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Every year hundreds of thousands of people from around the globe arrive in Edinburgh, the festival city. This year I was lucky enough to be a part of it, thanks to the Edinburgh Festival City team.

Just about everyone has heard of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, but what they don’t always know about are the other four festivals all happening pretty much at the same time; the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Art Festival, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The five festivals combined make Edinburgh a very special and unforgettable place to be in August.

The atmosphere in the city is electric with performers all wanting to introduce themselves and get you into their shows later that day, leaflet distributors doing the same and visitors gasping at one awesome site to the next, just three feet away from the one before. People are singing, dancing, yelling and laughing; everyone is having a ball. The streets are crowded, but it’s still somehow possible to wander along High Street (where it’s all happening) at a relaxed pace.

Then there’s the running around between shows; comedy, opera, drama, cabaret, dance, children’s shows, music, the spoken word, events, exhibitions, galleries and the outstanding food stalls around George Square. The best haggis and chips I’ve ever had. They even sell lobster. It’s got to be the poshest street food I’ve come across before.  

Edinburgh’s reputation as a leading international destination relies on the growing appeal of its festivals. World-class cultural events need a world-class city and Edinburgh has arrived, and is sure to stay on the world-class stage.

If you think five festivals seems a lot for one city, you’re in for a surprise. Edinburgh is host to 12 major festivals throughout the year and all manage to reinvent themselves every year to keep people going back.

Festival calendar 2016 - 2017

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (15 – 24 July 2017)

The Jazz and Blues Festival is the biggest festival of its genre in the UK. You've missed 2016, but there's always 2017 to look forward to. This year there were 140 gigs at 13 venues across the city, filled with local and International talent. A highlight of the festival is Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket, where people head to eat and drink. It’s best to arrive early, grab an outside table, watch the acts and watch the world go by.

Greater Grassmarket

Edinburgh Art Festival (28 July – 28 August)

More than 40 of Edinburgh’s galleries, museums and pop-ups (I even came across one outside the airport) offer free entry to most of the exhibitions. Highlights this year include Tim Dodds, Susie Green, Emma Hart and Susan Mowatt: Still life with flying objects, Jo Spence at Stills Centre for Photography, Alice Neel: The Subject and Me’ at Talbot Rice Gallery and The Brownlee Brothers, Dorian Jose Braun, Paloma Proudfoot & Aniela Piasecka and Jack Saunders at Platform 2016. Many continue after the festival, so check for updates.

Edinburgh Mela (26 - 27 August 2017)

It's not actually happening this year, but as part of the festival calendar it still needs highlighting. Another lively weekend in Edinburgh, when the world performs in the city. Whatever you can think of you'll more than likely find it at the Edinburgh Mela; Ghanian drumming, Bangladeshi hip hop, capoeira, Argentine tango and so much more. It's the weekend of dance and performance and it gets lively to say the least.


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A Tale of a Festival City
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