Edinburgh Festival – World’s Largest Arts And Cultural Festival
As with every year the festival that takes over Edinburgh for a month during the summer, is looking to one of the best yet. It’s always said that each year, the Edinburgh Festival is looking to be more interesting and have many more names behind the performances, but it is true that the festival offers something that no other festivals around the world can offer.
Set in the superb surroundings of the historic city of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh festival draws in the cream of talent from comedy, music, film, theatre, dance… basically any type of art or entertainment you can think of! Even the street performers travel from miles around to display to a worldwide audience. Up and down the city’s famous Royal Mile the crowds gather to watch free concerts, bands and performers show their talents. Some of these shows are just tasters for the bigger performances to come later. Many other performers will take to the streets just to show off their small talents – maybe not enough to put on a show but definitely a great spectacle to see! Other craft producers and artists will set up shop for a month in Edinburgh to sell their goods to the international tourists on the lookout for a great bargain.
Tourists flock from all over the world and arrange their holidays months in advance – usually just after they visited the Edinburgh festival the previous year.
About Edinburgh Festival
The Edinburgh Festival does not officially refer to a particular single festival event. Rather, it is a group or series of simultaneous cultural and arts festivals that take place every month of August in Edinburgh, Scotland. The festivals included are organized by several formally unrelated clubs or associations.
That said, the Edinburgh Festival is known to be the world’s largest arts and cultural festival, which started in the year 1947, the time when the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) was founded. That same year, other theatrical companies organized their own events and joined the festivities. Since then, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and many other festivals have been established in this particular Scottish capital city.
Some of the Edinburgh festivals held every August of the year include the following:
The Edinburgh International Festival
It is a performing arts festival in Edinburgh City, Scotland, which starts around mid-August and lasts for more than three weeks.
The General Director of the EIF invites top class performers of theater, dance, opera, and music (especially classical type of music) from all over the world. Aside from the performances on this Edinburgh Festival itself, there is also a range of outreach and education workshops, seminars, and lectures that happen throughout the year.
Common venues for the Edinburgh International Festival are The Hub, the Royal Lyceum Theater, The Queen’s Hall, the Festival Theater, the Usher Hall, and The Edinburgh Playhouse, which can house 420 up to 2,900 people.
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Among the most popular of Edinburgh festivals is the Edinburgh International Book Festival which takes place within the last three weeks of August each year. It is held in Charlotte Square which is in the very center of the city. Claiming to be the largest festival of this kind in the world, the book festival features many political and cultural talks and debates along with a popular children’s program.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This Edinburgh Festival is renowned as the largest arts festival in the world, which also takes place for three weeks every month of August.
The Fringe includes mostly of performing arts events, especially drama and comedy. However, the music and dance performing arts have the greatest significance. It showcases a vast variety of theatrical events, ranging from the classic works of ancient Greece, Samuel Beckett, and Shakespeare up to the contemporary works of today’s artists.
Any type of event is actually possible in this festival, primarily because no committee is set up to review entries for approval/rejection. Oftentimes, the Fringe presents experimental works that other more formal festivals may not include.
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
For the music lovers of the world, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival is the place to be. For ten days every year, people come from around the world to hear the musical stylings of many famous, or even legendary, performers such as Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis among others. Each year, the musical performers come from all corners of the globe to perform to a crowd of excited travelers and locals. In addition, Scottish musicians share their talents with the crowd as well. Of course, the blues is a major component to this festival so other performers who have come in the past were names like BB King and Buddy Guy.
The largest jazz event in the UK also has “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” that takes place out in Princes Street Gardens just under the Edinburgh Castle’s shadow. This event is free and showcases the top performers from the Edinburgh Festival.
Edinburgh International Film Festival
One of the earliest festivals under the ‘Edinburgh Festival’ umbrella is the International Film Festival. Running in June of each year, the Film Festival draws thousands of film fans to experience some of the industry’s freshest works.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival is the world’s oldest continually-running film festival, having started in 1947 same year as the Edinburgh International Festival. The event is famous for hosting initial screenings of renowned blockbusters such as Steven Spielberg’s ET and a number of Woody Allen Films, and continues to run a wide programme with international premieres and retrospectives.
Another recently added feature of the Film Festival includes a film study section – called ‘Scene by Scene’ – which has hosted celebrities such as Steve Martin and the Coen Brothers. The event is now viewed as on-par with the world-famous film festivals held in Cannes and Berlin and the diversity of the festival ensures that there is something for everyone to enjoy – this is especially true if you consider yourself to be somewhat of a film fanatic.
How Can You Enhance Your Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
During the Edinburgh Fringe Festival there are many highlights not limited to the comedy shows and alcohol, but it is considered the largest arts festival in the world. Most consider the main focus of this Edinburgh festival being the night life and atmosphere created. With the streets flooding with tourists, locals and not forgetting the students. There is a buzz in the city that is one of a kind and should not be missed if travelling for the festival or happen to live near but have never thought of visiting any of the shows during the Edinburgh festival period.
With many venues placed all over the city of Edinburgh, in place to help support the amount of comedy shows and exhibitions that will take place during the August month. Surely helps display the popularity and uniqueness of such an event, for comedy alone there will be thousands of performers to chose from. Including big names that will come to show their talent and perform for a very reasonable price and with many shows free.
