Where: Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, Great Britain
Happenings: Theatre, comedy and the arts at their best
Remember to bring: Your own busking street act, and hat to collect cash
Where It’s At
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland in Britain and the most ‘English’ of all the Scottish cities. The Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival are an amazing cultural extravaganza of dance, theatre, art and music.
Occurring in August to September each year, the Edinburgh festival begun in 1947 with just 8 theatre groups as a post-war ignition to unite Europe again through the arts, and is now the world’s largest arts festival. Some of the 1947 performers included legends like the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra, Alec Guinness and Margot Fonteyn.
During the festival the population of Edinburgh soars as over a million people descend on the city to attend the festival. The festival has every sort of arts imaginable from the traditional music concerts and performances at the International Festival to the alternative art that they call the ‘fringe’. It’s become the place, even above London’s West End, to break new talent in the world of theatre and entertainment.
Beneath the Fringe
The Fringe has always been a radical affair, with many acts causing controversy, from nudity in the 1960’s and a play about bestiality in 1967, which regularly caused attempted bans by the Lord Chamberlain, the upholding vanguard of British censorship during this time. It’s also renowned for comedy – great names to have found fame at the fringe include French & Saunders, Ben Elton, Julian Clary and Rik Mayall.
The Fringe Sunday is a famous event that takes places on the High Street. Hundreds of street performers gather – actors, comics, acrobatics, sculptors, performance artists to ‘show off their wares’ to passing crowds and bookers. This ‘street busking’ only became legal in 1980. The quality of Fringe theatre is mixed, if you can fund it, you can do it in Edinburgh so if you’re talented and after a break – the Fringe is THE place to be seen and heard.
Other Things to See and Do
In August you can also see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo which takes place in Edinburgh Castle. Bagpipe groups and military units come from all over the Commonwealth to put on an incredible display. After a dazzling display of military musical prowess, the evening ends with the lone piper and fireworks.
The official site of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Edinburgh International Festival
Good information about all events for the Edinburgh International Festival
By Susi O’Neill
main image: Edinburgh Fringe Festival, image by Alastair Barnsley, Flickr creative commons