The Dark Truth Tour returns with a twist…

It’s back with a twist for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014!

The Dark Truth Tour: Death & Decay will take place at The Real Mary King’s Close from 1-24 August Thu-Sun 10.30pm. Tickets are £17.50 and available now online and over the phone or in person at our ticket desk.

The Dark Truth Tour - Hare (1)


After rave reviews and sell out performances, The Dark Truth Tour returns for 2014, with a new spin looking into the darker tales of death and decay with a wicked comedy edge.

With our unique mix of fear and frivolity this interactive event will entertain you with sinister tales of plague and pestilence and murder most horrid witnessed by those who lived and worked in the closes. Expect the unexpected as our underground site is steeped in darkness during this late night special tour which delves deeper than ever before into Edinburgh’s murky past.

With the lights turned low and shadows cast wide, you will learn the whole and often dark truth behind the tales of death which haunt the hidden city. The question is, are you brave enough?

The Dark Truth Tour - Foul Clenger (1)

Thu-Sun, 10.30pm from the 1st-24th August, the warren of underground streets beneath the Royal Mile will come alive for this exclusive Fringe event, where you will encounter never previously seen haunting characters who once roamed Edinburgh’s closes.

Over the year’s guide research has uncovered even more about Edinburgh’s sinister past, much of which may be unsettling to our more sensitive visitors. The historical stories linked to the Close are weird, wonderful and quite disturbing. This special tour is aimed at audiences looking to experience that edgier, murkier side to Edinburgh’s history, details that will send a shiver down your spine but may often leave a smile on your face!

Suitable for ages 16+
Tour lasts 1 hour
Walking involved, uneven surfaces, steep inclines, no latecomers
Limited availability

Death and Decay Hits Edinburgh’s Fringe

After last year’s rave reviews, The Dark Truth Tour returns to The Real Mary King’s Close this August with a new spin dedicated to death and decay. The Dark Truth Tour Death and Decay image 1 (1)

From the 1st – 24th August Thursdays to Sundays at 10.30pm, the warren of underground streets beneath the Royal Mile will come alive for this exclusive late night Fringe event where visitors will witness some of the most dark and deadly deeds that took place in Edinburgh’s Old Town from the 16th to the 20th century.

From adulterous spirits that rose from their death to those who caused it, this interactive tour will take guests on a journey exposing the darker characters from Edinburgh’s murky past.

Expect to learn about the painful use of pillywinks on ‘witches’ and the horrifying hauntings of house 17, meeting along the way some of Edinburgh’s lesser known victims and more infamous villains. With a wicked comedy edge, characters including Half-Hangit Maggie and the notorious body snatchers Burke and Hare are brought to life in a show that weaves disturbing and dark with fun and frivolous.

The Dark Truth Tour Death and Decay image 5 (1)

Script writer Abbye Eva comments: ‘We have found that there is a real appetite for people wanting to get under the skin of Edinburgh’s history. With the Death and Decay tour we are able to bring to life more of the guide research that has been uncovered over the years and to tell the story of the fortunes and fate of those real people caught-up in the city’s underworld, much of which is only suitable for adults.’

As you delve deep into the City’s underbelly coming face to face with its shadowy souls, will you be deemed a witch or find yourself a healthy candidate for the anatomist’s table?

Tickets are available now online or by calling 0845 070 6244. Admission £17.50.
Tour lasts 1 hour. Suitable for ages 16+. Walking involved, uneven surfaces, steep inclines. No latecomers. Limited availability.

Continuum is Celebrating Excellence

Operators of The Real Mary King’s Close – Continuum Leading Attractions – celebrate a raft of success across five of its award-winning visitor attractions with The Real Mary King’s Close, York’s CHOCOLATE Story, Oxford Castle Unlocked, Spinnaker Tower and Kent Life all being awarded a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site.

Winners of the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed and reviewed on the global website, with only the top 10 percent receiving the prestigious award. TripAdvisor, attracts more than 260 million monthly visitors and has 60 million members who have posted over 150 million reviews and opinions.

