7
Aug 03

The Spiegelgarden, Edinburgh

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The Spiegelgarden, Edinburgh

Your temporary festival beer-fountain is always a risky prospect. Some of the attics, basements and back bedrooms converted into licensed premises during August in Edinburgh can amount to little more than a couple of cans of lager on a formica tabletop. Two new drinkers this year show both how to do it, and definitely how not to do it.

How not to do it is the anonymous, vaguely Czech-themed marquee at the central path junction in the Meadows. A tent reminiscent of a scout camp or village fete; some odd beer-token system in operation; an in-yer-face compere in the Butlins style; noise and general unpleasantness. Thanks to the noise, the self-appointed busy-bodies in the Friends of the Meadows who are threatening to nix the mooted skate park are also pushing for a bar on renewal of the license for this place when it expires at the end of the week. Good luck to ’em, say I.

How to do it: The Spiegelgarden. The Spiegeltent is an Edinburgh institution, although you do well to catch it as it flits from site to site each year. After a couple of years at the Book Festival, it’s now been pitched in George Square, at the heart of the university’s central site, and just behind the Gilded Balloon and the Pleasance Dome, which face each other across Bristo Square pretty much the way they did as rival union buildings when I was a student. And in collaboration with Montpeliers, the owners of Indigo Yard & The Assembly (was Iguana until a few weeks ago), they’ve struck Festival Gold. Alongside the Spiegeltent itself (amazing wood and mirror construction which feels as far from canvas and damp as you can imagine) there’s another beer tent with: leffe, hoegaarden etc. on tap; decently priced food; ace heat lamps (essential!); subdued lighting; and a good atmosphere. Outside are more seats and with coloured lights strung between the trees, this year’s enchanted festival garden is complete. Best of all — not residential, so licensed past the pitiful 11pm offered by their rivals on the Meadows.

See you there!

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