I had wondered why the hotel in Edinburgh was so expensive; on check-in we were told that we were lucky to have even found a room in Edinburgh at all during August. Throughout the entire month, Edinburgh is consumed by the "Edinburgh Festival Fringe", the largest outdoor street performers' festival in the world. This is the place to be in the U.K. during the last month of the summer. The Fringe isn't just limited to the streets either, thousands of plays and performances are held in hundreds of local venues; just walking around town you will be handed so many flyers and waybills for shows that you can't possibly carry them all. I found it a little uncomfortable refusing the flyers because sometimes the people handing them out were the performers themselves and I wouldn't want to hurt their feelings. They sell close to 1.5 million tickets for a variety of shows--from avant-garde to standup comedy.
Meanwhile, the streets team with performances, plays, musicians, jugglers, and political ranters. It's so wild and so much fun; you can stroll from one show to another, just checking them all out. Crowds tend to gather at the best performances--a band called "Saor Patrol" had an entire block of people rocking out to bagpipes and some of the heaviest drumming I've ever heard. I bought their CD afterwards.
The Fringe started in 1947, when Scottish and English performing companies showed up uninvited and gate-crashed the "Edinburgh International Festival"--a post-war festival meant to reunite Europe. through cultures. The Fringe's founding principle is "open-access for all performers."
If you stop on the street to enjoy the shows or to take some photos of them, please, please leave the performers a few pounds or buy a piece of their merchandise. They entertained you--so it's only fair!
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an awesome place to be in August. Wander around, watch street performers from around the globe (one act I saw was a German guy playing the didgeridoo and another instrument from Cameroon). You have people doing plays, singing, comedy, beat box. There's stalls set up with plenty of arts and craft, get a henna tattoo or your hair braided.
You will also end up with handfuls of pamphlets of acts for other festivals as well. You're only problem will be deciding which ones to go and see!
There have been theaters, err, theatres at this location since 1830. During the first sixty years they were called Dunedin Hall, the Royal Amphitheatre, Alhambra Music Hall, the Queen’s Theatre and Newsome’s Circus.
In 1892 the Empire Palace Theatre was opened on this site. "It was built by the great British theatre architect, Frank Matcham, with lavish decoration: elephants with Nubian riders, nymphs and cherubs abounded the plasterwork. The original Empire Palace Theatre sat 3000 theatregoers on four plush levels of green, cream and tobacco gold." (Quoted from the website below.)
This theatre survived a disastrous fire in 1911 and was used until 1928, when it was replaced by an even grander version. From 1928 to 1963 the Empire was a variety, musical and opera house, and was also used for ice shows. From 1963 to 1991 it was a bingo hall, but then it was completely rebuilt again, with a new all-glass front end facing Nicolson Street.
They describe the current auditorium as "a wonderful restoration of the Empire Theatre’s former 1928 glory, a dramatic mix of art nouveau, beaux arts and neo-classicism, encompassing perfect acoustics within a parlour-like intimacy." It now has a capacity of 1915 seats.
It was re-named the Edinburgh Festival Theatre when it re-opened in June 1994.
Please see my Edinburgh Festival Theatre travelogue for more photos and information about this interesting theatre.
No matter what you're into you will find something you like here. And probably you wont have the time to try everything you want to.
Streetartists, theatre performances, great music appearences, food food and more food, beer tents, shopping, the Tattoo, art shows, clubbing, international markets, fireworks... Its all there!
Fringe last 4weeks, Aug to Sep, dates varies.
Visit the Edinburgh Fringe Website to find out more!
If you happen to be in the area in the last three weeks of August, don't miss the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, when the city becomes a great theatre, seething with crowds trying to see as many performances as possible. The performances go on all day and half the night, many of them free, all trying to shock, amuse and, above all, entertain. The pubs, cafes and restaurants stay open till the early hours of the morning, so, if you are into nightlife this is the place for you. The Festival has a long tradition: started in 1947 soon after the war ended, it was supposed to bring the nations closer together through culture. And it still does, as successfully as ever.
If you can get a room this is definitely the best time to come. Not really just one festival but a range coinciding at one time to form the world's biggest annual arts gathering.
For more info go to:
The 5 main parts of the festival are:
Fringe festival (comedy, music and plays)
International festival (opera, classical music and dance)
Tattoo (Armies from a selection of countries peform at the castle)
Book festival (a personal favourite - hear talks from world experts or meet famous authors in a very chilled location)
Wow. Among all of Edinburgh's August Festivals, I think this is the largest. Hundreds of shows each day throughout most of the month, they have comedians, plays, musicians, dancers and who knows what else. It takes over the city! If you hang in the right places you might just get a free ticket. Otherwise go to the fringe ticket office or to the venue itself for tickets to shows.