Juliana Delaney, chief executive of Continuum Leading Attractions commented:
“We’re delighted to be honoured with such acclaim by the world’s most renowned travel review site. I’d like to thank our focused and talented teams across all our attractions who deliver such great visitor experience and customer service each and every day. It’s fantastic to be recognised for our ethos of providing our guests with world-class tourism and leisure experiences.”

Welcoming over one million visitors a year, Continuum Leading Attractions boasts a nationwide portfolio of popular and commercially successful visitor attractions. Each attraction is carefully crafted with the vision of telling the true stories of interesting or complex subjects in an engaging way to a broad popular market: stories of history, architecture, literature, landscape and culture in real places across the UK.

It’s Raining Underground!

Last week for one day only, visitors to Edinburgh’s historic underground street, Mary King’s Close, were able to experience rainfall for the first time in over 100 years.

The 16th century street which is now a unique visitor attraction, sits beneath the City Chambers and as Edinburgh was hit with a huge volume of rain in a short space of time, the quadrangle above became exceptionally wet.

With the sheer volume of rain, the water leaked down into the underground street below creating a rain like effect – the first occurrence of its kind since the street was finally closed off to the elements back in the early 20th century.

General Manager, Craig Miller said: ‘We took the opportunity to make the most of Edinburgh’s wet weather and the leak onto our Close by having some fun with our visitors. Posing for a photograph with an umbrella while it rains in an underground street is not a daily occurrence and was a unique experience for our visitors. Seeing it rain on the Close was available for one day only while repairs took place and our visitors really embraced it.’

The Real Mary King’s Close is an award winning five star visitors attraction that allows people to be guided back in time to experience what life would have been like for those who worked, lived and died between the 16th and the 19th century.

Fiona and Abbye in the 'rain' June2014Raining on the Close - June 2014

The Modern Apprentice Goes Underground at Top Edinburgh Attraction

Modern ApprenticeshipWhilst one of Edinburgh’s best loved visitor attractions lies concealed deep beneath the Royal Mile, there is nothing hidden about the attraction’s investment in their staff as Leanne Foxwell, Rob Atkinson and Jamie Balfour become the first staff members to complete a Modern Apprenticeship in Cultural & Heritage Venue Operations.

The apprenticeship, delivered by Rewards Training, lead to both Rob and Leanne being promoted upon completion. Apprentices are able to learn as they earn across all aspects of the business from event management to balancing the budgets, marking The Real Mary King’s Close’s continued investment in its employees to ensure a quality five star visitor experience.

Following the success of the first intake of apprentices, the attraction is now investing in a further six staff from all areas of the business including tour guiding, sales and retail, giving employees exposure to the intricacies of running a successful visitor attraction that will see them gain valuable qualifications whilst on the job.

Craig Miller, General Manager of The Real Mary King’s Close comments: ‘We are committed to developing our staff and the modern apprenticeship scheme is a great way for our employees to increase their skills at the same time as earning. As a result, staff feel more confident and benefit from skills that will enhance their career prospects and as a business we gain from a more productive workforce whose capabilities match our own business growth needs.’

Leanne Foxwell, Duty Manager and Modern Apprentice at The Real Mary King’s Close said: ‘The modern apprenticeship scheme has allowed me to gain invaluable work based experience that has really helped me to progress in my job and my career so far. Not only did the course content really expand my skills but my mentor, Louise at Rewards Training, was there every step of the way to ensure that we were supported throughout the process.’

Skills Development Scotland Chief Executive, Damien Yeates, said: ‘The investment in staff through Modern Apprentices at Mary King’s Close is a fantastic example of the exciting opportunities that work-based learning can offer. Leanne, Rob and Jamie have gained nationally recognised qualifications that will benefit them throughout their careers.’

The latest apprentices at The Real Mary King’s Close Scotland will be amongst the 25,000 employees per year who have access to Modern Apprenticeship place. As well as tourism, Modern Apprentices are employed across Scotland spanning more than 80 sectors including engineering, construction, health and social care, ICT, and food and drink.

The announcement comes during Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2014 which focused on the benefits apprenticeships bring to businesses, individuals and the Scottish economy.


Kilts on the Close

Mary-Kings-Close-Tartan-3The Real Mary King’s Close has launched its very own tartan to mark its tenth anniversary since the attraction first opened its doors as what is now one of Edinburgh’s top visitor attractions.

