A Guide to Edinburgh's Festivals & Fringe! (August 2019)

Edinburgh, UK

I can hardly believe we're more than halfway through August! If, like me, time has somehow escaped you and with less than a week left of Edinburgh's Festivals you're desperate to see what this year's festivals have to offer, don't fret there's still plenty of opportunities. In fact, having been on a recent press trip to the festivals, I know that if you wanted to cram all five festivals into one day, it's possible! I'm the first to admit that I'm no expert on Edinburgh's five August festivals, but after my press trip crash-course, I thought it might be useful for me to share an introductory guide and some tops tips! 


A Guide to Edinburgh's Festivals & Fringe! (August 2019)


1. Edinburgh Art Festival 

  •   From 25th July - 25th August

Whether you're an art enthusiast or not, I'm sure you'll have a great time visiting the Edinburgh Art Festival! It's certainly one of my favourite festivals of the year. Founded in 2004, the Edinburgh Art Festival brings together the capital’s wonderful art galleries, museums and public spaces to celebrate the very best in visual art with the majority of the festival being free to attend. Each year, the Festival commissions talented artists to create a special programme. This year, Nathan Coley, Alfredo Jaar, Rosalind Nashashibi, Sriwhana Spong, and Corin Sworn bring different perspectives to this years theme "Stories for an Uncertain World". 


Top Tips:

  • If you only have time to visit one exhibition I would recommend visiting Parliament Hall. It's just off the Royal Mile and next to St Giles so it's very central! Currently, the magnificent hall is hosting Nathan Coley's latest work "The Future is Inside Us, It's not Somewhere Else" and takes inspiration from 19th century hand-painted scenic wallpaper.

  • Another slightly hidden gem to check out is, Alfredo Jaar's "I can't go on, I'll go on" installation at West College Street. Jaar who lives and works in New York reflects the time we live in where we're flooded by chaos and confusion.


2. Edinburgh Festival Fringe

  •   From 2nd August - 26th August

Does the Edinburgh Festival Fringe really need an introduction? Probably not, but perhaps if you're not from Scotland then you might not have heard of it. Dating back to 1947, the Fringe was born when eight companies were not invited by the International Festival to take part. Despite this, they decided to attend and preform anyway, on the 'fringes' of the main festival. Today, it's now the largest art festival in the world and remains an open access festival, meaning pretty much anything goes. From theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, children's shows, physical theatre, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions, there's something for everyone. So, if you have a story to tell perhaps you'd better start looking for a venue now as you could be part of the Fringe next year if you wanted to!

Top Tips: 

  • There's an overwhelming amount to see and do during the Fringe. One of my recommendations would be to take a walk down the Royal Mile, where you'll see various street performers and get a taste of what is on offer. If you see a musician or performance which takes your fancy, take a leaflet or photograph one and attend their main show. As well as street performers, keep an eye out for the Street Typist who will write a poem for you on the spot on any topic for a donation - what fun!

  • For those of you who are sticking to a strict budget or spontaneously have a spare few hours, why not check out the Free Fringe or pay a visit to the Virgin Money Half Price Hut. 



3. Edinburgh International Festival

  •   From 2nd August - 26th August

The Edinburgh International Festival is where it all began. Dating back to 1947, EIF was founded as a celebration of the performing arts and also to bring nations together after the Second World War. There's often a fair bit of confusion regarding the difference between the Fringe Festival and the EIF, and two of the main differences is that the EIF is carefully curated, meaning for the rest of the year, the EIF team travel the world on the lookout for most exciting and creative artists for next year's festival. Also, unlike the Fringe Festival EIF focuses solely on a programme of classical music, theatre, opera and dance from around the globe.

4. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

  •   From 2nd August - 25th August

What can I say about the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, other than it's simply spectacular! As if it wasn't impressive enough that 1,000 military and civilian performers from around the world deliver superb performances which show their precision and hard work, but the Tattoo also has Edinburgh Castle as a backdrop. From traditional Scottish pipes and highland dancers to exotic traditions from around the world, the Tattoo is truly a magical spectacle and one to add your bucket list. There are still some tickets available for this year!

This year's theme is “Kaleidoscope” which I find very fitting as the show not only features bold colours and lights but it was also a Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster who invented the Kaleidoscope! 


Top Tips: 

  • If you do attend, don't forget to bring something waterproof and warm to wear, as it can get very chilly! Yes, I know it's summer but it's also Scotland.

  • If you can't make it to Edinburgh for the Tattoo this year, keep an eye out for the programme on BBC One or iPlayer.



5. Edinburgh International Book Festival

  •   From 10th August - 25th August

Last, but certainly not least, located in Charlotte Square is the Edinburgh International Book Festival - a must-visit for any literary lover! It's wonderful to have such a festival in Edinburgh as the city has a long-standing rich literary history. Founded in 1983, the Book Festival is technically the newest edition to August's festivals but despite its later start it's grown to become a major part of Edinburgh's summer. With over 900 events, from author events and interactive workshops to lively debates and book signings, as well as the highly regarded Baillie Gifford Children's Programme, there's so much to see and do at the Book Festival. 

Top Tip: The Book Festival runs free nightly events in the Spiegeltent which fuse music and words. When we visited, the tent hosted Band Said the Gun which aimed to introduce poetry to people in an exciting new way.  



I was invited by Edinburgh Festival City to experience Edinburgh's five August festivals as part of a paid partnership and press trip. All opinions are my own.

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