Hidden Door 2023 Venue Revealed

Hidden Door 2023 will be taking over the former Scottish Widows complex at 15 Dalkeith Road in Edinburgh for a five-day immersive event.

From 31 May to 4 June, audiences will be invited into the building to witness its transformation from an office space into a spectacular, atmospheric festival of music, performance and art.

The iconic building, made of a series of hexagonal shapes, was designed by the architect John Hardie Glover. Since it opened in 1976 it has hosted financial institutions, with Lloyds Banking Group moving out of the site in 2020. 

15 Dalkeith Road will provide the perfect blank canvas for the 2023 event, for which Hidden Door is planning something a little different. The maze of office and utility spaces in the six-acre site will host an incredible immersive event bringing together a whole range of art forms, including visual art, music, dance, and spoken word.

A series of ambitious collaborative projects produced by Hidden Door will see artists and performers from different disciplines working together to transform the vast interior. Audiences will be invited to journey deep into the building to seek out the performances and explore the artworks. The full programme will be announced early next year, with a call for visual artists, dancers, musicians and spoken word performers to get involved.

David Martin, Creative Director of Hidden Door, said:

“This is the sort of building I’ve always dreamed about taking over for Hidden Door. It has a sort of ‘Tardis’ quality – although it does look pretty big from the outside, nothing quite prepares you for the expanse of spaces on the inside – you really could get lost in there!

“Every time we consider an empty building in Edinburgh we ask ourselves what we could do with it, and this one presents us with the opportunity to do something quite different. We will commission a series of projects that will see artists working with musicians, dancers, set designers, lighting artists and sound designers, all creating a series of experiential theatrical environments throughout the building for our audience to discover. We really are aiming for high impact next year!”

Hidden Door are working in partnership with Schroders Capital’s Real Estate team and Corran Properties, who are leading the redevelopment proposals for the site. Redevelopment of the property is planned with proposals to revitalise the building as a leading example of a sustainable urban workspace with new residential accommodation, set within a stunning landscape setting.

Rebecca Gates, Head of UK Asset Management, Schroders Capital’s Real Estate team, said:

“Ahead of looking to breathe new life into this very important building, we are delighted to support Hidden Door Festival’s wonderful proposals to transform the vacant space into a temporary cultural arts venue which can be enjoyed by the public.”

A limited release of Early Bird Tickets sold out within 24 hours following our venue announcement. Once the full programme is announced, ticket holders will be able to select which days they would like to attend.

Hidden Door 2023 is supported by Baillie Gifford and other generous partners and sponsors.

The organisers are working closely with the City of Edinburgh Council and other organisations to ensure the event will be safe and compliant.

About Hidden Door

Hidden Door is an arts organisation which aims to open up urban spaces as a platform for new and emerging artists, musicians, theatre makers, performers, film makers and poets based in Scotland. Through organising temporary events Hidden Door works to showcase new work and create engaging environments for the public to experience, explore and discover.

The festival has steadily grown in size and reputation since it began in 2014, when it cleared out the abandoned Market Street vaults to run a 9-day arts festival showcasing local creative talent. In 2015 the festival moved to a hidden courtyard behind Kings’ Stables Road, and returned 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 resurrecting “Scotland’s best new live music venue”, winning VisitScotland’s Thistle Award for “Best Cultural Event”.

In 2018, the festival returned to Leith Theatre, also taking up residence in the derelict former State Cinema, just around the corner. A farewell weekend event took place at Leith Theatre in 2019. During the pandemic, Hidden Door put on a series of online events, and returned with a bang to live events for a five-day outdoor event at Granton Gasworks in 2021.

Earlier in 2022, Hidden Door took over the Old Royal High School on Calton Hill for a ten day festival that brought life back to the school for the first time in years.