Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Edinburgh International Festival

Post Festival Fireworks
The  Edinburgh International Festival of Performing Arts takes place every year around the middle of August and lasts three weeks. Normally it starts with a parade and ends with a firework display from Edinburgh Castle. The festival director invites top class performers in music, theatre opera and dance from all over the world to perform at the festival, which is a must for the lover of High Culture.


The Festival was conceived after the Second World War as “a platform for the flowering of the human spirit”. In 1944 Rudolf Bing was convinced that none of the shattered cities in the UK could host a festival of the scale seen before the war and in 1946 looked for a suitable UK city, one that could handle one to one and a half million visitors over three weeks, it should be scenic and picturesque and attractive to tourists and foreign visitors. Edinburgh was approached and the first festival took place in 1947 focussing on classical music. The next year drama came to the festival and in 1950 the Edinburgh Military Tattoo became part of the Festival as a result of the British Army's desire to showcase itself during the festival.

The Fringe Festival  emerged at the same time as the International Festival and the two festivals had a hostile relationship for about 25 years, with advocates of the International Festival complaining about the low quality of the Fringe events and advocates of the Fringe saying that quality was a bonus, enjoyment being more important. Standards emerged for the Fringe and now the best Fringe shows are on a par with those of the International Festival but largely different.


The festival box office is currently on Castlehill just below the castle, in a converted church known as the Hub, formerly the Highland Tollbooth, that has a 240 foot spire visible throughout Edinburgh.

There are only a few venues all in the centre of town and up to ten other festivals take place at the same time, most notably the Fringe, which includes many street performers. During this time public transport is disrupted by the street artists but nobody minds.

The spectacular firework display at the end of the festival can be seen for free from Princes Street and for a fee it can be seen from Princes Street Gardens, with a more expensive ticket available for a seat in the Ross Theatre in the gardens. Some tickets are normally available for last minute sales purchased in person on the day of the display.

Accommodation can be very hard to find during the festival period, and early booking is essential.

The Badjao Bed and Breakfast offers excellent value to visitors (Including a cooked Breakfast) and every bus from here takes you near most festival venues. 

Wrapping up

The Edinburgh International Festival is a must for the lover of high culture. It offers Music, Opera, Drama and Dance. We prefer the Fringe Festival however, with its comedians and unpredictable performers. If you are a student or educator you may wish to take part in the festival's year long education program. If you are a performer a visit is almost essential if you hope to be invited to take part.   If you are attending performances our Bed and Breakfast is a short ride from most of the performances. 

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