Concert hall steps back in time

St Cecilia’s Hall is set to transform into its 1940s ballroom setting as part of a three-day series of events this May.

Dancers in St Cecilia's Hall

The University building will once again become the Excelsior Ballroom for One Last Dance, an evening of dancing and live music from the University’s Jazz Orchestra.

One Last Dance at the Excelsior

Friday 16 May 2014, 12.00am

Sunday 18 May 2014, 12.00am

St Cecilia's Hall, Niddry Street, Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1NQ

Find St Cecilia's Hall on Campus maps

Book tickets for the series of events

Lively events

The weekend extravaganza will also include a variety of creative workshops exploring fashion at the time, the era’s scientific and cultural developments and 1940s-inspired entertainment.

This is part of Festival of Museums, a festival created and co-ordinated by Museums Galleries Scotland, which will see more than 90 events take place in museums across Scotland.


A preview of what to expect from the weekend.

Sharing memories

Event organisers are also inviting anyone who remembers dancing at the Excelsior to share their memories at a drop-in session on 17 April from 10am-2pm.

Their accounts will be recorded to ensure this aspect of the building’s history is not lost.

Stories and pictures gathered from this memory project may also be used for an exhibition which will be on show throughout the weekend.

1940s culture explored

Other events include a 1940s jewellery making class, a make do and mend dress-making workshop, a vintage hair and make-up session and a swing dance class from the University of Edinburgh swing society.

Edinburgh’s medical history, the growth of popular printing and the birth of the electric guitar will also be explored in talks and there will also be a family tea party with wartime children’s games and toy making sessions.

St Cecilia’s Hall has taken many forms over the past 250 years, and we are incredibly excited to discover and share this part of its story. The building is due to close for redevelopment this summer, so these events offer people the chance to visit St Cecilia’s Hall and learn a little about the history of that time, while having a lot of fun.

Sarah DetersAudience Development Assistant, Special Collections

Historic hall

St Cecilia's Hall is the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland.

Build in 1786, it is home to one of the most important historic musical instrument collections anywhere in the world.

The Hall has recently been awarded £823,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The award is a key part of the University’s £6.5 million vision to transform the venue into a centre for the study, display and enjoyment of instruments which date back to the sixteenth century.

Festival of Museums

Created and coordinated by Museums Galleries Scotland, Festival of Museums encourages visitors to discover something exciting, entertaining and surprising day or night at Scotland’s museums and galleries.

The Festival seeks to broaden the appeal of museums and galleries and encourages visitors of all ages to learn about, and get involved with their local area’s museums and history.

Photograph by Laurence Winram Photography

Related Links

One Last Dance - event information

Musical Instrument Museums Edinburgh

Festival of Museums

Special Collections at the University