A Leith Festival Hat


Posted by in June's Magazine

We all have different hats. Depending on what we’re doing, we wear different metaphorical hats. This year I have been alternating between wearing my Personal Training hat (a woolly beanie) and Leith Festival Coordinator hat (a clown type hat, perhaps with bells on). I love both of my hats, even though they are quite different. 

Wearing two hats this year has taught me a lot about balance, time management and the great Leith motto, to persevere. I love Leith Festival – the people, the tradition, the warmth… and of course Pageant and Gala day! Griffen Fitness first started running events as part of the Leith Festival programme around 8 years ago. 

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Doyen of Leith Festival Mary Moriarty with Tracy and, of course, Coco

Deep down I had always wanted to get more involved, and you can’t get much more involved than being Festival Coordinator. After two years on the Leith Festival Board, I feel very lucky to now have the Coordinator role, but I assure you it’s as tough as any endurance event I’ve taken part in. When my printer broke down at a crucial programme proofing stage, it reminded me of having a mechanical breakdown halfway through the 87 mile Etape Caledonia cycle race last year. Breathe deeply, fix it, smile and carry on. Aim for the long game and daily frustrations are simply part of the overall process.

The Leith Festival crew are like a family – the three wise ladies Mary, Rita, and May. I joke I’m Mary’s apprentice as she teaches me the mysterious workings of Gala day (8 June on Leith Links, be there). Chairman Nick and Vice Chair Phil are cheery uncles, Mo; my Spanish aunty who I see at gigs sometimes. Whilst my biological family is on the other side of the world, my close comrades are here, within easy walking distance. 

Not forgetting proxy sista Lotte, who did such an amazing job as Coordinator last year, showed me the nuts and bolts of running such a large project. And it is large. This year we have 66 events, 50 of them free. It’s personally important that as many events as possible are free or under a tenner, as some event organisers seem to forget that not everyone has bulging wallets for their leisure time.

Whilst my biological family is on the other side of the world, my Leith Festival comrades are here, within easy walking distance.

Every year Leith Festival is different, it’s the sum of its parts and reflects what’s happening in the community. This year we’re very pleased to have LeithLate curating the main stage at Gala day, with a selection of cutting edge performers to entertain you. The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home will be running the Official Leith Dog Show at 2.30pm on Gala day, you can enter your furry friend in the following categories (or should that be dogagories): Prettiest girl, Handsomest boy, Best OAP, Most like owner, Best trick and Waggiest tail. 

Judges are local MP Deidre Brock (also regular Leither contributor), Mock Lord Provost Sandy Campbell (his column can also be found in this fine publication) and Rita Crombie (Board member and of Crombie’s sausages, a favourite with my dog Coco).

The Pageant kicks off Gala day; this was the event that started the festival back in 1907. This year the theme is ‘Leith’s Maritime Heritage: Across the Seas’ – expect pirates, marine creatures, lots of lively music and some oversized puppets. The procession will be lead by folk from our LGBT+ community and energetic samba drummers of Pulse of the Place. It will be an environmentally friendly spectacle. Leith Festival is no longer allowed to have motorised floats, which I think is a good thing as there’s enough pollution on the Walk. We are sensitive to the climate emergency.

On Monday 10 June I’ll be running the annual Griffen Fitness workshop, this year run in conjunction with Edinburgh Festival of Cycling (as a committed cyclist I was a founding Director of EdFoC in 2013) entitled ‘Fitness Hacks for Cyclists’. If you’re a cyclist wanting to keep fit in between bike rides this is the workshop for you.

Exactly halfway through the Festival, Wednesday 12 June, is the inaugural Humpday Gig at my spiritual home Leith Depot. Come and find out who the mysteriously named Lizards of Alba are, as they play their debut gig. Joining them are deep vibes from ‘Erb & Ting and the notorious Victor Pope Band. Elsewhere we have macramé workshops, a community Ceilidh and a visit to the SS Explorer. You can learn about Leith’s sporting history at Trinity House, go to a teddy bears’ picnic or take in one of the many exhibitions.

With my Personal Training hat, I am a loner, a maverick, helping people exercise on their own terms from my wee fitness studio on Balfour Street. With my festival hat on, I’m part of a greater whole, this family I call Leith. Join us.

Info: You can pick up a printed Leith Festival programme from any good bar or cafe in EH6/EH7 from mid-May or check out leithfestival.com.
or tickets to ‘Fitness Hacks for Cyclists’ send a message me at griffenfitness.com.

Twitter: @tracygriffen

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