Requesting the pleasure of your company this week…

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Continuing our winter promotion this week is Mr Robert Fergusson, a young poet who was said to be the inspiration to Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns.  He frequented the Royal Exchange Coffee House on Craigs Close and was said to be a member of the infamous ‘Cape Club’.

Hear what he has to say by viewing our Facebook page where you’ll also get access to Mr Fergusson’s unique discount code.

Keep the Residents of the Close Company…

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A new year and we have a very special offer for our Facebook friends.

Every week for the next five weeks, each of our tour guide characters will be offering you a very special discount available exclusively via our Facebook page.

This week, it’s the turn of Stephen Boyd, a Merchant of high standing and well respected member of the community.  See what he has to say and why not visit the Close this winter…

Romance on the Close

Yesterday, visitors witnessed what could well be the first marriage proposal at The Real Mary King’s Close in over 400 years as visitor, Martin Spencer, chose the unique historic attraction to propose to his girlfriend Kim Scott.Engagement 1

The couple who are both part of the Derbyshire Army Cadet Force met through work five years ago.  Throughout their travels, Kim has always been fascinated with caves and underground venues, so when Martin made the decision to propose, he found the perfect setting in The Real Mary King’s Close.

The proposal took place after the couple enjoyed a tour of the hidden city and was witnessed by fellow tour goers and The Close’s Robert Fergusson an 18th century poet who was their tour guide for the day.

General Manager, Craig Miller commented, “At The Close we are all about creating a great day out with lasting memories for our visitors, so for our venue to be at the centre of such a huge event in one couple’s lives is quite an honour and will certainly be a day to remember for all of those who were on today’s tour.”
Many congratulations from all at The Real Mary King’s Close to the happy couple!

 

Are you brave enough? Dark tours of The Real Mary King’s Close

Ghost PhotoEdinburgh’s premier underground attraction, The Real Mary King’s Close, has got a reputation for being a rather haunting place at the best of times, but this June, the costumed guides will be asking late-night visitors if they are brave enough to venture into the hidden street with the lights turned off.
Launching on 30 June – coinciding with the premier of the Disney Pixar movie ‘Brave’ as part of the Edinburgh Film Festival – the ‘Brave Enough?’ tour will take place at 10.00pm each Saturday throughout July.  Although the content of the tour will remain much the same as the normal visitor experience, there will be one fundamental difference; the lights which illuminate the underground attraction will be turned off, with only flickering candles to guide the way.

“The Real Mary King’s Close is a fantastically atmospheric place at the best of times, and being below ground, we rely on electric lighting even during the day so that visitors can see the buildings down there.  For our ‘Brave Enough?’ tours, we’ll be turning off the lights so that the only light down there will be the small lanterns and torches carried by the guide,” says general manager, Nigel Hosier.  “This isn’t a gimmicky ghost tour – there won’t be actors hiding round corners to jump out – and we’re not even going to beef up the many spooky stories linked to the site, but I know from personal experience how much your imagination can kick into overdrive when you are down there in very low-light conditions – it can be very unsettling!”

The Real Mary King’s Close takes visitors into some of the hidden streets that are buried beneath modern Edinburgh.  Largely unchanged since the 17th century, these streets tell a unique story of Edinburgh’s past – a time capsule of life as it used to be in the Old Town, just steps away from the bustling Royal Mile.  Visitors are given a tour of the street accompanied by one of five costumed guides, each with their own unique perspective on life in Mary King’s Close, from the poet and chamber maid to the foul clenger – the man charged with cleaning houses affected by the plague.

The tours run each Saturday evening at 10.00pm in July and must be booked in advance by the previous Friday.  Admission is £15 for adults, £13.50 for concessions, but is unsuitable for under 16s. All tickets include a torch to get you through the experience! For more information, or to prebook tickets, please call 0845 070 6244

Edinburgh is the UK’s second favourite destination

Edinburgh has been named Britain’s second favourite travel destination in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice 2012 Awards.  It came second after London in the UK and 13th in Europe.  The results are based on the reviews of millions of visitors to 440 worldwide destinations.

The site said: “While dramatic windswept hills make Edinburgh a site to behold, its rich history makes it a city to remember.”

We are proud to be based in such a beautiful and exciting City!

The Real Mary King’s Close makes Lonely Planet #1

The Real Mary King’s Close is the #1 thing to do in Edinburgh and the #1 thing to do in Scotland according to lonelyplanet.com.

The Real Mary Kings Close has made it to the top spot in the lonelyplanet.com guides to the best ‘things to do in Edinburgh’ and ‘things to do in Scotland’, which both comprise sights, tours, activities, entertainment and restaurants.  A view of The Real Mary King's Close 1

Nigel Hosier, general manager of The Real Mary King’s Close attraction, said: “We are really excited to be rated #1 thing to do in Edinburgh and #1 thing to do in Scotland by Lonely Planet which is such a well respected publication, read by travellers all over the world.

“There are so many great things to do in Edinburgh and Scotland, so to have been rated as #1 over such strong competition is just fantastic!”

Other ‘things to do in Scotland’ include the Nessie watching hotspot Urquhart Castle in Loch Ness and exclusive Waterfront Restaurant in Oban which both made it into the top ten.  To find out who else made the list visit

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/scotland/things-to-do

Historic Edinburgh Festival City Sign Discovered in Underground Attraction

We have recently discovered an historic Edinburgh City signpost from circa the 1930s, in the depths of our underground vaults. The decorative sign proclaims: “Edinburgh the Festival City” and depicts the famous Coat of Arms of the City of Edinburgh Council.

festival city sign croppedNigel Hosier, our general manager, recently discovered the remarkable piece whilst archiving some of the material used within our tours which is routinely updated to keep them fresh.