Made up of rich reds, bright white and shades of black and grey, the tartan which was created by Scottish textile experts Kinloch Anderson, represents the interwoven stories of those people who lived, worked and died in the warren of covered over streets that make up The Real Mary King’s Close.

Craig Miller, General Manager of The Real Mary King’s Close says: ‘The contemporary design was chosen in honour of those people from Edinburgh’s historical past who make up the unique fabric of our attraction and in celebration of The Real Mary King’s Close keeping their story alive for future generations of visitors to come.’

From 31 May, the tartan was incorporated into staff uniforms and is available to buy in the gift shop as well as directly from Kinloch Anderson. The new tartan forms part of major investments that have also seen new state of the art interactive element added to the tour, where visitors can now meet Mary King.

Deirdre Kinloch Anderson, senior director at Kinloch Anderson said: ‘As a long established, renowned Edinburgh Company it has been a real pleasure working with another local business which values quality and best service. The Real Mary King’s Close is one of Edinburgh’s best loved visitor attractions and an unforgettable experience. We wanted to create a tartan that staff are proud to wear, that visitors will want to buy and that pays tribute to the light and dark sides of the City’s rich history. We believe that The Real Mary King’s Close tartan links the City’s past heritage with its vibrant culture of the present day.’

The tartan forms part of The Real Mary King’s Close ten year anniversary celebrations where visitors during 2013 will be able to enjoy a programme of special events at the attraction including The Dark Truth Tour as part of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Close Fest which launches on Halloween and promises to show off the attraction as never before.



Family February!

Family Feb group on closeFamily February has arrived at The Real Mary King’s Close and to mark the occasion, we are introducing our first ever family ticket, offering a saving of seven pounds per family.

Launching in time for half term, the ticket which is based on admitting two adults and two children (aged 5-15 years), comes in direct response to the growing number of family visitors that we have welcomed over the last twelve months.

Despite often associated with being spooky, it is the attraction’s ability to bring to life the story of those people who once lived, worked and died in the underground closes between the 16th and 18th century, that continues to appeal to adults and younger visitors alike. The combination of the character tour guide and the unique history of the site, make it a fun yet informative way for families to learn about Edinburgh’s fascinating history.

Craig Miller, General Manager at The Real Mary King’s Close said: “Keeping the kids entertained during the school holidays can be really expensive business, particularly at this time of year after all the outgoings of Christmas. So we wanted to further extend our welcome to families by offering even greater value for money.”

The site has caught the imagination of many visitors over the years and has inspired books that span the whole family including Ian Rankin’s adult fiction Mortal Causes and Philip Caveney’s teenage fiction, Crow Boy, both of which are available to buy in the attraction’s shop.

The family ticket will be available any day from 10am until 5pm throughout the entire month of February and if successful, is likely to return for the October school break later in the year.
*Due to the nature of the site, this tour is not suitable for children under 5years. A child refers to those aged between 5-15years.

Family tickets cost £33.80 and advance booking can be made by calling 0845 070 6244 or in person at The Real Mary King’s Close.

Christmas Tree Trail Comes to the Close

Artist Becka Gould places one of her signature silver webs on The Real Mary King's Close Christmas Tree smlThe Real Mary King’s Close has teamed up with local artist Becka Gould to create a Christmas tree with a difference, incorporating the darker aspects of Edinburgh’s hidden history into its design.

Bereft of the usual tinsel and twinkles, the seven foot tree, from the Bethany Christian Trust, is part of the Capital’s first Christmas Tree Trail and features objects linked to Edinburgh’s murky past including rats, body bags and urine viles.

Visitors are invited to identify the 25 items that pay homage to former residents of the Close all of which will be interspersed with Becka’s signature designs of intricately hand woven silver-plated spiders’ webs.

Other influences to the tree’s design include The Real Mary King’s Close tartan which was launched earlier this year to mark the attraction’s tenth anniversary year and consists of bold reds, greys and blacks.

As unique as the attraction itself, the traditional angel at the top of the tree has been replaced by something altogether more alternative that aims to introduce an element of surprise whilst bringing the story of Mary King’s Close alive!

