Celebrate St Andrews Day with us!

St Andrews Day 1We are delighted to be part of the Scottish Government’s St Andrew’s Day celebrations this year.  ‘Visit For Free’ is a 3 day extravaganza of visitor attractions inviting residents to explore whats on their doorstep this winter!

A first for The Real Mary King’s Close, we’re offering free child places from November 30th to December 2nd inclusive. Limited places are available and its strictly subject to availability – we hope that we can welcome new visitors to the attraction to experience this unique piece of Edinburgh’s, and Scotland’s, history.

Please note that we are offering one free child place per one full paying adult.  Pre-booking is strongly recommended via telephone only as places are limted – 0845 070 6244. Please note we cannot admit children under 5 years old.

Photo credit: Tony Marsh Photography

Halloween Reaches the Darkest of Depths

Plague-Doctor (1)This Halloween The Real Mary King’s Close gets darker than ever before with a special late night ‘The Dark Truth Tour’ that promises to delve deeper into Edinburgh’s murky past.

Back for the most spooky night of the year following its Festival Fringe sell out, visitors can descend into the warren of underground streets beneath the city’s Royal Mile to encounter more of the haunting characters who once roamed Edinburgh’s Old Town from the 16th to the 21st century.

Craig Miller, General Manager comments: ‘Audiences can expect an interactive entertaining tour that gives a tongue in cheek account of the edgier side to Edinburgh’s history. Whilst the facts are delivered with wit, the finer details will no doubt send a shiver down your spine!’

Not for the faint hearted, this interactive tour will reveal the whole truth behind the myths and mysteries that shroud Edinburgh’s hidden city with sinister tales of plague and pestilence and murder most horrid witnessed by those who lived, worked and died in the closes.

From body snatchers and witch prickers to the notorious plague doctor Dr George Rae, audiences may find themselves at the centre of direct scrutiny as they learn that Edinburgh’s now picturesque Old Town was once rife with crime and corruption.

The Dark Truth Tour launches the attraction’s first ever ‘Close Fest’ which is a week long programme of one off events in celebration of the attraction’s ten year anniversary since opening as one of Edinburgh’s top visitor attractions.

Prices £17.50 per ticket
Time 10pm-11pm
This tour contains adult themes and we recommend suitable for those of ages 16 years+. Please wear suitable footwear as there is walking involved, uneven surfaces and steep inclines. Guests are advised to arrive 10 mins prior to tour time. Tours start promptly and latecomers will not be admitted.

Industry leaders gather to mark important milestone

On the evening of Thursday 17th September, industry leaders from across the tourism sector gathered to celebrate the completion of the £500,000 redevelopment project at The Real Mary King’s Close.

Craig Miller, General Manager of The Real Mary Kings Close, Juliana Delaney, CEO of Continuum Attractions, Councillor Angela Blacklock, Andrew Kerr (Chief Exec of Edinburgh Council) and Kevin Smith, Attractions Director at Continuum AttractionsEsteemed guests and speakers included Andrew Kerr, Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council and Bailie Angela Blacklock alongside representatives from Historic Scotland, VisitScotland and Marketing Edinburgh.

The six-figure investment into The Real Mary King’s Close by operator Continuum Attractions is the largest investment into one of its established attractions to date.

The project has seen the 5* attraction transform with the reinstatement of doorways on the Royal Mile, creating an on-street presence, a new welcome and exhibition area as well as the creation of an internal 40-seat café, The Royal Exchange Coffee House.

Juliana Delaney, Chief Executive of Continuum Attractions commented: “It’s been a pleasure to welcome partners from the City Council and colleagues from the industry this evening to mark a new quality level of guest service for The Real Mary King’s Close. We are pleased to have the continued support of the City of Edinburgh Council; delivering their original goal of adding yet another world class attraction to the portfolio and a revenue stream.”

Guests gathered to enjoy canapés freshly made by the attraction’s new café team whilst soaking up the atmosphere of the historic former Burgh Courtroom. This will also function as an event space.

mk_close_reception-27

The Real Mary King’s Close is operated by Continuum Attractions. Now celebrating its 31st year, Continuum Attractions boasts a nationwide portfolio of popular and commercially successful cultural visitor attractions. Continuum’s seven attractions collectively welcome over one million visitors a year.

ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS:
For further media information, please contact:
Jessica Rideout – PR Executive The Real Mary King’s Close
Tel: 0131 225 0673 or email jrideout@realmarykingsclose.com

2015 investments to include the following:

  • New visitor entrance on Royal Mile and welcome area
  • New café
  • New bathroom facilities
  • Upgraded tour experience
  • New exhibition area

A New Face on the Close

A new face joined the cast of characters at The Real Mary King’s Close for a special one-off performance as part of the School Competition: History in your Hands.

The Candlemaker was created by Dunbar Primary School pupil, Adam Barnes, aged 11. Adam and his classmates joined the Candlemaker on an exclusive tour of the Close which was inspired by the original poem written by Adam himself as part of the School Competition: History in your Hands.

“I like to make candles,
Candles with handles,
Candles with wax from bees […]”

Adam and the CandlemakerThe competition was judged by children’s author Philip Caveney whose children’s fiction novels, Crow Boy, 17 Coffins and the recently released One For Sorrow, were inspired by The Real Mary King’s Close and the city of Edinburgh.

“This was a great competition to judge.” said Philip, “The range of entries received highlighted the pupils’ creativity and time and effort dedicated to the research and development of characters that were both historically appropriate and entertaining.”

The competition was set up to engage with school children whilst encouraging them to get involved with Edinburgh’s history in a creative and inventive way. From the entries received, it was clear to see that the pupils had gone the extra mile to understand the history of Mary King’s Close and the people who lived, worked and died on the Close.

In addition to the tour of the Close, the pupils were able to experience the new exhibition area which forms part of the £500,000 investment by the attraction’s operator, Continuum Attractions. The investment includes the reinstatement of doors on the Royal Mile, new welcome area and a 40-seater indoor café.

The Real Mary King’s Close welcomes school groups throughout the year to experience the uniqueness of Edinburgh’s world famous hidden history. For further information regarding school visits please contact Marta Coco mcoco@realmarykingsclose.com or visithttps://www.realmarykingsclose.com/groups.

 

Dunbar Primary School with the Candlemaker and Robert FergussonThe Real Mary King’s Close is part of Continuum Attractions who offer a host of cultural visitor attraction experiences across the UK, from the hallowed cobbles of Coronation Street to Portsmouth’s iconic Spinnaker Tower.

 

Lord Provost Lends a Helping Hand

General Manager and Lord Provost

The redevelopments that will see The Real Mary King’s Close take pride of place on The Royal Mile as part of a substantial refurbishment and expansion plan are underway with a helping hand from the RT Hon. Lord Provost, Donald Wilson.

General Manager Craig Miller and the Lord Provost shake hands the original doorways - low resWest Lothian based contractors; Ashwood Scotland Ltd will be taking charge of the build project which will include the creation a new welcome area and exhibition space as well as the reinstatement of doors on the Royal Mile. The new entrance will create a prominent on street presence for The Real Mary King’s Close, a first for the attraction.

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Donald Wilson, comments: “The reinstatement of the doors on the Royal Mile is a historic moment both for the City Chambers and The Real Mary King’s Close. I am very pleased that I could lend a helping hand and get involved with this exciting project. I am looking forward to seeing the final result in June.”

In February, Continuum Attractions announced that it would be investing £500,000 into The Real Mary King’s Close, working closely with The City of Edinburgh Council. The investment into the five-star attraction is the largest to date, marking a new phase in the Close’s history which is set to significantly enhance the visitor experience both above and below ground.

General Manager Craig Miller discussing the redevelopments with the Lord Provost - low resDesign agency Bright 3D, whose past clients include the Scotch Whisky Experience, will be responsible for ensuring the design of the redevelopments reflects the heritage and history of The Real Mary King’s Close, which are central to guest experience and the integrity of the site.

The attraction plans to remain open throughout the whole expansion process and visitors will still be able to enjoy the full underground experience during this time.  The first phase of the new investments will be in place and ready to be enjoyed from June 2015.

Going Overground

After years of roaming the warren of underground streets hidden below Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the characters of The Real Mary King’s Close are set to emerge into the spring sunshine taking guests on an overground adventure.

Walking Tour 2015 (2)

The combined underground-overground offer means there are now even more opportunities to experience Edinburgh’s rich history both above and below ground. With an underground tour of The Real Mary King’s Close followed by an overground walking tour of the surrounding Old Town, visitors to the Close will be able to put this unique site and the city’s heritage into context.

