Leith Chill Fest

Leith Chill Fest

A calmer, boozy alternative to the festival madness happening in the centre of town

With Edinburgh International Festival programming an extensive range of live gigs as part of their Light on the Shore strand at Leith Theatre this year, Edinburgh's old port district is no longer the dead zone it was in August until just a few years ago. In fact, as Edinburgh locals all know, Leith has been the liveliest part of the city for a while, and is now pretty far removed from its edgy, Trainspotting-inspired reputation which is at least a decade or two out of date.

Not that many locals in the most densely populated district in Scotland care if the Festival knows what goes on in Leith, because most are probably happy to get on with life without having to navigate map-reading crowds of tourists on Leith Walk. But plenty of them love what's good about their area and are happy to show it off to visitors, which is where the new Leith Chill Fest comes in.

'We spoke about how vibrant Leith is, and about how few people come down here during the Festival,' says Anna Christopherson, one of the organisers of the Chill Fest, and also the co-owner of the city-wide chain of grassroots Swedish pubs which have their roots in Leith Walk's Boda. 'We'd like people to come and see it, but we needed to do something to try and attract them. People miss out if they come to Edinburgh but they don't see any of Leith.'

'I approached Anna back in March, as I wanted to create an event which showcased the community spirit in Leith,' says Emma Loane of the Shore's Malmaison hotel. 'The area's well known for its food and has a plethora of bars serving amazing cocktails. My idea at the time was very loose, but Anna helped me with putting a firm plan in place for how to showcase Leith as an alternative destination to the festival whilst raising money for a local charity. I started approaching bars to see if they'd like to be involved, and the response I received was far beyond anything I had imagined.'

Leith Chill Fest

The idea behind Leith Chill Fest is for attendees to buy a special wristband for £5 (valid for the duration of the festival), which will allow them to buy a specially designed signature cocktail from each of the participating bars in the area for just £5. Bars include the four Boda-owned bars in Leith (Boda, Victoria, Sofi's, Joseph Pearce), Woodland Creatures, The Lioness of Leith, Roseleaf, Miss Woo's, Malmaison's own bar and many others. There's also a 20% discount on food in Malmaison, as well as cocktail masterclasses and live music throughout the participating venues.

Sixty per cent of the proceeds will then be split between two local charities, the Leith Citadel Community Centre and the Projekt 42 community gym. 'The charities we've picked are doing such amazing things for the area,' says Loane. 'There's so much going on in Leith aside from the bars, it's undergone huge changes in the ten years I've been living here and there are more to come. It's easily accessed from the city centre and has everything you could need for a good day and night out. The Fringe is still heavily focused around the centre, but it can only be a matter of time before the venues start to spread out. Hopefully events like Chill Fest contribute towards this happening and we see some more activity in other areas of the city.'

Leith Chill Fest, until 2 Sep, various venues throughout Leith, leithchillfest.com.

Leith Chill Fest

Month-long celebration of the best bars in Leith, with plenty of cocktails to please your tastebuds.

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