Edinburgh and the Lothians Feature
- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Festivals in Edinburgh
Walking around Edinburgh in late July, you'll likely feel the first vibrations of the earthquake that is festival time, which shakes the city throughout August and into September. You may hear reference to an "Edinburgh Festival," but this is really an umbrella term for five separate festivals all taking place around the same time. For an overview, check out www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk.
Edinburgh International Festival. The best-known and oldest of the city's festivals is the Edinburgh International Festival, founded in 1947 when Europe was recovering from World War II. In recent years the festival has drawn as many as 400,000 people to Edinburgh, with more than 100 acts by world-renowned music, opera, theater, and dance performers, filling all the major venues in the city. Tickets for the festival go on sale in April, and many sell out within the month. However, you may still be able to purchase tickets, which range from £6 to £60, during the festival.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe. If the Edinburgh International Festival is the parent of British festivals, then the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is its unruly child. The Festival Fringe started in 1947 at the same time as the International Festival, when eight companies that were not invited to perform in the latter decided to attend anyway. Knowing there would be an audience, these companies found small, local theaters to host them. By 2005 there were 1,800 shows and 27,000 performances of those shows at the Fringe, making it the largest festival of its kind in the world. Its events range from the brilliant to the impossibly mundane, badly performed, and downright tacky.
While the Fringe is going on, most of the city center becomes one huge performance area, with fire-eaters, sword swallowers, unicyclists, jugglers, string quartets, jazz groups, stand-up comics, and magicians all thronging into High Street and Princes Street. Every available theater and pseudo performance space is utilized—church halls, community centers, parks, sports fields, putting greens, and nightclubs. In 1954 the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society was formed, and it oversees everything from ticket sales to publicity.
Festivals for all interests. Edinburgh festival time can fill almost any artistic need. Besides the International Festival and Festival Fringe, look for the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, the International Book Festival, and the Military Tattoo, which includes reenactments of historic events, military marching bands, Highland dancing, and more. The Edinburgh International Film Festival used to take place in August, but it moved to June when the calendar is less congested.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe