Take a Trip to Scottish Capital For the Edinburgh Fringe Festival This Summer!
For those looking for the perfect time to visit the capital of Scotland, August is the month you’ll find to be most strongly recommended. Not only does it bring Edinburgh’s best weather (well, sometimes), but it also heralds the time of year when Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place, an event that sees hundreds of thousands of tourists descend upon the city every year.
The annual festivalalso sees hundreds of seasoned performers and aspiring artists take to the streets and set up their stalls at numerous venue to show the people of Edinburgh what they can do…be it comedy, singing, body-popping, break-dancing or fire-eating…
You may be asking yourself what distinguishes the Fringe Festival (sometimes referred to as the Festival Fringe or simply ‘The Fringe’) from the Edinburgh International Festival…or the rest of festivals around the world?
Old To Modern Fringe
Well it really all comes down to invitations and gate-crashing, to put it simply. When the Edinburgh Festival was set up in 1947, only those artists who had received official invitations to perform at the Festival were ‘allowed’ to attend. This is still the case today.
As a kind of peaceful protest, seven theatre companies simply turned up in Edinburgh to perform for the crowds, determined to share their artistic abilities and message with the people of Edinburgh.
It is this approach which makes the Fringe Festival so unique and popular. The passion displayed by both the performing artists and the huge crowds embodies the essence of performing arts as a means of expression.
As one might expect, there was a subtle rivalry between the Edinburgh Festival and the Fringe Festival in the first few decades as there was a feeling among the Edinburgh Festival organisers that this Fringe Festival ‘side show’ undermined the official festival despite attracting huge numbers of people to the city and positive publicity.
In 1959, the Festival Fringe Society was founded with the aim of providing an element of organisation to the expanding festival. Official guides to the Fringe were produced for the first time to help visitors make the most of their time at the festival.
By the early 80s, the Fringe Festival had grown in popularity to such an extent that around 500 theatre companies were attending every year, making it officially the largest arts festival in the world; a quite incredible achievement!
The popularity of the Fringe Festival has seen the number of shows go over the 2000 mark in recent years with the most popular genres being comedy, theatre, music and dance.
The Fringe’s defining concept of art without restrictions is never more present than in the delightful street performances around town. If you are not keen to purchase tickets for a show at one of the Fringe Festivals 260+ venues, you can simply take in an often extravagant street performance on the Royal Mile and around the Old Town.
Many of the street performers use their time with the crowds to show off their skills in the hope that many of the onlookers will come to their official shows at the venues around town. Many other performers are simply there because performance art runs in their blood and they love to entertain people!
The fact that most shows and the artists who perform in them barely break even is testament to the participants’ commitment to performing arts and entertainment. From their perspective, the Fringe Festival is often seen as a testing ground, a way to make contacts or a way of gaining experience for the future.
Why Should You Attend The Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
Although Edinburgh has many attractions the whole year round, visiting the city during its annual Fringe Festival is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience.
If you have never visited Edinburgh before, then taking a trip during the Fringe Festival will give you a unique introduction to the city.
Meanwhile, if the Scottish capital is one place you have visited frequently, then it will give you a chance to see it in a whole new light.
Either way, staying in a castle during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is guaranteed to make your break a memorable one and will allow you to share all the fun with your friends and family.
Lasting for three weeks, the vast array of performers who descend on the city is staggering.
Whatever your preference when it comes to entertainment, you are bound to find something that takes your fancy.
Everything from operas and musicals to plays, comedy and street performances are represented by the diverse groups of people who attend each year, with both amateur and professional artists taking to the stage in various venues around Edinburgh.
There is even an international flavour to the event, with performers travelling from around the world to get a spot at the famous festival.
Picking mansions in Scotland for your holiday could be the best way to combine seeing the shows and relaxing.
From humble beginnings back in 1947, the festival’s popularity has grown substantially among both performers and audiences alike.
Just eight theatre troupes trod the boards when the impromptu event was held alongside the first Edinburgh International Festival.
More than ten years later, the Festival Fringe Society was born and the event as it is today began to develop.
Organisers still adhere to the initial principle that none of the performers will have their shows artistically vetted, guaranteeing a truly mixed bag of entertainment each year.
The festival is held during August and booking Scottish holiday accommodation ahead of this time is a good thing to do.
With everything from high-brow plays to opera, musicals and comedians, you will be able to find something on the programme that takes your fancy.
Families are also well catered for, with a wide range of child-friendly performances and activities taking place each year.
Once the kids have gone to bed after a day at the festival, you could find a babysitter to take care of the little ones while you pop out to enjoy some of the adult-oriented entertainment on offer.
There Is Plenty More To See In Edinburgh Besides The Fringe!
Although the Edinburgh Fringe Festival could easily take up your entire stay in the Scottish capital, there is plenty more to see besides the performances.
The City of Edinburgh, where the lively activity of Scotland’s capital city sits in perfect contrast to the tranquility of the surrounding area.
Edinburgh has one of the most beautiful vistas in the world, making it a perfect base to explore the city and the surrounding countryside. With Scotland’s most famous castle dominating the city skyline, there is plenty to see and do with the ideal balance between all things contemporary and traditional.
Every year during the month of August Edinburgh welcomes thousands of visitors to its world famous fringe festival as described earlier in this article. It is in fact made up of a variety of festivals, exhibitions and events including:
Edinburgh International Festival offers a varied array of classical music, theatre, opera and dance events and is one of the most important cultural celebrations to take place in the world.
Second on the list is Edinburgh’s International Film Festival which has, for more than half a century, presented some of cinemas most significant and exciting moments and played host to the world’s greatest filmmakers.
The film festival presents films and events carefully selected by those in the know and this festival is a must-see for any film fans out there. Sir Sean Connery, Tilda Swinton and Robert Carlyle are all Patrons of Edinburgh’s International Film Festival and if you are lucky you might just spot a famous face when you are there.
Edinburgh International Book Festival is another popular event on the calendar and is the largest book festival of its kind, with over 700 world-class writers and scholars taking part in more than 800 events every year.
Thousands of visitors of all ages visit the Book Festival, which is held in August, to debate and discuss the latest offerings and, of course, to meet their favorite authors.
In at fifth place is Hogmanay, the New Year festival which is best known for the New Year’s Eve street party which attracts upwards of 120,000 people every year. The largest New Year event in the world there is a range of celebrations and activities for all ages and Edinburgh certainly makes a special destination from which to see in the year ahead.
There are of course another seven festivals taking place throughout the year, from science to arts and jazz to storytelling so whatever your taste and interest you can be sure to find a festival to fit the bill. Additionally, many head to Edinburgh for its month long festival at Christmas which culminates in the world famous Hogmanay celebrations.
Even if this is not your first visit to the city, an open-top bus tour of the city is a great way to get your bearings and work out what’s where. Tours follow a circuit through the 18th century Georgian New Town and the medieval Old Town so you can always get back to where you started. The top of the Royal Mile is a great starting place to explore on foot. Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s number one attraction and definitely worth a visit. As well as the obvious visits to see the Stone of Destiny and the Crown Jewels of Scotland, it’s worth trying to locate possibly the most touching aspect of Edinburgh Castle, the soldiers’ dog cemetery. The cemetery is a small garden used as a burial place for officer’s pet dogs and regimental mascots. Arguably the greatest view of Edinburgh is from the castle ramparts as nothing in the city is permitted to be built higher. The fifteenth century cannon at the castle called Mon’s Meg is fired at 1pm every day.
The next most visited attraction is that of The Palace of Holyroodhouse. Built beside an Augustinian Abbey dating back to 1128, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Situated at the end of the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace is closely associated with Scotland’s unruly past, including Mary, Queen of Scots, who made her home here between 1561 and 1567. Successive kings and queens have made Holyrood Palace the premier Scottish royal residence. Today, the Palace is used for official entertaining and ceremonies of state
The ancient tales of grave robbing and murder buzz constantly around your head as you tour the city either on foot or on an Edinburgh open-topped bus. You can also choose from a number of nightly ghost tours available if you are brave enough to cope with the grisly truths of Edinburgh after dark.
After a session of shopping at Scotland’s most famous department store Jenners (opened in 1838 and now owned by House of Fraser) on Princes Street, why not head over to the huge and beautiful Princes Street Gardens. Built from a former loch, the gardens are the perfect place to get out a picnic whilst taking in the views of the castle, the Old Town and the park’s famed floral clock. A great place to watch the hectic world of Edinburgh fly by.
The city is at its most hectic during the summer months for this is the time of the major festivals. The immensely popular Edinburgh Fringe Festival offers a mixed batch of light entertainment from comedy to Shakespeare. To give you an idea of the sheer size of the Fringe, 2006’s Festival saw hundreds of groups putting on 1,867 different shows with a total of 28,014 performances in 261 venues.
Although driving is not recommended inside the city itself due to restrictions of parking spaces and the convenience of an excellent public transport service, hiring a car in Edinburgh is recommended to take in the wonderful countryside that surround the city. A 15 minute drive takes you into the coastal, scenic town of Musselburgh. Life here is a lot more down to earth and less cosmopolitan than its neighbouring big brother. Expect to find a race track, possibly the oldest nine hole golf course in Scotland and some excellent opportunities for fine dining along your route.
Just south of Edinburgh is the mid-Lothian region particularly renowned for its diversity and places of interest to pursue. A short drive away presents you with the delights of several castles that are open to visitors, including one that has now been converted into a luxurious castle hotel. You will also find stately homes and old churches, including the Rosslyn Chapel (in the village of Roslin) featured in the Da Vinci Code novel by Dan Brown.
Overall, The Fringe Festival is a wonderful opportunity to experience how vibrant, exciting and downright quirky Edinburgh can be! Enjoy your vacation to Scotland this year!
Visit information about festivals section to explore a full list of festivals happening around the world yearly!