If you are short on cash, you're still in luck. There are street performers all day on the Royal Mile and on the stage in Princes Street Gardens. And they're FREE! yes, FREE!
The Edinburgh Festival is the largest arts festival in the world. The city of Edinburgh hosts this annual event since 1947 and it usually takes place in the last three weeks of August. It started as a kind of opera festival, but nowadays encompasses several separate events.
One of them is the Festival Fringe, which due to its open policy offers a wide variety of artists and street performance.
Another event is the famous Military Tattoo, where the Army presents a lively programme of music and marching, including the kilt and bagpipe culture of Scotland.
Edinburgh International Festival:
The Fringe started up as a subsidiary to the main Edinburgh Festival of arts, books, poetry, paintings, pictures, classical performances etc etc.
The Fringe has sort of got out of control. So many *acts* have come here in the last three weeks of August that you could not possibly come here and see all of them, you have to pick and choose carefully. The main advantage is that you can see some big UK names and also big worldwide names performing for very little money. The other advantage is that you have the choice of world wide performers. Ladyboys from Bangkok. Drummers from China. Dancers from Korea. Puppetry of the Pen!s from Australia. One on one guitar recitals from professional musicians. Free Comedy shows all night long. Street performers (see pic). You want it, we got it. As well as the Castle, the Tattoo (featured separately). The whole town comes alive and is invaded by The World. It's pretty special, but for accommodation, you will probably have to book a year in advance.
Come and enjoy, you can do street shows for nothing and exist on Marks and Spencer's sandwiches and bottled water.
This festival is held at The Meadows in south Edinburgh. It is held annually. In 2009 it fell on the weekend of 6 and 7 June; from 10am -5pm on the Saturday and 11am - 5pm on the Sunday.
The Festival Stage and the Forest Stage both have bands, choir, and dancing is performed. There was also an Art Tent from Edinburgh College of Art. Kids tents with arts, crafts, face painting and other activities. Near the Kids' tent was the Capoeira Demonstration of Brazilian arts, games, music and dance.
For the adults there is a Beer Tent where Williams Brothers Brewery provides ale.
Toilets are placed at opposite sides of the grounds.
Football and cricket were being played, and there were Amusements with rides .
As well as these large attractions were stalls selling clothing, plants, books, bric a brac, second hand furniture and jewellery.
Stalls selling crepes, burgers, hot drinks also could be found.
Prices were reasonable, or even dirt cheap.
The Edinburgh Festival is the world most popular street festival. People from all over the world come here for the athmosphere, the street musicians, the folklore...
We were just outside that period, but still strange and weird people on the streets...;-)
between July and September the city plays host to many festivals, including in August the Edinburgh International Festival with it's attendant Fringe Festival.
During this time the Royal Mile becomes an open air circus, with buskers, jugglers, acrobats, magicians and musicians taking over every inch of the streets.
this is the biggest annual event ever in Edinburgh and Scotland at a larger scope. it attracts over thousands and thousands of tourists from all over the country and overseas, with over 16,000,000 ticket sales over the month of august only.
this year it has hosted over 2000 live shows including british contemporary performances, nigerian, mexian, japanese besides other international shows. the shows are at small, medium and large scale that can have 5 attendants or over 200 people.
the Royal Mile is a very good venue for previews where performers and artists pre-perform their shows in front of the walk-by audience, distribute their flyers, and get a wider audience later in the evening. this area can get very crowded and thus very vibrant and friendly throghout the whole day and all venues are within a walking distance
the Edinburgh festival may coincide with other festivals like the Film Festival, the Fringe and the Tattoo, where they all revolve around theatre and music and arts in general. very popular and must attend if you're around
August in Edinburgh means only with thing - the Festivals. In 4 short weeks, the separate Military Tattoo, International Festival, Fringe Festival, Film Festival and Book Festival offer fare for all tastes as hundreds of thousands of people flock to the city. The International Festival is the oldest in the world: the Fringe Festival the biggest in the world. Every theatre, church hall, community centre, room above a pub becomes a theatre venue as some 3000 productions vie for audiences, press coverage and awards. Even the streets become venues. Its an exhilarating if exhausting time to be in the city.
Each year from mid-August and for 3 weeks the city is full of visitors because of this famous festival. There is a great number of performances of music,theatre and dance by some of the worlds leading artists.