Edinburgh's first Deaf Festival arrives with cabaret, comedy and rave

The first celebration of deaf culture to take place in Edinburgh during the festival season has kicked off.

It is a week-long event celebrating deaf culture, language and heritage with an amazing mix of shows – and even a deaf rave.

The Edinburgh Deaf Festival has kicked off in the capital and those behind it say they hope it will be the first of many.

This is deaf actor Nadia Nadarajah’s eighth Fringe. But it’s the first that she’s truly felt a part of.

“Seven years ago I felt something was missing,” she said.

“But for the Edinburgh Deaf Festival it’s so exciting because this is my world. I am so proud, I am showing off about this festival. We are here, we are the same as you, we are no longer hiding.” 

Nadia’s cabaret is one of many shows taking place this week for the Edinburgh Deaf Festival, which features everything from comedy and theatre to children’s shows and magic.

But the highlight of the week-long event is a deaf rave, with laser lights, deaf DJs and British Sign Language performers.

“I always expected that deaf people would be here,” added Nadia.

“But this time, at the very first show, there were 50 deaf people and 50 hearing people. It was 50/50! That was so exciting. They were laughing at the same time.”

As well as putting on their own programme of events, festival organisers Deaf Action are also providing support and interpreters across the wider Fringe network.

“We have had lots of requests for interpreters, so much more than we expected. It’s very, very exciting,” said Philip Gerrard, Deaf Action’s CEO.

“I’m amazed that some deaf people have come along [and said] ‘I want to see a specific show on a date – can we get an interpreter?’.

“We’ve worked with the show, we’ve worked with the Fringe festival to enable it to happen so that that deaf person experiences a very positive thing going on.”

The organisers hope the impact of the festival will last far beyond the end of August.

The Edinburgh Deaf Festival runs until Friday, August 19.

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