Edinburgh is the world’s leading festival city with amazing festivals taking place all year. Many of these festivals take place in August, which is know as the festival month here. This is when the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh International Book Festival, among others, all happen at the same time in a mass gathering of people from all over the world. On top of all these art festivals, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo also takes place in August. All these events together create the Edinburgh Festival.
The Edinburgh International Festival is an annual festival of performing arts – it brings over top class performers of music (especially classical music), opera, theatre and dance from all around the world. The International Festival presents events which cannot easily be achieved by any other UK arts organisation through innovative programming and a commitment to new work. These shows are guaranteed to be of high quality!
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival – last year it featured over 50,000 performances of 3,400 shows! It is an open access festival, meaning that anyone can participate with any type of performance. The official Fringe Programme categorises shows into sections for theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events – the largest section of these is comedy.
The Edinburgh Art Festival is a visual arts festival, and the largest one of its kind in the United Kingdom. It comprises over 45 exhibitions across more than 30 venues. It includes partner exhibitions and pop-up events by contemporary and modern artists from the UK and beyond.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place in Charlotte Square and is the largest festival of it’s kind in the world. Every year it brings around 1000 writers and thinkers from across the planet together with readers for inspiration, entertainment and discussion. The performers are novelists, poets, scientists, philosophers, sportsmen, illustrators, comic creators, historians, musicians, biographers, environmentalists, economists, Nobel and Booker prize-winners and many more besides.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an iconic Edinburgh institution and it sells out year after year. It is a global gathering which showcases the talents of musicians and performers from every corner of the globe. Every year the tattoo has a different theme, which all the performances are built around. More than 14 million people have attended the Tattoo, with an annual audience of around 220,000. In addition, around 100 million people see the Tattoo each year on TV. Fun fact: not a single performance has ever been cancelled since its first official performance in 1950.
The best way to get the most out of the Edinburgh Festival is to walk around the city and be spontaneous – the city is covered in posters, the streets are filled with people handing out flyers (especially the Royal Mile) and there are performance venues all over the city. There are also plenty of street performers and buskers on the Royal Mile.
The Edinburgh Festival is a celebration of all forms of art – you never know what’s around the corner and that is the best part of it! Nothing shocks an Edinburgh-local during August, we’ve seen it all!