Showing posts with label shows. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shows. Show all posts

Friday 30 September 2022

Edinburgh festivals 2022

Its good to see tradition and history given due regard – with the new to challenge and move things forward. We need both. Freedom to move, to express. Its important to notice the ancient history we pass, under the gawdy and tacky. So many tourists walk past so fast – but it’s the auld stories, historic buildings, that give us the authentic character. and sense of our past stories.

 And no better place to do so than historic, cobbled Edinburgh, with its steep closes and wynds, atmospheric high street, around its Mercat Cross, Signet Library, Scottish Parliament, St Giles – publishing, Reformation, enlightenment, Stewarts, and Georgian new town. 


Sunday at Biblos after my high street walk. Good to see that the buzz has returned this year. Talk Fintan OToole at EIBF, who spoke of the known and the unknown, the Ireland he’s known since 1958. Later I entered the atmospheric musical realm of Sandy Bells. I used to be here in my twenties and enjoyed fun folk nights here. 

St Giles

High street trails were once again packed with several shows and tourists. 
**St Giles  There was a lovely choral choir singing which lent an ethereal and spiritual air. 

The Writers corner – Margaret Oliphant, Robert Fergusson, Robert Louis Stephenson,

Robert Lorimer, Elsie Inglis,

St Giles cathedral was cleaned up in the 1980s and is considered the home of the Scots Presbyterian religion, and its famous minister John Knox. They were against having the Bishops hierarchy and believed everyone had their right to access the Bible and God for themselves, which all led to the War of the Three Kingdoms and education for all.

Burns memorial window

Did our genius Scots bard
 Robert Burns talk to all of Scotland and also to the world, rather than his humble beginnings in Ayrshire. In Edinburgh, where his second edition was published and very much shaped him where he seems forgotten – the Fencibles club, his memorial to the poet Robert Fergusson, attending William Creech Publishing house. 

I later discover there is now a Burns Memorial window in St Giles. In 1985 it was felt there was no central memorial to our great national bard – the window illustrates the natural world Burns loved, the middle section human unity and with a vibrant red sun of love at the top. Its easy though to walk past the window, as I did without realising. With the service for the Queen taking place here September.

Sandy Bells

This year there were several challenging shows and talks.


*Bloody Difficult Woman – about Theresa May and her clash with Gina Miller over her lack of consulting parliament over her hasty Brexit. Tim Walker’s debut drama which received good reviews and sold out performances in Edinburgh – but lacked attention in England as the extreme right seeks to suppress any Brexit negatives. Debut drama

Tim Walker - writes that in England people are starting to give up on national political discourse -  and even the idea of democracy itself. He feels regarded as an enemy of the people. He write show grateful he is for the positive recognition  of his play in Scotland. “ My gratitude to the people of Scotland is heartfelt. You still have something  very valuable – please don’t loose it.”

*BURN with Allan Cumming – on the darker more controversial side of our national bard with an emotional interpretation of the man behind the shortbread tin myths.

*Comedy- Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges

*Music - Edinburgh hosted several world class orchestras.

Scottish Sessions, Surgeons hall; Queens halls concerts, Princes street gardens gigs. 


*Edinburgh Art festival

A Taste of Impressionism at the National Galleries, explores the rich collections by Scots collectors

Michele Roberts Three women and the artist Matisse

Barbara Hepworth Exhibition

Edinburgh film festival

Children  festival – Sold out Peppa Pig orchestra, and much more.

Ocean Vuong

Omar Musa

Art college

**EIBF talks - Diana Gabaldon, Fintan Otoole, Brian Cox, Oliver Bullough, Lea Yi, Good Grief, Noam Chomsky, 

Music. PJ Harvey, Martha Wainwright, Stuart Cosgrove, 

Bigger names – Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Maggie O’Farrell

EIBF encourages us to debate, question, and look for truths, via a wide range of writers from to academics, novelists, historians, journalists, politicians, artists, poets and more. 

Some might claim Edinburgh festivals are not radical enough,


There are questions over whether Edinburgh festivals have become too big. Edinburgh festivals started in 1947 with 8 companies – by 1980 at 380, 1985 to 1,091 companies and  3,841 companies in 2019. Ticket sales down and it will be four or five year journey back

Edinburgh festivals have also suffered from overkill and overload of tourists, Sometimes quantity rather than quality. Perhaps the pandemic will mean a reset, and rethink. To streamline and reset. 

Sunshine at the Edinburgh art galleries
Edinburgh festival Shows

1973 – 184

1976 – 426

1985 – 1,091

2015 – 3,314

2019 – 3,841


Ticket sales

\1973 – 128,900

1985 – 523,000

2014 – 2,183,591

2019 – 3,012,490

Friday 31 August 2018

Edinburgh Festivals 2018!

