Dementia Friendly Work

Capital Theatres is proud to be dementia friendly. Find out more about the background to our dementia friendly work, plus what’s on offer for people living with dementia, their family and friends.

Dementia-friendly performances

We are committed to creating a warm, welcoming and adapted environment that enables people to flourish, enjoy the arts and stay connected with the community around them.

Want to be kept up-to-date about all of our dementia friendly projects? Want to know more about our partners, attenders and staff? You can now download our DementiArts, our dementia friendly newsletter

Inclusive performances

Scottish Ballet The Snow Queen, Inclusive performance

The Snow Queen, Thursday 19 December, Festival Theatre, 2.30pm

Scottish Ballet’s 50th year will come to a spectacular close with the world premiere of The Snow Queen. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s much-loved tale – which was also the basis for Frozen – this glittering new production will be set to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.

Choreographed by Christopher Hampson and designed by the award-winning Lez Brotherston, this story of love and friendship is sure to delight the whole family.

To make you feel welcome, relaxed and well-supported, we’ll have lots of trained staff on hand to help with any access needs, anyone can feel free to make noise and move around the auditorium, we’ll keep the lights on, but dimmed to reduce anxiety, and we’ll provide break  out spaces with a live stream of the show so that if people  feel the need to leave the auditorium they won’t miss the action.

Please note that this is an inclusive performance designed for people with a range of needs who benefit from a relaxed environment.

Tea and ‘Jam'

FestivalTeaJam 6.jpg

Join our celebration of music making on the last Friday of the month.  Bring along your favourite instrument whether it’s your flute, guitar, drum sticks or kazoo, we want to make music with you. Professional musician, Gus Harrower, will be with us to kick off the jam session but then it’s very much over to you! We provide the refreshments, you create the music and together we enjoy friendship, a good sing-a-long and a dance or two!

Tickets cost £2 per person and carer comes along free. Limited car parking can be booked by calling Stage Door on 0131 662 1112.

Find more information about dates and how to book your space at one of our Tea and 'Jam' sessions

Tea parties with live music

Every month, we open up the Lafayette Bar at the Festival Theatre for a delightfully fun afternoon with tea, cake and live music. There is a different theme each time and entertainment by professional musicians to local community dance schools. It’s a great chance for people to relax and enjoy their time together and whilst a sing along isn’t compulsory it’s certainly invited! Our warm and friendly staff look forward to welcoming you.


Monday 17 February: Just after St. Valentine’s Day but we’re still full of the love here. Join our very own Capital Theatres House Band with their energetic style, and let’s sing and dance the afternoon away.

Monday 16 March: No St. Patrick’s Day celebration would be complete without Danny Boy, and a host of other Irish favourites, performed by Laura McFall and Kristine Donnan, the voice and piano duo Voice and Verse from Northern Ireland.

Tickets cost £2 per person and a carer comes along free. Limited car parking can be booked by calling Stage Door on 0131 662 1112.

You can book online, in person or by calling Box Office on 0131 529 6000. Find more information about booking the dementia friendly Tea Party online.

Drop-in Cafes

The drop-in café is an informal monthly gathering for anyone affected by dementia. Join us for tea, cake and a chat. We are also a Playlists for Life help point, so pop in and we can spend time with you creating ‘The Soundtrack to your Life’ if you like!

Wednesday 29 January: Come along to find out more about Playlists For Life and to start your own musical memories journey.

Wednesday 26 February: Lots of photographs of Edinburgh – let’s see who knows their stuff and is really from The Burgh!

Wednesday 25 March: Are you bilingual? Know another language? Come and share some fun phrases with us….no swear words though!

From time to time, we also welcome visitors from other organisations who chat about their activities and ways they support people living with dementia, their families and supporters to live well.

The Festival Theatre Drop-In Café runs once a month. Find out specific dates and what organisations are coming along on our What's On section.

Playlist for Life

Capital Focus

Our first focus group of 2019 was a great success with 14 new members of the wider community joining us.
Are you living with or otherwise affected by dementia? We are keen to hear from more people living with dementia to help shape our dementia friendly community. You are very welcome to register interest to join our focus groups on Friday 21 February at 2-3.30pm. Alternatively, if getting to us isn’t easy or you are part of a larger community group, we can bring Capital Focus to you!

