As Edinburgh’s newest – and hippest – multi-arts venue, Summerhall has quickly evolved from its former life as the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies into a cutting edge performance space.
Year round it puts on a programme of largely avant-garde, occasionally political exhibitions, talks, music, theatre and dance, and film events – as well as functioning as a space for workshops and residencies.
It’s quickly emerged as the go-to for ground-breaking, thought-provoking work during the Festival, with shows performed in everything from the lecture hall-slash-theatre spaces, to site-specific works in basement corridors and tiny lifts. In lesser hands dubbing yourself as a ‘cross cultural village for innovators’ would sound a little, well, pretentious. But here, they largely deliver.
Geeks aren’t ignored either, with the addition of TechCube providing a space for technology start-ups to rub shoulders and develop their ideas.
Eccentricities from its former life as a veterinary school reside throughout what’s essentially a labyrinth of a building, from the odd bit of taxidermy on the wall and operating tables in the bar, to the much-loved Dissection Room.
Beyond its success an arts venue, it’s also establishing itself as a popular place to grab a coffee or a beer, and The Royal Dick Bar and Bistro, which was once the Small Animal Hospital at the school is fast emerging as great place to loiter in, largely thanks to a decent food menu. Across in the café, a decent cuppa is guaranteed, along with a regular exhibition of pop art posters, including work by usual suspects Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and more.
As an additional hoorah, they have a resident craft brewery, which produces Summerhall Pale Ale, brewed by Barney’s Beer.