Marketing Edinburgh Chief Executive John Donnelly, said: ‘TEdinburgh Christmas logohis tree adds a wonderfully unique touch to Decorate Edinburgh’s Christmas Tree Trail, which is set to increase footfall at many well-loved locations all over the city this December as people set out with their maps to see 100 specially designed trees.

‘With a percentage of proceeds from the purchase of these trees being donated to local charities, this activity shows off the best of Edinburgh, from world-class attractions like The Real Mary King’s Close, to independent coffee shops – and offers a fun, free and unusual way for all the family to explore the city this winter.’

Craig Miller, General Manager comments: ‘Christmas back then was not the happy festive occasion of gift giving as we know it today and Becka has done a great job in creating a tree that honours the people of the Close who would have most likely been working on Christmas Day, saving their celebrations for Hogmanay instead.

‘We’re looking forward to people’s reaction to this rather unusual tree and hope it helps our visitors to learn even more about Edinburgh’s fascinating history.’

Becka Gould comments: ‘Coming in as the designer for The Real Mary King’s Close’s tree has been an exciting opportunity to do something completely different and to push the boundaries of my creative artistic abilities. Given my fascination for creepy crawlies, being paired up with an attraction that’s a little bit dark and probably has its fair share of spiders was a great fit.’ The Real Mary King's Close tartan inspired tinsel one of 25 tree decorations linked to the Close sml

‘After experiencing the tour and talking to the research team at the attraction, I was amazed at the phenomenal amount of information they had about the real people who once lived or worked in the closes and so it was important to me to make that connection with those people who once roamed the closes and to bring their story to life through the tree.’

The Real Mary King’s Close is one of 100 local businesses and attractions taking part in Decorate Edinburgh’s Christmas Tree Trail with the tree available to view in the shop until 6th January 2014.

Mary King’s Close…to Bursting Burger Battle!

The Real Mary King's Close characters get ready for the burger challenge sml

In under just eight minutes, The Real Mary King’s Close’s foul clenger polished off a whopping 10oz patty burger and all the trimmings created exclusively by Hard Rock Cafe for a burger challenge that raised £450 in aid of Action for Children. The maid takes on Marys Close To Bursting Burger sml

The sponsored challenge, which took place last week, marks The Real Mary King’s Close’s latest fundraising initiative for the children’s charity which so far this year has seen staff abseil down the Forth Rail Bridge and brave mud, fire, ice-water and 10,000 volts of electricity, bringing the total fundraising so far to £2,500.

The foul clenger, a 17th century poet and the daughter of Mary King herself were amongst eight costumed tour guides battling it out to be the first to pack away the 10oz patty complete with fries and salad with all proceeds helping to support some of the UK’s most vulnerable and neglected children and young people.

The patty named ‘Mary’s Close…To Bursting Burger’ was crafted after the chef took inspiration from his visit to Edinburgh’s top underground attraction and included black spices, 10oz of black pudding and heavy metal sauce to represent the darker side to Edinburgh’s history.

Still room for more - the foul clenger - winner of the burger challenge smlCraig Miller, General Manager comments: ‘Each year we are committed to supporting a charity and this year, staff chose Action for Children. We are really thrilled to have Hard Rock Cafe, a world famous brand getting behind our fundraising efforts, helping us to further raise the profile of this worthwhile cause.

‘This is probably the first time in history that a 17th century foul clenger and maid have had the chance to eat anything as lavish as a 10oz burger, so not surprisingly they stepped up to the challenge to take part in this battle of the burgers!’

Lesley Ross, Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh comments: ‘We were very excited to be working with The Real Mary King’s Close as they are a great company. Hard Rock as a brand is very involved with philanthropic causes so we were glad to be part of a fundraising activity for a worthwhile cause.’

Grant McFarlane, fundraising manager at Action for Children Scotland, said ‘We are really pleased that The Real Mary King’s Close has chosen Action for Children Scotland as its charity of the year. The team has taken on some very innovative and unusual challenges as they strive to raise vital funds for the country’s most vulnerable children, young people and families. We are really grateful for their dedication and are pleased they are having so much fun fundraising for us.’