In the company of a character tour guide, visitors will be taken on a historical journey spanning nine centuries of the city’s fascinating past; covering tales from the Toll Booth to the exploration of Closes that were spared the same fate of Mary King’s Close. Whilst surrounded by architecturally diverse monuments and buildings, including the Mercat Cross and St Giles’ Cathedral, guests will discover how the residents of Edinburgh tried to keep crime out of the city walls, learn why execution north of the border had a slight advantage, get to grips with trading and local life as well as hear stories of the more infamous inhabitants of these historic streets.

Walking Tour 2015 (1)

Tour creator and site expert, Keith Baxter enthused, “The tour itself was developed to give guests an idea of what Edinburgh was like and how the city progressed through the ages linking the past to the present. This tour offers guests the opportunity to discover the real people who lived in Edinburgh, not just its most notorious inhabitants.”

Running four times daily at 13:15, 14:15, 15:15 and 16:15hrs, the hour long tour allows visitors the flexibility to go and come back between tours meaning guests can make the most of their time in Edinburgh. The overground tour is available to those booking a standard underground tour and is £5 on top of a standard tour ticket.

From April 2015 standard ticket prices are, Adult £13.95, Child £8.25* and Concession £12.50. Family tickets are also available at £37.75.**
Pre-booking is recommended; advance bookings can be made by calling 0845 070 6244 or in person at The Real Mary King’s Close.

The Real Mary King’s Close is part of Continuum Attractions who offer a host of cultural visitor attraction experiences across the UK, from the hallowed cobbles of Coronation Street to Portsmouth’s iconic Spinnaker Tower.

*Due to the nature of the site, this tour is not suitable for children under 5yrs.  A child refers to those aged between 5yrs – 15yrs.
**The Family Ticket is based on admitting two adults and two children

The Real Mary King’s Close To Get Miles Better!

The Real Mary King’s Close is soon to take pride of place on The Royal Mile as part of a substantial refurbishment and expansion plan following a growth in visitor figures for the fifth year running.

 

Artist's impression of new entrance for The Real Mary Kings Close

The announcement comes as the five star Edinburgh attraction welcomes its 2 millionth visitor since opening back in 2003, having enjoyed a steady 3.6% year on year average growth in visitor numbers over the last five. Last year alone the iconic attraction welcomed over 200,000 guests of which the majority were from outside the UK.

The £500,000 development is the largest investment into the attraction to date and marks a new phase in the Close’s history that is set to significantly enhance the visitor experience both above and below ground. The six figure enhancements follow the £25,000 sum invested in the site in 2013 as part of ten year celebrations, ensuring that this popular five star attraction continues to bolster Edinburgh’s tourism offering whilst exceeding visitor expectations.

Working closely with The City of Edinburgh Council, plans will see the attraction expanding its site with the reinstatement of original doorways on the Royal Mile to create a prominent on street presence. As well as improved access and facilities, a huge amount of the investment will make way for even more of Edinburgh’s history to be revealed through visual effects and interactive features that complement and preserve the historical fabric of the site.

Internal artist's impression of welcome area

Councillor Frank Ross, Economy Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “Mary King’s Close is one of Edinburgh’s five star award winning attractions and this redevelopment will really help to boost the visitor experience. Reinvesting in our attractions is key to ensure the Capital’s Old Town continues to be a world class tourist destination. A share of the profits from The Real Mary King’s Close is reinvested into the Council and its services, and hopefully locals will also feel encouraged to rediscover the Close and the history of their town’s ancient streets. We are delighted to continue work with Continuum Attractions and offer the support of the Council’s internal architects and listed building experts.”

Chief Executive of Continuum Attractions FTS Juliana Delaney comments: “Working in close collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council, we are delighted to announce that The Real Mary King’s Close will evolve again for its 12th season. Our much loved underground tour will delve deeper into the history of the Closes, a Scottish cafe will be opened in the beautiful courtroom, and most importantly, we will be reinstating the two doors directly onto the Royal Mile – giving the thousands of visitors on the Royal Mile a high quality welcome into a new arrival area.”

The attraction plans to remain open throughout the whole expansion process and visitors will still be able to enjoy the full underground experience during this time. The first phase of the new investments will be in place and ready to be enjoyed by visitors from summer 2015.

The Real Mary King’s Close is part of Continuum Attractions who offer a host of cultural visitor attraction experiences across the UK, from the hallowed cobbles of Coronation Street to Portsmouth iconic Spinnaker Tower.

Dark Side of the Close This Halloween

It has been over a hundred years since sunlight last penetrated Mary King’s Close, off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, but this Halloween, the underground street will seem even darker than usual when The Real Mary Kings Close hosts late-night Dark Truth Tours from 26 – 31 October.

