Setting up within the whitewashed walls of Greyfriars Church, Nitekirk is a gentle affair. This admirable project provides calm, care and community to those wayfarers wearied by the trials of the fringe through a number of interactive meditation stations. Whilst this is by no means a must-visit, around which to plan an evening, a quick visit leaves one in a much more wholesome frame of mind, and helps to enrich a wider festival experience.
Funded by a number of local churches, Nitekirk is modelled after a similar project successfully established in Copenhagen. With the theme of a ‘time for stillness’, Nitekirk includes such features as a creativity table, bedecked with a plethora of arts and crafts materials; long, cruciform sandpits in which to place a tealight and trace a pattern; and small, serene water features with which to sit and think. Forming the centrepiece of this space is a circle strewn in silk, within which lies a pool of cool water ringed by plush cushions and bronze platters bearing tiny, closed-up paper flowers, which blossom when inserted into the central bowl. The repeated motif of circles throughout – in the rings of seats, in the circuitous sequence of activity stations – is ideal for generating a sense of quiet community. The church interior, lit by low lighting and candles peppered across the floor, automatically eases one into a state of relaxation.
In the atrium upon exiting, the handful of Presbyterian ministers by which the Nitekirk is run offer visitors a cup of tea and a friendly chat and truly succeed in fostering a sense of care. Whilst perhaps a rather dramatic counterpoint to the peace of the event, the fact that Greyfriars lies atop a small knoll allows for a wonderful view of the fireworks as the Tattoo comes to a climax, made all the better by clasping a cuppa in hand.
Nitekirk is not a place to visit if you’re looking for laughs and japes, or expect to be entertained. Nevertheless, it offers a worthy and potentially valuable place of retreat to regenerate amid the carnage of the Fringe and I’d definitely recommend a visit in future.