Royal High School coloured background

Old Royal High School revealed as 2022 venue

Hidden Door is delighted to announce that it will be bringing 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 property, which has mostly lain empty since the school closed in the late 1960s, will be used to celebrate Scotland’s exciting new and emerging creative talent before work begins to transform it into Scotland’s new National Centre for Music.

The festival will completely transform the entire complex from 9 – 18 June 2022.

Inside the vast building, forgotten rooms will be transformed into performance spaces and given over to artists to fill with installations.

The audience will be encouraged to explore the myriad of passageways, corridors, nooks and crannies that make up this remarkable building.

One of the most impressive rooms, the central debate chamber, will host specially commissioned in-the-round performances and spectacular events that respond to the unique space.

Outside, a stage will be built for large music performances and a bar will take over the front terrace, giving festival goers a unique view on the city.

David Martin, Creative Director of Hidden Door, said:

“This is such an incredible site for Hidden Door! It is such a privilege to be able to bring one of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings back to life.

“It feels really exciting, in what is still a very challenging period for the arts, to invite Scotland’s newest, most daring artists, dancers, theatre-makers, poets and musicians to take over such a prestigious building that has been dark for so long and flood it with creative energy. It feels important to bring Scotland’s young creatives right into the centre of the city this time to celebrate what they do. 

“We know that the public will enjoy exploring this unique building too. The place is full of surprises, and it lends itself to Hidden Door’s ethos of creating an environment that the public can explore and discover new things.

“We have been inside quite a few times now, with maps and plans, and we still get lost! I can’t wait for everyone to get a chance to wander around and get lost too.”

Hidden Door are working in partnership with the organisations who are involved with the development of the site into the new National Centre for Music. In October, permission was granted for the restoration of the building into a centre for music education and performance.

One of those organisations is St Mary’s Music School.

Headteacher Kenneth Taylor said:

“It is great to be involved in this celebration of the breadth and diversity of artistic and creative practice alive in Scotland, and a real opportunity for our young musicians to share their contribution to this vibrant and engaging scene.

“The setting of the Old Royal High School is a perfect canvas for the imagination – opening doors to memories of its past and excitement about its future – especially as it will become the home for our pupils.” 

Tickets are available via or from Citizen Ticket. Once the full programme is announced in February, ticket holders will be able to select which days they would like to attend.

The organisers are working closely with the local council and other organisations to ensure the event will be safe and compliant with any Covid restrictions in place at the time.

An Early Bird ticket allows entry to one day of the festival of your choosing. This year’s festival runs from Thursday 9 June until Saturday 18 June. Doors open from 1pm with free entry until 5pm. Tickets will be required after 5pm until 1am (subject to licence).

Book with confidence – all tickets are fully refundable if the event is cancelled due to Covid-19 or if you are unable to attend due to Covid-19 symptoms.

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.





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