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5 Edinburgh Festivals for August

Edinburgh Insider Guides
by Kristin Conard Aug 4, 2011
Edinburgh hosts 5 major festivals during the month of August.

WHILE THE DATES here are for 2011, the festivals are annual events.

Art Festival: August 4 to September 4

From BBC News: There will be 42 exhibits at the Art Festival this year. The festival kicked off with “a larger-than-life-sized devil’s head made from thousands of match heads” set on fire. On a less incendiary note, the National Gallery of Scotland is showing 50 portraits of the Queen, and “Turner prize-winner Martin Creed has transformed the landmark Scotsman Steps by cladding each of the 104 steps in a different colour of marble.”

For the complete list of shows, click here.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo: August 5 to 27

There is some pretty intense marching, drumming, and bagpipe playing at the Military Tattoo. Edinburgh Castle is a dramatic setting, and the festival has sold out for the past 12 years.

From BBC News: A £16 million arena will be unveiled for this year’s Tattoo. The theme for this year’s event is “Of the Sea.”

As usual it will feature more than 1,000 performers from around the world, many of them military personnel.

One of the more unusual elements will be the 40 military musicians from the Netherlands who play while riding bicycles in military formation.

Other international attractions include the 90-piece Brazilian Marine Corps Martial Band and the German Mountain Army Band from Bavaria.

For tickets, click here.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: August 5 to 29

From BBC News: “The Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival, with 2,542 shows in 258 venues over three weeks.” Some big names have performed at the festival; my favorites: Stephen Fry, Eddie Izzard, Jude Law, Emma Thompson, and Jimmy Carr. Shows can take place anywhere, from the streets to pubs to tents to concert halls, and 1/3 of the performances are comedy.

Kristen Schaal, who I know from Flight of the Conchords and The Daily Show with John Stewart, is performing there as is not quite as well known act The Boy With Tape On His Face.

Alec Baldwin will be performing in Hamlet, but you won’t be able to actually see the “real” him – it’s a pre-recorded 3-D version. New this year is the cabaret category, which includes an act I saw lots of signs for when I lived in Brighton: The Lady Boys of Bangkok. And the all night performance of Hotel Madea will be six hours long and end with the audience and performers sharing breakfast.

For the full schedule, click here.

International Festival: August 12 to September 4

This was the festival that started them all. From BBC News: Launched in 1947 as “a platform for the flowering of the human spirit,” the International Festival features classical music, opera, dance, and theatre with Asia as this year’s theme/inspiration.

Some of the shows I’d like to see this year are the one-man staging of King Lear (I mean, how would that work?), The Peony Pavilion by the National Ballet of China, Princess Bari – contemporary choreography of a Korean folk tale, and, yes, I’d like to see the fireworks show.

For the full schedule, click here.

Edinburgh International Book Festival: August 13 to 29

I didn’t have any idea that Edinburgh was the first UNESCO City of Literature. I didn’t even know that was a thing. The hosting of the book festival each year definitely played a part. From Edinburgh Festivals: “The tented garden in Charlotte Square entices 220,000 visitors every year, making the Edinburgh International Book Festival the largest public celebration of the written word in the world.” This year’s event will have 797 authors, many of whom are award winners, and 757 events.

Something that resonates with me as a traveler is the selection of new writing the festival commissioned on the theme of Elsewhere. You can read the 50 stories here.

For the full schedule, click here.

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