank Tiles – a show about life after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis; and Bella Freak: Unwritten – a comedy show on three disabled individuals’ stories. These are just a taste of the many accessible shows that Edinburgh Fringe has to offer, the rest can be found at the Fringe website.

McLean concluded: “The Fringe Society works to make sure that the Fringe is as accessible and inclusive as it can be.”

Glasgow Goes Green


Glasgow Goes Green


Bringing sustainable living facts, fun and food is the pop up festival Glasgow Goes Green. Running 15 February in SWG3 from 5– 11pm, the event is part of UK Go Green Week.

Festival lead organiser Sarah Bacom explained: Go Green Week is the largest week of student climate action. Glasgow Goes Green comes as part of it, bringing together the city’s four universities in the common cause of environmentalism.”

Although student led the festival welcomes people from all walks of life, with daytime family activities and an 18+ after party.

Bacom said: “The festival will be running in two stages; from 5- 8pm it will be family friendly, with stalls, activities and acoustic music. Then from 9 – 11pm the stalls will close and a DJ from the IM Project will lead the party.”

The venue has disabled access and guests can book free tickets from Eventbite website.

We want the festival to show that environmentalism is accessible to everyone,” the organiser added.

This sentiment will ring throughout the day’s activities.

Bacom said: “The festival will have food, arts, crafts, lifestyle and biodiversity strands. Some people will have stalls and some will host workshops. The arts strands will see interactive sessions, such as live mural painting, where the crowd can come forward and feed into the artists’ work.

“There will be art displays that people can pass and admire, but most of the art will have an interactive element.”

Getting everyone involved is the aim of the game.

Bacom explained: “This year’s festival theme is ‘What does Green Mean to You’; so we are trying to engage with people who might not identify themselves as environmentalists and change their perspective.”

She added: “Environmentalism means different things to different people; some people think of gardening while others think of protesting. Some people are very passionate about human rights, but don’t associate this with environmentalism, however we are working to show that climate justice is social justice.”

With its food for thought the festival also brings food for sustenance.

Bacom promised: “There is going to be lots of vegan, as well as gluten free food. Some of the more unusual food will include honey from the Glasgow University Beekeeping Society. The beekeepers will even be hosting honey tasting sessions!”

Honey can also be found in some of the festival’s drinks, as it will include Plan Bee a company that flavours its beer with locally sourced nectar.

Bacom enthused: “There are so many eco-friendly start- ups, niche organisations and projects in Glasgow! This shows that Glaswegians have a real desire to make their city better and empower others too.” 

This desire was reflected in the strong turn out of last year’s Glasgow Goes Green festival, which boasted over 800 attendees.

This year’s festival looks to follow suit, with 2/3 of the tickets snapped up within the first few weeks of going live.

Bacom concluded: “Come and explore Glasgow Goes Green! We have something for everyone. You never know what you might do or who you might meet!”

Southside Fringe


Showing how Scots do Southern hospitality is Glasgow’s Southside Fringe. Running from May 13 – 29, the celebration includes in and outdoor events.

Co-founder Corinna Currie said: “We have an amazing selection covering live music, theatre, cabaret, comedy, spoken word, burlesque, literature, visual art, film and well being events.”

With such a mix of activities its no surprise last year’s festival welcomed over 9000 revellers.

Now in its third year the Southside Fringe has returned with exciting new features.

Currie explained: “This year we are delighted to introduce a dedicated heritage programme, welcoming on board Pollok House and House for an Art Lover. “ 

House for an Art Lover hosted the festival on May 14 with Art on the Park, the programme’s first alfresco event. Delivered in partnership with Art on Scotland, the event included an art fair, live entertainment and food stalls. 

Continuing festival firsts Southside Fringe 2016 launched its ‘legacy’ work, with the Clutha Trust, bringing activities to Castlemilk Youth Complex.

Catering to all ages the festival includes activities across 52 venues, including historical buildings, cafes, pubs and even a pool.

Currie said: “Govanhill Baths have a wonderful range of theatre events.”

She added: “Loks bar have a full programme of events from Ceilidhs, to David Bowie tribute nights. We’re also really excited to see how the open air space down at Pollokshield Playhouse will be used.”

As well as pop events, the festival will have international activities.

Currie said: “We have singers all the way from Kenya, Ogoya Nengo and the Dodo’s women’s Group, performing at the Glad Café; music from Brazil, in Nossa Bossa on May 19,, and a Traditional Eritrean Coffee ceremony, hosted by MILK on May 16.

Tastebud treats continue at the festival with a Gin and Food evening at the Salisbury and also the Spanish Tapas & Wine Tasting Evening at Bell & Felix.

