The Edinburgh International Festival began all the way back in 1947 and has since developed into something much, much bigger and farther reaching than it used to be. What began as a single festival to celebrate art and culture blossomed into a world famous festival as the decades went by.
What happened was that several other festivals began to appear around the same time. They were completely unrelated and started by different organizations but they quickly became a part of the same festival season. There are still other festivals taking place at the same time as the main one, called the Fringe. These occur on the outskirts of the festival proper and involve gatecrashing theatrical companies presenting their own festival to ride the original’s coattails.
The Fringe is a non-stop assortment of theatrical productions, music, art performances and cultural celebration. While the performances at the Queen’s Hall and various other venues are a big part of the festival and its major draw, the vendors that sell handmade crafts and local cuisine are a big part of the celebration as well.
The entire area is blanketed in advertisements for upcoming performances and festivals within the festival. The performers dress up in theatre garb for weeks on end, performing in public to make people aware of what’s upcoming in the festival. Banners fly throughout city announcing the festival long before it even begins and grow in density as the festival starts.
Once it begins, it seems like there isn’t anywhere you can go in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas where you won’t be affected by the festival in some way; whether it is the jovial spirit of the people or the permeation of cultural celebration through the area.
If you are planning to visit during festival season, which runs through most of August, then you should look into the schedule of events for both the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe Festival. Both offer websites that list a full set of events and how to get tickets for some of the more prestigious events.
The real challenge can be finding somewhere to stay, with most places filling up fast when the dates are announced. There are dozens of high quality hotels in Edinburgh, including fantastic boutique hotels like Hotel du Vin in Bristo Place, which is nestled among the action in the city centre. Many local residents actually leave the city for the month and rent their home to visitors, so there are plenty of accommodation options out there.
No matter what kind of art you enjoy, there is sure to be something you’ll be interested in each day of the festival, as almost every day holds multiple events in a variety of artistic forms. Some days will have two theatre performances and a classical music concert while the next day will have a theatre dance group performance followed by an orchestral concert and a speech by a renowned local artist.
Whatever you go to see, you probably don’t want to miss the fireworks celebrating the end of the festival, which are a form of art all their own. This isn’t your typical fireworks display either, as they are designed to celebrate the accomplishments of art by the local community and to finish off the festival in a big way.
You can enjoy the festival on any budget, as there are a variety of free shows as well as ticketed ones, so no one has to feel left out.
21 Jun 2016