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[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?



  1. It’ll be great – it worked for us! Have a look at the website and if you want to collaborate, let’s do it!

  2. yes.

  3. I had an idea only this morning, roughly the same sort of thing, for a forthcoming commission called “the collected works of Simon Bowes” – all the ideas i’ll never be able to afford to do because of the DCMS. But I like your cards idea very much, as well as the real-time of thinking. So in principle I would be more than willing to support this new venture, and possibly contrinbute…

  4. Sounds like genius to me. Unfortunately, I probably won’t be making it to Edinburgh. Could we orchestrate a London one after?

    *cheeky but hopeful grin

  5. Er, YEAH!

  6. Me.

  7. I’m in. That way I can pretend I’m in Edinburgh.

  8. Love the idea.
    Some interesting connections with current exhibition at the Cornerhouse, Manchester:

  9. Me.


    non zero one.

  10. I love it!
    Count me in, please!

  11. Thanks for all your support people.

    We’re now collecting events at a rate of knots. Feel free to leave them here in the comments if you have any.

    Laura, love the look of that exhibition at the Cornerhouse. Thanks for bringing it my attention.

    I think it’s something that’s preoccupying a lot of people at the moment, in part at least as Simon says because we’re all so overburdened at the moment by the sense of impossibility attached to actually realising anything. The feat of getting something done is an art in itself, at which quite possibly Punchdrunk and their collaborators are the very best.

    That exhibition also feels like it has real overtones of H Plewis’ Cabinet of Ideas. Be interesting to see how that goes down in Edinburgh and if it can generate a real energy behind it. I hope so.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by elizabeth rose, Jacob Sam-La Rose. Jacob Sam-La Rose said: This is a ghost festival. A festival of imagined events, hoped-for possibilities and outrageous lies. (via @andytfield) […]

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