The festival will conclude with a cabaret party at Loks, starring acts like Creative Martyrs, Kim Khaos and Tom Harlowe.

Currie anticipated: “With Music from the Glasgow Swing Society and the Acquiescent Orchestra there will be a party atmosphere and good measured rowdiness! “

Closing party tickets are £10 and available in Fringe HQ or online.

Currie concluded: The atmosphere at Southside Fringe is electric and full of love. We’re all in it for our love of the Southside. It’s great to feel the area buzzing during the fortnight.

 “You can grab a programme or go online and come along to Southside Fringe. You’ll only regret it if you hear how good things are after they’ve happened!”

Deoch an Dorus Festival


Shirking its knitwear image, the Isle of Arran is once again hosting the alternative music festival Deoch an Dorus. Running on April 30, the festival is in it’s second year and it’s back with a vengeance.

Festival organiser Mark McGhee said: “Last year Rory Gordon and I launched Deoch an Dorus with only seven weeks planning, and in this short time we got 400 people attending. It was hosted it in the town hall, with camping inside, and the feedback was incredible.”

“This year we wanted to expand, so we moved it to the North Sannox Glen and planned an amazing line up.”

Included in the programme are McGhee’s band: the Girobabies; Samba group Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5; Ska legends Root System; and Reggae artists Samson Sounds.

These acts and many more will grace the main stage, bar stage and dance tent throughout the festival.

A ticket with camping costs £20 for adults, £10 for teens and under 12s go free. Families are very welcome at Deoch an Dorus, as McGhee explained.

He said: “Last year we got feedback from people saying the festival would be perfect for families, and lot of the Deoch an Dorus artists have kids they thought would enjoy it.”

“So this year we have brought in extra kids activities through the day, such as pony trekking and crafts.”

Other activities at Deoch an Dorus will include: music workshops, reiki, face paining, live art and construction of a mini Stonehenge.

To fuel this fun Deoch an Dorus will have food and drink stalls hosting the best Scottish produce.

McGhee said: “There will be local made burgers by local Robin Gray, as well as veggie options, and plenty of craft beer.”

He added: “Last year everyone from the local community got behind the festival and it had such a good natured vibe.”

This camaraderie, McGhee said, stemmed from the grassroots music.

He explained: “All the bands are really grounded and up for a good time; there are no egos and it attracts a great crowd of people.”

Add to this crowd Arran’s atmospheric setting, and that is what makes Deoch an Dorus unique. This year’s campsite will offer a backdrop of rolling hills and revellers won’t be far from the sea.

McGhee recalled: “Something about getting on the ferry really unifies people and gets them in the holiday spirit.

“It’s only a half- hour drive and 45 minute ferry from Glasgow, but Deoch an Dorus feels a world away.”

He concluded: “Anyone who has been to Arran knows it’s beautiful and anyone who’s seen our acts knows they put on a great gig.”


Pons Aelius

Pons Aelius Promo

Pumping fresh blood into the folk music scene is UK six piece Pons Aelius. In 2015 – at the combined age of 132 – the band gained recognition by winning the Celtic Connections’ Danny Kyle Award.

Now launching its debut EP; Pons Aelius is taking its horde of instruments on tour. This means transporting its guitar, bouzouki, double bass, bodhrán, whistle, flute, mandolin, and bagpipes across the UK; the piano will meet them there.

Double bassist, Bevan Morris said: “We’re all fans of the Berlingo Multispace XTR; so are really excited to spend 10 days together in one.

“More importantly, we can’t wait to unleash out new material on crowds up and down the country. We really come into our own in a live setting.”

Guitar and bouzouki player, Alasdair Paul, explained: “Our music is like getting beaten about the head with a set of bagpipes.”

Whistler and piper, Jordan Aikin agreed: “Paul Gascoigne’s rendition of Fog on the Tyne always inspires me.”

Joking aside, Pons Aelius explained its folk inspiration came from many sources. Bodhrán player, Callum Younger, said he inherited it. Similarly, Alasdair Paul said folk was part of his Highland upbringing.

Double bassist, Bevan Morris added: “I grew up in Lincolnshire; so folk music was fully avoidable; but here I am.”

Flute player, Sam Partridge, quipped: “The conical bore of Glossop chimney inspired me; it looks like a flute and I love flutes!”

Tenor, Banjoist, Mandolinist and Pianist, Tom Kimber concluded: “I’ve always enjoyed folk music at festivals, so that culture got me into it.”

This passion drove the six toward Newcastle University, where they met on the Folk and Traditional Music degree.

