Dock Life - The Leith Festival

Dock Life - The Leith Festival

Summer Festivals Special

Leith has blossomed beyond all recognition in recent years and the Leith Festival is just another example how. Miles Fielder has the lowdown

So what’s The Leith Festival, then?
It’s an annual community celebration that takes in comedy, dance, film, literature, music, storytelling theatre, visual art and children’s events – in other words everything.

A small affair, is it?
Hardly. Its roots go back over 100 years to the 1907 Leith Pageant – a parade held to raise funds for a new hospital in the area – which became a festival in the 1970s. Since the millennium it’s expanded rapidly and can now boast 150 events at 50 venues within a one-mile radius that has been regularly drawing audiences of over 30,000 for the past three years.

What’s going on this year?
Bruce Morton, described by this magazine as ‘the godfather of Scottish comedy’, stands up for one night only. The Caledonian Swing Cats teach you how to dance like they did in the 1940s with Swingin’ in the Docks. Strange Town Youth Theatre present 12 Stories featuring 33 characters in four days. Everything from homegrown Gothic thrillers to wacky European animation will be premiered at the Leith Short Film Festival. Rising star of Scottish crime fiction Karen Campbell talks about After the Fire, her new novel featuring Sgt Anna Cameron, a contender for Rebus’ crown. Pop combo Aberfeldy return to the place they originated from to play a gig in advance of the release of their third album.

Ocean Terminal gets a makeover as its transformed into a giant art gallery. And that’s a smattering of what’s on. There’s also a plethora of walks, talks, tours, workshops, food and arts and crafts stalls.

Phew! That’s all folks?
By no means. The week-long programme of events climaxes with the Gala Day and Parade at Leith Links, where live bands and radio broadcasts from Leith FM will provide a soundtrack to a summer afternoon of sunshine on Leith.

The Leith Festival, is at various venues, Leith, Sat 5–Sun 14 Jun.

Lee Paterson

Rock, blues and pop covers and originals.

Kim Edgar

Acoustic pop, jazz and original compositions on piano, guitar and voice from Kim Edgar who has performed at Cambridge Folk Festival, on Later… with Jools Holland and at the opening of the Scottish Parliament's fourth session.

Jamie Smith

Fiddler and general tunesmith Smith performs live.

Jakil, Sidelock and Fate of A Stranger

Funk rock crossover from the charismatic Jakil.

Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards

Singer-songwriter and fiddler from Uncle Earl with her band.

Lights Out By Nine

The ever-popular stomping blues powerhouse perform.


Walk a replica of the medieval Chartres Labyrinth for contemplation or prayer. 'Part of Leith Festival'.

Leith Victoria AAC Boxing Show

The Leith Dockers Club shows off it's prowess in the ring across amateur, youth and novice categories. 'Part of Leith Festival'.

Leith Then and Now

An illustrated presentation of Leith from the late 19th century to the present day. 'Part of Leith Festival'.

Leith Community Concert Band

The group returns for its annual concert with a programme of popular favourites and the not so well known.

The Kilmarnock Edition Live: An Evening With John Cairney

The man who played Robert Burns on TV and on stage illustrates Burns in verse, prose and song, through the paintings in the 'Inspired' exhibition.

Leith Children's African Storytelling Competition 2009

The first storytelling competition for children in Scotland with teams from Fort and Victoria Primaries competing. 'Part of the Leith Festival'.

Leith Festival Children's Writing

Hear stories written by P5 Leithers. 'Part of the Leith Festival'.

Leith Festival Storytelling Club

Myths, fables and tall tales from Leith's best young storytellers and guests from all over Scotland. 'Part of the Leith Festival'.

Leith Festival Art Expo

Leith and Edinburgh based artists exhibit. 'Part of the Leith Festival'.

Keara Murphy

A show in the company of comedian and actress Keara Murphy, as well as her many character creations in 'Lyre Burd - One Burd, Many Voices'. 'Part of the Leith Festival'

Leith Festival

The vibrant community of Leith shows off its abundant festival skills with a fun-packed programme of events including exhibitions, concerts, walks, talks and films. Have a special look out for the Festival Gala Day and the Leith Festival Tattoo.