Tea, coffee and biscuits provided, travel costs can be reimbursed.

The Satellites Performance Company

Saturday 25 January to Sat 14 March. Every Saturday 11am-1.30pm (with a Social Cafe happening from 11am until 11.30am), Festival Theatre, Empire Rooms

The Satellites is a performance company for people living with dementia, their loved ones and their carers. Participants are invited to collaborate with Tricky Hat artists who use performance, film and music to explore people’s experiences, hopes and dreams.

There will be an Information session on Saturday 25 January 11am - 12.30pm (tea and coffee will be provided). At the end of the course, there will be an Informal sharing for family and friends on Saturday 14 March 1pm. 

This workshop course is free, but booking is essential. You can find more information and book online in the Show Page.

Rambert 'Dance for Dementia' Workshop 

Thursday 20 February, 1pm - 3pm (with a Social Café from 1pm until 1.30p), The Studio

Join one of Rambert’s expert company animateurs for a specialised dance session to energise people in the early stages of dementia. Experience a sense of well-being and find new ways to express yourself through movement. Companions, friends, family members and carers also welcome.

Please wear loose and comfortable clothing and soft-soled shoes.

This workshop is free, but booking is essential. You can find more information and book online in the Show Page.

Listening with Your Eyes Workshop

Friday 14 February, 10.30am - 12.30pm, The Studio

Listening with your Eyes, delivered by Vamos Theatre, helps develop skills of empathy, insight, listening and trust-building, particularly in the arena of Health and Care. The workshop offers an opportunity for participants to explore the powerful effect of non-verbal techniques, and their benefit in helping us make real and honest connections – particularly with those with lived experience of dementia.

This workshop has proved invaluable to a wide range of professions for whom connection with the public is central. It will particularly appeal to care home staff, GPs, Community link workers, nurses, police, family support workers, bereavement counsellors, occupational therapists, teachers and transport drivers.

Tickets for the workshop are £2. You can find more information and book online in the Show Page.

Our Time Takeover

Saturday 28 March, 11am - 3pm, Festival Theatre

We are joining forces with our participants who have lived experience of dementia to host our first takeover day. The day could be filled with activities, workshops, pop-up performances, tours but that’s all up to you! If you are interested in being part of the Our Time planning group, then please get in touch.

There will be a Planning Day on Wednesday 22 January 11-12.30pm. Tea/coffee and biscuits provided and travel costs can be reimbursed.

Tickets are free with £1.50 booking fee. You can find more information and book online in the Show Page.

The history of our Dementia Friendly work

In 2015, staff at the Festival and King’s Theatres noticed that people who had been avid friends of the theatres over many years had stopped attending performances and events. When we contacted them to say hello, we discovered a dementia diagnosis behind this change. Our friends no longer felt confident to visit us. At this point, we asked “what can we do as an organisation to enable people living with dementia to continue seeing performances, to remain an active and valued part of the theatre community?”

That same year, we applied for a three-year grant from the Life Changes Trust with the aim of creating and nurturing a dementia friendly community across our venues. Capital Theatres was successful and was awarded £321,000 over a three year period. This work has flourished, with an extensive dementia friendly buildings audit of the Festival Theatre and The Studio; dementia friends awareness sessions for all staff; creative artists training, and an extensive programme of dementia friendly performances and events in our venues and community settings. The project has worked with multiple stakeholders and partners to be able to deliver this vitally important work for people living with dementia. Over the course of the three years, we have programmed over 380 events and performances with over 7,830 participations.

We’re delighted that the Life Changes Trust has awarded continuation funding for our dementia friendly community from 2018-20. As we embark on the next chapter of this work, the core strands of our programme are:

  1. Opportunities for people living with dementia to access the performing arts as audience members;
  2. Opportunities for people living with dementia to participate in the performing arts;
  3. Training and advocacy, plus developing our volunteer programme & focus group.

We are also striving to promote positive engagement in our activities among diverse groups of people, including people who may not have a track record of engaging with culture and/or may face additional barriers to engaging with culture.

There are numerous resources around the city for those living with dementia and their families. For example, you can now check the Edinburgh Dementia Friendly Map to find out venues and cafes that establish themselves for those with dementia.