After playing together in different line-ups the six decided to consolidate their talent into one group, which in mid-2014 became Pons Aelius.

Morris said: “We all respected each other’s music, so there was a lot of excitement to see what we could do together. That excitement is still there every time we play. We always try to add something new to the mix, so our rhythm keeps developing.”

When asked what advice it they would offer new musicians, Kimber said: “Practice is the most important thing; both as a band and individually.”

Aikin added: “We do a lot of late night rehearsals. We are all really invested in the band and understand that even we can’t all be around all of the time, we still give it as much as we can.”

Testament to this commitment is the success Pons Aelius has found overseas.

Aikin said: “We feel really lucky to be able to travel with our music. Earlier this year we played at Norway’s Rauland Internasjonale Vinter festival, and it was unforgettable.”

However, Aikin noted, the band equally enjoyed its UK gigs.

He said: “We closed the 2015 Dentdale Music and Beer Festival, and it was insane. We couldn’t hear ourselves over the crowd. The tent was rammed and everyone was so up for it. It was such a great festival.”

Once home, the band began preparations for its EP tour, which is scheduled September 16 – 24; for Colchester, Birmingham, Inverness, Perth, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Newcastle.

Morris said: “Newcastle’s Bar Loco is always a great gig. We’ve all played there in various capacities a bunch of times, so it will be a real homecoming.

“We’ve nearly brought Bar Loco’s floor down a couple of times; so we’re hoping on the 24th the building will finally be condemned!”

After touring its EP, Pons Aelius will return to Glasgow for Celtic Connection 2016.

Partridge said: “We can’t wait to be back at Celtic Connections.

 “Celtic Connections 2015 was one of our most memorable moments; the chance to hear and meet such great acts was really something.”

Speaking of the band’s Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Award, Partridge said: “It was awesome that our music was acknowledged at such a prestigious event; it was really humbling for us.”

Pons Aelius’ music and gig dates are available via the band’s website and social media.

Edinburgh International Film Festival


The Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has cameras rolling and chins wagging with its 69th event.

Opening the festival VIPs – including Robert Carlyle and Ashley Jensen – graced the red carpet for Carlyle’s directorial debut, The Legend of Barney Thomson.

EIFF Recruitment Coordinator Katri Vanhatalo said: “This year’s festival has had a great UK presence, and it has welcomed so many icons of the screen that I feel star-struck!”

Yet the 2015 hype wasn’t all about celebrities, as Vanhatalo explained, it emanated from audience participation.

She said: “This year’s festival is different because it is headquartered at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse cinema; allowing pass-holders and the public a place to share the excitement.”

This interactive spirit started with Film in the City, an EIFF programme of outdoor screenings, which overlap the main festival.

Vanhatalo said: “The screenings take place over two weekends, both of which show family films in a friendly atmosphere.

“On the first weekend there was a dance-a-long show that kept the crowd warm, even in high winds. The outdoor setting brought together film-lovers who wouldn’t otherwise meet.”

This interactivity continues in the festival’s new strand: Doc of the Day; a changing daily feature that explores EIFF non- fiction films, through activities.

Vanhatalo explained: “Doc of the Day will host events like sherry tastings and a rock gig, as well as traditional Q&A discussions.”

This non -fiction focus takes the EIFF back to its 1947 roots; when it was a documentary showcase, held by the Edinburgh Film Guild.

Now the EIFF enjoys the support of Creative Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council, EventScotland, Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund and the British Film Institute.

EIFF prides itself in presenting both factual and fictional films from home and abroad.

Vanhatalo said: “Our programme is filled with films from 44 different countries. Some highlights from this year’s programme are the Mexican movie: 600 Miles from Mexico/USA, German film: Who Am I – No System Is Safe, Canadian/Kiwi horror: Turbo Kid, and the Chinese/American film: The Iron Ministry.”

She added: “We have 34 films in our programme with a Scottish connection.

“The Best of British strand shows new films from Scotland, England and Wales, including: Iona, The Pyramid Texts, The Violators, 45 Years and The Marriage of Reason & Squalor.”

These and many more films will compete in the EIFF Awards Ceremony; in Filmhouse 1, on June 26 (1pm). This event is open to the public and free.

Vanhatalo said: “EIFF has a mixture of free events, special events and events attached to film tickets. We also have special discounts, on multi- film purchases, via the EIFF brochure.”

She concluded: “EIFF has something for all ages. It has the Film Fest Junior strand and Inside Out UK premiere for families; The Young and The Wild strand for 15-19 year- olds; and films of an adult nature for others.”

For information on EIFF 2015 or on joining next year’s – 70th anniversary – celebrations visit the festival website.