Sign the petition to save FLY Open Air

The annual dance music festival in Princes Street Gardens is under threat from new Edinburgh Council restrictions; organisers fight back with a petition

Article by Jamie Dunn | 12 Jun 2019
  • Fly Open Air

Edinburgh may brand itself as The Festival City, but we're not sure anyone has told Edinburgh Council. FLY Open Air, the popular dance music festival that has been held at Ross Band Stand in Princes Street Gardens for the past three years, looks to be in danger of not going ahead this year after the powers-that-be at Edinburgh Council hit the event with a new set of demands and restrictions that FLY say may make it impossible for the festival to go ahead. The story was first reported in the Edinburgh Evening News.

The upshot of the council's new scrutiny on events in Princes Street Gardens is that FLY Open Air has been asked to reduce in size. Rather than spilling out into the Gardens, as it has done in previous years, FLY Open Air would have to be self-contained within the Ross Band Stand. That means the festival's toilets, food trucks, bars and production facilities would have to be included in the bandstand's space, as well as the first aid station. "It would be really unsafe because it would be really cramped with queuing everywhere and make the space so small that it’s just not viable," FLY's founder Tom Ketley told Edinburgh Live. "It can’t go ahead the way they’re suggesting."

Ketley said: “We’ve been doing [FLY Open Air] in Princes Street Gardens for three years and never encountered any issues at all. But because other large events have since moved into the park – we saw stuff with those big black boards blocking the view from Princes Street – it has caused a bigger argument and placed more scrutiny on the park." The "big black boards" Ketley refers to are the obtrusive boarding put up by DF Concerts for their Summer Sessions gig series held in August; there will be nine Summer Sessions gigs in the park this August, up from five in 2018.

FLY was founded by Ketley while he was a student in Edinburgh, and has since grown to emcompass weekly nights at Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh, regular nights at Sub Club in Glasgow, as well as Open Air festivals in central Edinburgh and at Hopetoun House just outside the city [disclosure: The Skinny was a media partner for FLY Open Air's spring 2019 edition].

While speaking to Resident Advisor, Ketley was more forceful in his condemnation of the new Princes Street restrictions, suggesting there's a class element involved in FLY Open Air being targeted. "Diversity and youth culture is at risk of being nullified just as Edinburgh was starting to get back on the map internationally..." he said. "There seems to be one rule for the older middle class looking to go and watch Tom Jones and another for us. It's grossly unfair, and we're urging our community to get behind our petition and make our voice heard."

If you agree you can do just that by signing the petition that has been set up to in a bid to save FLY Open Air. Click here to lend your support.