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Assembly Rooms


A fine classical building and a landmark in George Street, within the UNESCO 'New Town' World Heritage Site. Designed by John and David Henderson, the Assembly Rooms was built in the 1780s as a place of entertainment for the wealthy residents of New Town. It opened in 1787 with the Caledonian Hunt Ball, and has been used since for many royal banquets and events. Originally constructed in polished ashlar sandstone in a 2-storey 7-bay symmetrical neo-classical style, it was soon decided that a grander entrance was required, so a projecting pedimented Roman Doric portico was added in 1818, supported by a channelled 3-bay arcade. The Edinburgh Music Festival was first held in the Ballroom in 1815. The Music Hall was added at the rear of the building in 1843, designed by William Burn and David Bryce. Various additions and alterations have been made over time. The final major improvements to the original design occurred in 1907 when new side wings were added to the structure. The Assembly Rooms underwent a major restoration in 2011. The building was returned to its blueprint with a new reception and entrance hall with retail spaces and a restaurant on the ground floor, and four public rooms above. The conversion of the Supper Room and Edinburgh Room to a new restaurant included the reduction of the floor level of the Edinburgh Room to suit Rose Street levels, enlivening of the previously blank elevation on Rose Street with the insertion of new doors and windows. Internal renovations included an acoustic floor to stop sound transmission between the Music Hall and the restaurant below, a new bar and accessible toilets. Conservation work included repairs to ornamental plasterwork and ornate joinery, decoration and the renewal of gold leaf, and the restoration and cleaning of half a million crystals in the 25 chandeliers.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1787 : As 'a place of entertainment'
Current state
Current use
Events venue (music, conferencing and live events)
54 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2LR, Scotland
Further details
Other names
  • 1787 Use: As 'a place of entertainment'
  • 1787 Design/Construction: Assembly Rooms built, opening with the Caledonian Hunt Ball
    John Henderson
    - Architect
  • 1796 Alteration: Additions within the Ballroom
    J Baxter
    - Interior design
  • 1798 Alteration: Redecoration
  • 1805 Alteration: Assembly Rooms redecorated 
  • 1818 Alteration: Portico added
    William Burn
    - Architect
  • 1833 Alteration: Gaslights fitted
  • 1843 Alteration: The Music Hall added to rear of the building
    William Burn & David Bryce
    - Architect
  • 1865 Alteration: Ballroom extended into the portico
    - Architect
  • 1896 Alteration: Electric lighting introduced
  • 1907 Alteration: Wings and corresponding East and West Drawing Rooms added, plus Supper Room and other alterations
    R Rowand Anderson & A J Balfour Paul
    - Architect
  • 1922 Alteration: Extensive alterations to the Music Hall
  • 1945 Owner/Management: Edinburgh Corporation (now City of Edinburgh Council), owner
  • 1950 Alteration: Various alterations, including restoration of Ballroom, West Drawing room and entrance foyer
    A G Forgie
    - Architect
  • 2009 Alteration: Major renovation
    LDN Architects
    - Architect
  • 2012 - 2013 Owner/Management: Salt'n'Sauce Promotions, lessee
  • 2016 Owner/Management: Assembly and the Riverside Trust, lessee 
  • Capacity
    Music Hall (theatre style in 2017)
  • Capacity
    Ballroom (theatre style in 2017)
  • Listing
Stage type
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Orchestra pit: -