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.edinburghfestivalcity.com.

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.

If the Edinburgh International Festival is the parent of British art 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. It's now the largest festival of its kind in the world. Its events range from the truly brilliant to the downright awful; you could experience tomorrow's comedy, music, or dance megastar for free, or you could hand over your hard-earned cash to sit through an absolute car crash of a production. The risk is all part of the fun.

Edinburgh festival time can fill almost any artistic need. Besides the International Festival and Festival Fringe, look for the Edinburgh Art Festival, the International Book Festival, and the Military Tattoo.

Don't worry if you are visiting the city at another time; there's always something interesting happening. Other big festivals throughout the year include the Edinburgh International Science Festival (Easter), the Children's Festival (May to June), the Film Festival (June to July), the Jazz & Blues Festival (July), the Storytelling Festival (October), and, of course, Edinburgh's Hogmanay (New Year's Eve).

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