Ten things you didn’t know about… the Edinburgh Festival
9 August 2010

If you plan to visit Edinburgh during August, make sure you have booked somewhere to stay. Be prepared for very long days of entertainment as Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is taken over by not one but two huge arts festivals! 

Shows can start early in the morning and others finish late at night. There will also be lots of performing on the streets of Edinburgh. There is a very lively atmosphere in the city for the festival.

Here are a few facts about the festivals.

  • The Edinburgh International Festival runs from August 13 and hosts internationally-known opera, dance, theatre and music in the city’s biggest venues.
  • This year, the International Festival has performers from North and South America, the Pacific rim countries, Russia, Spain, Holland, Germany and the UK.
  • The Edinburgh Fringe, which starts a week earlier than the International Festival, uses different venues for a wide variety of acts.
  • The Fringe Festival is having its biggest-ever year. This year there are 2,453 shows, with 21,000 performers. It is the world’s biggest arts festival.
  • Both festivals started in 1947, to celebrate Europe's cultural life after the war.
  • Many of the UK’s comedians either begin their career at Edinburgh or become well-known there. There is an annual prize for the best comedy act of the year, which has helped many of its winners become famous. Past winners include Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (who now plays House in the American drama series).
  • And not only comedians, but performers and writers from all over the UK come to Edinburgh to try to become better-known. It is traditional for performers to share rented flats, often sleeping on floors, so that they can perform at the Fringe. Lots of students, and even schoolchildren, take plays to the Fringe.
  • There are so many acts on in the Fringe and the International Festival that many events start at 11am, just to get somewhere to perform. Lots of these shows are publicised by their own performers handing out leaflets.
  • Both the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe Festival are very affordable. Tickets to performances start from just £8, and if you are under 26, you also have access to £8 on-the-day tickets.
  • If you visit in August, you may also like to try and see the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It is not part of either the Edinburgh International Festival or the Fringe Festival, but you can hear the bagpipes being played by the Scottish Regiments' pipe bands at a series of performances at Edinburgh Castle. Military bands from overseas are also invited to perform each year. More than 200,000 people see the show live and 100 million watch it on TV every year.


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