Most of the larger Fringe venues are long-established and regular festival-goers will have trekked a well-trodden route between the Pleasance, Assembly, Gilded Balloon, et al. So when a major new venue arrives on the scene, it is an occasion to be savoured.
Summerhall made its first appearance as a Fringe venue in 2011, with a small but acclaimed programme. This year they have returned under new ownership as a force to be reckoned with. The former Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a 2.5 acre site boasting over 500 rooms, two courtyards, and its own street. And it seems none of that space is going to waste, with a programme of 50 shows, 30 art exhibitions and numerous films running throughout August.
As well as the obligatory cafe, bar and restaurant, visitors can also expect to find an eclectic mix of antiques and original fittings from the old veterinary school, fascinating details and hidden treasures tucked into unexpected corners. This is a venue in which you could easily – and fruitfully – spend an entire day or more.
Perhaps the most exciting news of all is that when the Fringe is over, Summerhall is set to remain as a year-round hub for the arts and science. If their hotly anticipated Fringe programme is anything to go by, Summerhall looks set to be an excellent addition to Edinburgh’s cultural community.