We already recommend that visits to the Real Mary King’s Close are unsuitable for children aged under five, as we tell stories of murder most horrid, plague and pestilence, but we have always kept a few details back, thinking that they would just too unsettling for some of our more sensitive visitors.  However, for the late-night tours on these five evenings, we’re going to reveal the whole truth – with details that will send a shiver down your spine!

Click here for more information – pre-booking strongly recommended!

First Ever ‘Close Fest’

For the first time ever, The Real Mary King’s Close, is to launch ‘Close Fest’, a week long programme of underground events that promise to be as unique as the attraction itself.

The festival that runs from 31st October until 9th November is to feature the best in local talent and will offer audiences the chance to experience one of Edinburgh’s best loved visitor attractions in a whole new light.

The Close Fest programme will include events ranging from murderous make-up, quirky comedy and spine tingling theatre to melancholy music and murder mystery, and marks the tenth anniversary since the warren of streets that make up The Real Mary King’s Close opened as a visitor attraction.

Craig Miller, General Manager comments; ‘We’ve worked hard to create a unique and exciting events programme that gives our loyal audiences a compelling reason to return to the Close and experience it in a completely fresh way. We regularly have people hiring the site for private events so we knew that beyond being a visitor attraction, the atmosphere, acoustics, darkness and intimacy of the site brings something really unique and memorable to an event, with that in mind, our very first Close Fest was born.’

‘Previous visitors might know us for our tours, but we invite them to come and experience our site through a whole new medium be it theatre, music or comedy.’

Full details are on the website with booking recommended by calling 0845 070 6244 or going online. A short synopsis of events is listed below.

The Dark Truth Tour: Thursday 31 October 10pm £17.50
The Close Fest programme will launch on the spookiest night of the year with The Dark Truth Tour, back by popular demand following its Edinburgh Festival Fringe sell-out debut.  Not for the faint hearted, this interactive tour will give a tongue in cheek account of Edinburgh’s murky past as it delves deeper than ever before into plague and pestilence and murder most horrid.

Murderous Make-Up: Friday 1 November 8.15pm £8
Those looking to further embrace the Halloween weekend can book onto
Murderous Make-Up for an hour long guided workshop allowing guests to create their own look from rupturing boils, bleeding blisters to ghoulish ghostly complexions. The workshop is a great pre-cursor to a spooky party or equally good as a stand-alone night out with the option to add on a tour of The Real Mary King’s Close.

Burke: Sunday 3 November 7.30pm and 9.15pm £12.50
Halloween weekend will culminate with Burke, The Play, a haunting psychological drama about Edinburgh’s notorious serial killer, William Burke.  Audiences will join William Burke in this underground setting, in his final hours before execution.   Full of twists and turns, this fascinating performance will challenge the common perception about who the main protagonist was in the deadly partnership between William Burke and William Hare.

Crow Boy – Book reading by author Philip Caveney:  Monday 4 November 6.30pm £5
Younger audiences will have the chance to travel in time with Crow Boy author Philip Caveney as he reveals the book’s connection with The Real Mary King’s Close.  As well as an author Q&A, guests will be the first to hear an expert from Philip’s brand new sequel to Crow Boy, Seventeen Coffins, due to launch Spring 2014.

Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra! Wednesday 6 November 7.30pm £5
Further into the week and fresh from a major award nomination for best cabaret show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Mr Twonkey, aka Paul Vickers, brings his acclaimed show to the Close for this last ever Edinburgh performance of the full show.  Bizarre, random, enchanting and nothing short of imaginative, a perfect mid week pick me up.

Shooting Stansfield Friday 8 November 10.30pm £8
A great precursor to the weekend and for one night only, Edinburgh’s underground streets that once echoed with the calls of market traders will be filled with the warm and emotive sound of Edinburgh based indie-folk four piece, Shooting Stansfield. Building on performances across Edinburgh and Glasgow, this gig presents an un-missable chance to see this highly applauded up and coming act in an intimate setting, catch them here before they really hit the big time.

Murder Mystery Evening Saturday 9 November 10.30pm £15
Rounding off Close Fest is the attraction’s first ever Murder Mystery Evening which will transport guests back to 1943 as they join the Lord Provost for a VIP party in honour of one of Edinburgh’s greatest heroes. As the party is abruptly interrupted by the air raid siren, guests will find themselves ushered into the underground shelter soon to become the scene of a most hideous crime, leaving them to question who would do such a thing and why?