So many people arrived in Edinburgh as just another fringe performer and are now household names. Edinburgh in August is a melting pot of talent and the best place to network on the planet if you work in theatre and the arts. Edinburgh Fringe creates fame and the Edinburgh International Festival showcases the best of the world’s culture. These two titans spawned others and Edinburgh’s become the cultural and intellectual capital of Great Britain. We now have over twelve internationally renowned festivals taking place in the city every year.
I did a production of ‘Journey’s End,’ an RC Sherriff play about World War I, at the Edinburgh Festival. I was 18 and it was the first time that people I knew and loved and respected came up to me after the show and said, ‘You know, you could really do this if you wanted to.
After the world came back from the brink of a precipice during the Second World War, the Edinburgh International Festival started in 1947 as a celebration of humanity and as a way to heal the horrors of the war years. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Film Festival started in the same year too and Edinburgh was a very different place then with only a handful of restaurants. The perennial success every summer ever since has led to Edinburgh becoming the go-to city for festival-hosting. Festivals are in our blood now – an intrinsic part of our DNA and now events are happening all year round, delighting visitors and locals alike. Edinburgh richly deserves its reputation as being world renowned for its excellence in culture, art and science.
I owe a great deal to Harold Hobson, doyen drama critic of the ‘U.K. Sunday Times,’ who championed me as Shakespeare’s Richard II at the 1969 Edinburgh Festival.
In Edinburgh even New Year is a festival – Hogmanay. This is followed by the Edinburgh International Science Festival in April, Imaginate Festival in May and the Edinburgh International Film Festival and Festival of Cycling in June. In July there’s the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival and the Magic Festival. The Edinburgh Art Festival, Royal Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival light up the city in August and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival happens in October. Along the way there are festivals celebrating coffee, gin, chocolate, Burns, beer and tango – to mention just a few. There’s no doubt that Edinburgh loves a festival like no other city on earth.