Community Spirit at Leith Festival
29 Jun 2006
The Leith festival is one of the many events organised by the city ofEdinburgh. Everybody agrees that a strong community feeling can be felton the streets around the port, during the 2-11 of June.
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The Leith festival is one of the many events organised by the city ofEdinburgh. Everybody agrees that a strong community feeling can be felton the streets around the port, during the 2-11 of June. Leith issomething more than just a part of the city.More than a century agoLeith was an independent town, so it isn’t surprising that most peopleliving there still consider themselves more as “Leithers” than an”Edinburghers”.
A nice way to understand the seventies’ atmosphere in Leith is totake part to the “Trainspotting Tour”. This is an original toursorganised during the festival. Tim Bell is an established Leither,former friend of Irvine Welsh and lived in the area for a long time. Onthe tour he guides visitors around the area, with Welsh’s books in hishands, stopping wherever the author of has mentioned parts of Leith andreading parts of the book. Everyone on the tour goes home with thefeeling of knowing Leith, its people and backgrounds. Attending thedebates on what Leith means with the participation of five Leiththinkers’ is another interesting way to enter into the spirit of thisevent and recognise the strong sense of community in the air. As SandyCampbell, the Leith Festival chairman, says: “Leith isn’t just apostcode, it’s a state of mind.”
The festival had a mixed programme and was held in more than 60venues. Lots of the audience had a family member performing. Peopleproudly attend the events and enjoy spending a week following concerts,dance performances and art exhibitions. The highlight of the week wasthe Gala day that took place on Saturday before the closing. Thousandsof people started the day with a walk through the streets of theneighbourhood, finishing in Leith Links, the park, where music, andexhibitions were running all day long, transforming the park in a bigparty.
All this started a long time ago and that’s why Leithers’ pride intheir community is justified. With the founding of the Leith Hospital,around the time of the First World War, the Leith Pageant predated whatnow has turned into the festival. The years around the turn of themillennium saw a consolidation of the week’s event with theparticipation of more and more international performers. During thelast three years the festival has witnessed an increase from 33 to 261performances with an audience of over 20,000.
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