FRINGE PREVIEW – Festival giants wheel out green dream for August

The Assembly Rooms on the Fringe

The capital’s bustling George Street is to be turned into a calm, leafy oasis during the Fringe, thanks to green innovations by The Famous Spiegeltent, the Assembly Rooms Fringe and the Edinburgh International Book Festival – including a new bicycle hire scheme.

As well as working independently to make their venues as environmentally friendly as possible, the three pillars of the festival have joined forces with Cycle Scotland to launch a bike rental service from their sites, so people can move easily and quickly between their venues, as well as further afield.

George Street is being closed between Frederick and Hanover Streets for the duration of the Fringe, so The Famous Spiegeltent can be built opposite the newly refurbished Assembly Rooms. And, in keeping with the building’s sophisticated new look, organisers are surrounding The Famous Spiegelterrace with lush yew hedging to create a relaxing urban garden, mirroring the tranquil atmosphere at the Book Festival’s leafy Charlotte Square Gardens site.

Live classical and acoustic music will be performed on the Aperol stage in The Famous Spiegelterrace’s bar area and this will also feature short readings by authors from the Book Festival.

Spiegelmaestro, David Bates, Director of The Famous Spiegeltent, said: “For 16 years, The Famous Spiegeltent has been the eye in the festival storm. Now it has become the oasis of calm in the middle of the city – a green, chilled-out environment like no other.

“Linked with beautiful Charlotte Square Gardens by bicycles on demand, this will be a very cool way to experience the festival. You can relax at The Famous Spiegelterrace with a book, newspapers, coffee or a spritzer and the festival will come to you.”

Andrew Coulton, Administrative Director of Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: “The Book Festival has been committed to reducing its environmental impact for several years, in particular recently introducing a number of innovations on the festival site that have allowed us to significantly reduce energy consumption and waste to landfill.

“I’m very pleased that this year we’ll be working in partnership with Cycle Scotland, the Assembly Rooms Fringe and The Famous Spiegeltent to provide a bike rental service.  For audiences, cycling around our compact festival city not only reduces their carbon footprint, but will allow them to avoid the inevitable stresses of congestion and parking and instead take in the unique festival atmosphere and World Heritage Site.”

Tommy Sheppard, Director of Assembly Rooms Fringe, said: “I think we’ve got the greenest project ever undertaken in the Fringe. We have recycling schemes for our waste, the bike hire scheme, and the perimeter of The Famous Spiegelterrace will be built using living yew hedge in over 200 wooden box planters. Not only will this look much nicer than the ugly aluminium building-site fences that other venues use, but it means it can be used again and again.

You can read our feature on the new Assembly Rooms.

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