The Wonderful World of Spiegeltents

Ibibio Sound Machine Edinburgh Jazz Festival

My festival season got off to a great start with Ibibio Sound Machine at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. As per tradition, it was a rainy Edinburgh July night that felt more like October, but the crowd were keen and the band delivered. Think high energy funk meets African percussion with a dash of Michael Jackson-esque synth and you're just about there.

The gig was great but I was possibly even more excited to see a spiegeltent back in Edinburgh. Smaller and more intimate than a big top, they're my favourite festival venue. They travel from city to city, something that appeals to anyone who ever dreamed of running away to join the circus and the decor is like nothing else. Part tent, part wooden construction, they are bejewelled with mirrors, stained glass and magical lighting.

It turns out that spiegeltents have been around since the early 20th century when they were used as travelling dance halls - Marlene Dietrich is said to have sang Falling in Love Again in the Famous Spiegeltent in the 1930s. Today the few remaining spiegeltents are in high demand at festivals around the world, holding a few hundred people and providing a great stage for bands, cabaret and good times. 

I visited the Paradiso for the Jazz Festival gig and in August I'm hoping to visit the George Square Spiegeltent to compare notes. You can find out more about spiegeltents (even hire one if you've got the budget) here at the Van Rosmalen website.