Hidden Door at Leith Theatre

A brief history of Hidden Door’s venues

We open up forgotten urban spaces for the public to explore and discover incredible music, art, theatre, film, dance, spoken word and more. Through our festivals we reveal hidden parts of the city and showcase new and emerging artists, musicians, theatre and film makers.

The festival has steadily grown in size and reputation since 2014, when we cleared out the abandoned Market Street vaults to run a 9-day arts festival focused on showcasing local creative talent.

In 2015 the festival moved to a hidden courtyard behind Kings’ Stables Road, and returned to the same site in 2016, attracting over 12,000 visitors to experience a wealth of art, poetry, theatre, cinema, dance and music.

In 2017 the festival breathed new life into the old Leith Theatre, attracting rave reviews and critical praise for its role in resurrecting “Scotland’s best new live music venue”.

In 2018, the festival returned to Leith Theatre for 10 more days and nights of music, theatre, visual art, film, dance, spoken word, late-night DJs and special events – finishing what was started to transform the building into the major arts venue the city needs. Continuing the festival’s tradition of discovering forgotten spaces, the festival also took up residency in Leith’s empty and derelict former State Cinema building, just around the corner.

Following a weekender at Leith Theatre in 2019, and an online-only series of shows in 2020 due to the pandemic, we opened up the epic Granton Gasworks in north Edinburgh in 2021, set in the shadow of the iconic gas holder. We also transformed a nearby disused warehouse into a vast exhibition and performance space as part of the festival. The additional venue doubled the footprint of the festival, allowing us to exhibit the work of recent art graduates whose degree shows were cancelled due to COVID-19.

In 2022, we brought the old Royal High School on Calton Hill to life for a ten day festival of live music, visual art, dance, theatre and spoken word. The building, mostly silent since the school closed in the 1960s, was used to celebrate Scotland’s exciting new and emerging creative talent.

In 2023, we transformed the former Scottish Widows office complex on Dalkeith Road for a five-day spectacular event. Our unique “Environments” invited audiences to explore our venue in an immersive and atmospheric experience that attracted 5-star reviews.

We’re already making plans for 2024 – we have found several potential new sites across Edinburgh and are now seeking to raise £20,000 in funds to take our plans to the next stage.

Hidden Door is a registered charity, number SC050108.

Over the years, our festival has supported over 3000 artists and performers to develop work and reach new audiences. Our volunteer-run charity is entirely funded through ticket sales, sponsorship and fundraising. All money raised goes into running the festival and ensuring their creative contributors are fairly paid.

Our core team are all volunteers, working hard throughout the year to make Hidden Door a reality.