Leith: Culturally & Creatively Free

If you’ve spent any amount of time in Edinburgh over the last few years, then you’ll know Leith is where to have your business right now.

10 years ago you’d be scared to walk down Leith Walk at any time of day, never mind at night. But recently, Leith Walk has become host to a lot more than a cosmopolitan approach to grocery shopping.


‘The TrainSpotting days are disappearing.’


Before Leith Walk came onto the social scene, Leith was only known for ‘The Shore’:(that’s actually the name of the street, it leads onto the Forth) an area that brings together fine dining experiences such as ‘The Kitchin’–internationally renowned Scottish chef, Tom Kitchin’s restaurant–alongside cruise ship eateries, fancy restaurants with a pub feel and nice bars. Of course, the old man pub was still an option.

‘The Shore’ soon expanded into it’s quirky, cobbled streets. The area was on the rise, with kitsch bars and restaurants such as Sofi’s and The Roseleaf, that together provide ‘a down the rabbit hole’ experience. The latter rolling with this as their main concept.


Then came Leith Walk.

When you say you are from Scotland to anyone from another country, they usually say “Oh, Braveheart!”

Leith Walk was more: “Nah mate, think Trainspotting.

However, the TrainSpotting days are disappearing. Leith Walk has always been a testimony to the multi culturalism Edinburgh takes pride in, with the street offering food from all corners of the world, proudly made by local people. Now, Leith is growing its own wings, with up-cycle shops, and an ever-growing selection of cafe’s and unique bars, accommodating to all ages, genders, musical preferences and artistic endeavours.

Had Leith not had it’s rocky past, the Walk would be  rammed with tourists and branded tat.

This is what’s so great: it’s not.


Most recently, Leith has become host to a growing arts scene, with new galleries, art studios and festivals: bringing creative people and their business to the area.

The cultural, spirited, creative freedom of Leith is what makes it such a unique place.


Over the summer period, Leith Walk showcases its creative talent with events such as Leith Late. Originally a one-off event, Leith Late is now a mini festival, taking on niche crevices of the street (think a book shop and the laundrette) to bring exhibitions, live music and talks.

Then we have the newbie, Hidden Door festival: still in its infancy as far as Edinburgh festivals go, but going from strength to strength each year. The week long festival most recently took over Leith Theatre, a derelict and unused building next to Leith School of Art, and transformed it into an creative haven.

Since Hidden Door took over in June, the theatre has become host to creative groups from across Scotland, hosting events for the first time in years. The festival successfully revived the theatre’s activity as a creative space, with The List putting it up there as one of Scotland’s best new music venues, should some renovations take place.

The cultural, spirited, creative freedom of Leith is what makes it such a unique area, although a little rough around the edges, it has charm and potential. This is what separates Leith from other expanding areas, and what stops it from being gentrified to a point where cultural and creative freedom are no longer possible. The quirky edge and micro-national pride is what makes it so appealing: you won’t find anywhere else like it.



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