The Imaginary Festival


The Imaginary Festival

[Update: Reading this back I can’t help but acknowledge the influence of Tim Etchell’s beautiful SMS piece for the Norwich and Norfolk Festival. I’d like to create something similar but, in keeping with the nature of a festival like Edinburgh, I’d like us all to be involved in the making of it. For each of us to have our own imagined events, or series of imagined events. All collectively making up this larger entity.]

This is a ghost festival.

A festival of imagined events. A festival of hoped-for possibilities. A festival of outrageous lies.

I want us to create a festival that happens in the few brief silences still left in Edinburgh. A festival that happens when you’re waiting in a queue, or sitting in a coffee shop. A festival that happens under an umbrella in the rain. A festival that happens when you’re lost and wondering what to do. A festival that happens in the few moments between sitting down and the show starting. A festival that lives in the city’s blindspot. A few carefully chosen words dropped into a pause in the busyness of the city.

This is how it might work. We make up some events for our imagined festival. Only the most fleeting and tiny ideas. Maybe 20 words. 140 characters:

Two men in matching animal costumes chasing a Ford Focus.
A fire that might be out of control.
A man trapped on a motorway embankment.
Everything you can remember about history recounted backwards.
A hall of mirrors in total darkness.
An abandoned keyboard playing its demo track till the battery runs down.

But each one is an event in its own right, or at least the suggestion of an event. Dozens of them. Maybe even hundreds.

Before the festival proper starts, I would get them printed on cards and we hand them out to people during the festival. Everyone gets an event, to read when they get a break. To imagine in their own time. Everyone that has one has a wristband drawn on, to show that they are at this festival. This way others will know they are there and can compare notes on what they saw. They can swap cards. Continue to hand them out and around. The festival grows.

On the back of each card is a web address that gives people a list of contributors and, eventually, once the festival proper is over, a full list of events.

And that’s all there is to it really. So who’s interested?


This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!