One of the benefit’s of having such a large event in such a wonderful city is the amount of renowned bars and clubs that will be available and are spread out between every venue. Creating the ability to find locally brewed beer that will give you the opportunity to discover a beverage that has character and where you can find passion injected at each and every stage of the brewing process.
The hunt to find something more contemporary or even more classic can prove very rewarding. As a larger choice is available which can often help support independent breweries whilst allowing yourself to break free from the norm.
With many places to visit during the Edinburgh festival month why not consider the following which may just be able to offer you that something special during the festival. BrewDog in Cowgate pride themselves on serving the best and most exciting craft beers you will be able to get your hands on, which even includes the strongest beer ever is a must visit for it’s friendliness alone. Or chose to explore the Guildford Arms, just off Princes Street at West Register Street, one of Edinburgh’s finest traditional bars offering Scottish real ale and a fine selections of malt whiskeys.
If you live in England or require a long commute, fortunately there is a wealth of high quality Edinburgh boutique hotels that can offer one of a kind stays. Making a short trip one of not only comedy but comfort and relaxation throughout the whole Edinburgh festival’s period.
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo
This event also takes place every year, in the month of August, as part of the famous Edinburgh Festival. The festival features Military tattoos given by the Commonwealth, British Army, and International military teams and bands annually.
Annually, over 200, 000 people visit the Tattoo, set on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, to show their support for one of the most well-known and historic of Edinburgh Festivals occurring every year.
The Edinburgh Tattoo officially began in 1950, with only eight events on the programme. However, the tradition of the tattoo has its roots in the seventeenth century, when British Army units were stationed in the Low Countries of Scotland. Drummers from each garrison were sent into towns every evening to summon the soldiers of the army to return to their barracks, in a ritual that was known as ‘Doe den tap toe’ (or simply ‘tap toe’).
Today, the Edinburgh Tattoo has turned into an enormous international event, part of the series of Edinburgh festivals that showcases the best in Scottish and global talent. Over the years, various international military regiments – and even some African tribes – have performed, a tradition begun in 1952 when the Royal Netherlands Grenadiers were invited to participate in the show. Over 30 countries have been represented in the Tattoo so far, and its audience is just as eclectic. It is estimated that 30 per cent of the Edinburgh Tattoo’s audience is from Scotland, with another 35 per cent from the UK. The remaining 35 per cent of the audience originates in countries outside the UK, with another 100 million viewers watching the TV broadcast of the event worldwide.
For many people, the highlight of the Edinburgh Tattoo is the massed pipes and drums provided by regiments from both the British Army and global armies with Scottish links. Every evening during each performance of the Tattoo, the show concludes with a flag-lowering ceremony, which is accompanied by bugles sounding the Last Post (or the “Sunset bugle call of the Royal Marines), and ultimately ends with a lone piper in a single spotlight playing on the walls of Edinburgh Castle.
Cheap Accommodations During The Edinburgh Festival
With so much going on in one month it’s not surprising that the city’s population of about half a million is expanded by three times. And whilst the city has a great many hotels and guest houses it make sense to book early to secure your accommodation and fulfill your Edinburgh festival dream without breaking the bank. So here are some suggestions for the budget conscious seeking cheap discount hotels.
Ailsa Craig Hotel, 24 Royal Terrace, EH7 5AH (+44 131 556 1022) offers large clean rooms with original Georgian features. Popular with students and low budget groups.
Balfour Guest House, 90-92 Pilrig Street, EH6 5AY (+44 131 554 2106) has a central location with free parking that makes it popular with groups.
Brodies Guest House, 22 East Claremont Street, EH7 4JP (+44 131 556 4032) has been extensively refurbished with most rooms having en-suite facilities. Friendly service, free street parking and full Scottish breakfasts at this family owned establishment.
Claremont, 14-15 Claremont Terrace, EH7 4HX (+44 131 556 1487) has large clean rooms some with views of Arthur’s Seat – the extinct volcano that looms out of Holyrood Park. The downstairs disco may be much enjoyed by some but too noisy for others.
Frederick House Hotel, 42 Frederick Street, EH2 1EX (+44 131 226 1999) is a listed building very near Waverley Station – the main Edinburgh railway station.
Glendale Guest House, 5 Lady Road, EH16 5PA (+44 131 667 6588) situated in the conservation area of Craigmillar Park, 3km from Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street. Secure private parking and close to a direct bus route into town.
Greens Hotel, 24 Eglinton Terrace, EH12 5BY (+44 131 337 1565) owned by a charitable trust and located just near Haymarket Station this hotel offers good quality at a reasonable price.
Menzies Guesthouse, 33 Leamington Terrace, EH10 4JS (+44 131 229 4629) is located in the heart of the city of Edinburgh just a short walk away from Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle, King’s Theatre and all main attractions.
Nova Hotel, 5 Bruntsfield Crescent, EH10 4EZ (+44 131 447 6437) is just ten minutes from town and offers spacious rooms suitable for groups.
Town House, 65 Gilmore Place, EH3 9NU (+44 131 229 1985) is close to some of the major theatres making it convenient for Festival visitors.
Overall, the Edinburgh Festival is an experience like no other. For better perspective, think of taking thousands of people, want-to-be theatrical groups and performers, throw them all in a mix that almost resembles a State Fair in the U.S. and you have what is called the Edinburgh Festival. A trip to Scotland is not complete without this experience. The venue is the entire city and is beginning to spill over into neighboring suburb villages. Start planning your trip to Scotland and do not miss the Edinburgh Festival while you are there!
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