Evidence suggests that the magnificent signpost was placed on the outskirts of Edinburgh to welcome visitors to the world’s leading festival city, but, Nigel comments: “The truth is, we don’t really know very much about it. Some tentative enquiries have been made to the City Council as the vaults were once used by them, but to no avail.”

He adds: “The sign wonderfully illustrates how The Real Mary King’s Close is full of yet undiscovered mysteries about the history of this fantastic city and its people, and how, even at the beginning of the 20th century, before the start of the legendary Edinburgh Festival, its inhabitants had every reason to be proud of what it could offer visitors, just as it does today. We would love anyone who knows anything about the sign to come forward and tell us more.”

If anyone thinks they can enlighten us or have any information about the sign, please contact Nigel Hosier on 0845 070 6244 or emailnhosier@realmarykingsclose.com

Previously… Scotland’s History Festival

View of close webEdinburgh’s famous underground attraction, The Real May King’s Close, is giving visitors an insight into its fascinating architectural history, plus the rare chance to enjoy one of Scotland’s oldest art forms, as part of the first ever Previously… Scotland’s History Festival.

The Real Mary King’s Close is a warren of hidden passages and closes which were covered in 1753 with the building of the Royal Exchange, which is now the City Chambers.  The lower floors of the buildings on these closes still remain today, used as foundations for the City Chambers and preserved to allow an insight into what life was like 500 years ago.

Guided by an onsite expert, the brand new Architectural History Tours will explore how these buildings have changed through the years.  Tours depart at 6.30pm and 8pm on Monday 21 and Sunday 27 November.

Nigel Hosier, general manager of The Real Mary King’s Close attraction, commented:  “It’s fantastic to be involved in this exciting new festival that has been created to bring our history out into the streets.  Visitors often express an interest in the buildings within The Real Mary King’s Close, so we decided to host two evenings of hidden architectural history as part of the festival.

“We will also be opening up the Close for a recreation of one of Scotland’s oldest art forms on Thursday 24 November.  The Flyting is perhaps one of the greatest showcases of the Scots language and it’s been hundreds of years since audiences have been able to enjoy an event like this.”

The Flyting is an insulting yet artistic face-off between two poets.  Deep within the Close, two of Scotland’s most quick witted comedians and actors, Stuart Murphy and Garry Dobson, will bring The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy of 1504, which was originally performed in front of King James IV, into the 21stcentury in a battle of wit, learning and foul language.

Previously… Scotland’s History Festival will host 200 events throughout Edinburgh between 17 and 30 November, bringing the history made by Scotland’s people closer to Scotland’s people.

To book tickets for the special events at The Real Mary Kings Close please call 0845 070 6244, places are limited so pre-booking is essential.

To find out more about Previously… Scotland’s History Festival please visit www.historyfest.co.uk.

Visit Christmas Past at The Real Mary King’s Close

Christmas on the CloseIt’s hard to imagine Edinburgh without its Christmas lights and festive markets at this time of year, but until quite recently Christmas was just an ordinary working day for Scots – Hogmanay quickly became the time to celebrate!

Edinburgh’s famous underground attraction, The Real Mary King’s Close, is revealing some of the city’s hidden history surrounding Christmas and New Year in new extended festive tours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings throughout December.

Edinburgh is known as the world’s original New Year Party, hosting one of the biggest street party celebrations in the world with over 80,000 revellers, but the popularity of Hogmanay stems largely from the outlawing of Christmas in 1575.  People were banned from celebrating Christmas, so many traditions were moved to the New Year.   Modest New Year celebrations soon became an explosive street festival and people were so enthusiastic about welcoming in the New Year that the events continued into 2 January, which is the reason this day is still a holiday in Edinburgh today.

Nigel Hosier, general manager of The Real Mary King’s Close attraction, commented: “It’s hard to believe that Christmas only became a national holiday in Scotland in 1958, but it explains why Hogmanay is so important in Edinburgh.  Our new tours give visitors a taste of how Hogmanay and the ‘Daft Days’ of old were celebrated on the Close when Christmas was virtually banned in Scotland for 400 years!  Mulled wine and mince pies served during the tour will help make sure we all celebrate this year.”

 

Christmas Tours Dates & Times

Friday 2nd December – Tour @ 7pm/ 7.40pm/8.20pm/9pm
Saturday 3rd December -Tour @ 7pm/ 7.40pm/8.20pm/9pm
Sunday 4th December – Tour @ 3pm/3.40pm/4.20pm/5pm

Friday 9th December – Tour @ 7pm/ 7.40pm/8.20pm/9pm
Saturday 10th December -Tour @ 7pm/ 7.40pm/8.20pm/9pm
Sunday 11th December – Tour @ 3pm/3.40pm/4.20pm/5pm

Friday 16th December – Tour @7pm/ 7.40pm/8.20pm/9pm
Saturday 17th December -Tour @7pm/ 7.40pm/8.20pm/9pm
Sunday 18th December  – Tour @ 3pm/3.40pm/4.20pm/5pm

 

To find out more call 0845 070 6244 or book online now