The fields are golden, the sun getting lower and a chill begins in the evening air as the first leaves are starting to fall. 
 Its dark now late Sunday and the men are busy packing up the large tents on George street. We know the festival must end, and a normal and quieter Edinburgh return – but also the festival lifts us all higher for a short while, and makes the impossible possible, offers new horizons. 

EIF provides a glorious and golden end of summer bash each year celebrating the best of theatre, comedy, music, dance, art and much much more...Edinburgh offers a festival for all tastes – from the intellectual rigour of the book festival, its significant comedy festival, and extensive theatre.  

Under luminous skies, I entered with the book festival with a heady mix of anticipation, bolstered by the beaming exuberance , shared laughter and well rehearsed singers of the high street.  

The sometimes new and tacky mixes with the unique individual histories. Perhaps I might hope for more of the latter. Some worry Edina is turning into a Theme park and moving downmarket – do we want a Butlin’s image or to attract the more sophisticated traveller? 
Edina has a rich seam of authentic heritage - not only the deep stories of the dark rugged castle rock, but the majestic Georgian new town and the hidden alleyways below and beyond its Royal Mile. 

 There were 4.5 million ticket sales, second only to the Olympics – and this festival takes place every year; but the diversity means there is little TV coverage. From the grand Tattoo show on the castle esplanade,  the main international festival and the youthful Fringe shows and offers a platform for new theatre, 

Paris Riots 68, with Nael Ascherson
Yanis Varoufakis
Karl Ove Knaasgard
Michael Marra: Arrest This Moment
Gina Miller

**SHOWS that caught my attention
The Beggars Opera - The Kings
Mhairi Campbell, Auld Lang Syne, Storytelling centre
The Red Guitar - 
Midsummer - The Hub
Caledonian Soul - Queens hall
Ulster American - Traverse theatre

I managed a few shows, sadly not time for all.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Edinburgh festival (EIF) 2017 and Hidden Edinburgh

Hidden Edinburgh – and the footsteps I dare to walk upon. Remembered and forgotten too. I wandered there. Edinburgh exists on many levels and its easy to wander down closes or hidden alleyways or behind the castle, and under bridges and walkways.  
Festival. Meetings of people who couldn’t possibly have meet another way – people from all walks of life, nationalities, artistic disciplines and establishment and anti-establishment, and those not ‘official.’

There is the obvious tourist Edina, the castle tours, tartan taff, bagpipes, the military tattoo - yet look further underneath – the cobbled narrow lanes, and there’s an Edina, of the once bustling Mercat cross, of Scotland’s enlightenment, where once great thinkers exchanged ideas – of drinking dens, coffee houses and taverns. 

Once places like the Mercat Cross in the 18th century and the Abbotsford bar, where places for great conversations – with great poets such a Hugh MacDiarmid, Iain Crichton Smith and others.

Conversations charlotte sq rooftops
Edinburgh Fringe festival 2017! - had a Record year with over 3,500 shows
The festival Includes – The Edinburgh Tattoo, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International festival, Edinburgh international book festival and the Fringe. With 2 million 700 thousand ticket sales this year and up 9% on last year. Reduced Shakespeare, Vive La Fringe…..More than only Edinburgh, a multi-cultural festival. 

Compared to other international cities, Edina is just the right size for a major cultural celebration of all the arts. Edinburgh’s biggest festival is comedy – but there is also many other highlights of major dance, music, literature and arts events well worth exploring.

Aberdeen Aberpella
Story-telling was the way people learned about the past. EIF takes chances, is constantly moving – and a smorgasbord of difference on the global stage;
St Kilda opera, The James Plays, Grit, by Martyn Bennet, St Giles St Magnus.
‘Conflict is truth speaking to power.’  The Arts thrive on difference. In these strange times of odd ‘isms’. Reflect, produce, project.

**EIF celebrates differences on a global stage. The UK punches above it weight internationally because of Edinburgh festival and I don’t think people realise. One important theme emerges – the importance of meeting places to collaborate and discuss important issues.

*The Mercat Cross
William Creech, who was also a councillor and Baillie, was one of Edinburgh’s leading booksellers and publishers. His shop was at the Mercat Cross at the Luckenbooths, where there was seven timber -fronted tenements perched on the north side of St Giles High Kirk that included the offices of Robert Burn’s publisher, Creech and Allan Ramsay’s bookshop, which in 1728 was one of Scotland’s earliest lending libraries. From Creech’s shop door one could look down the canyon of the high st towers towards the forth and the fields of east Lothian beyond…..

A walk across Edina’s historic cobbled streets will take you past the locations for some of Scotland’s greatest writers, both past and present -  Ian Rankin, Alexander McColl Smith, Kenneth Graeme, J M Barrie, Norman MacCaig, Sorley MacLean, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Irvine Welsh, and of course Walter Scott and Robert Burns (who stayed in Lady Stairs Close on his time in Edina in 1787.

Robert McCrum Edinburgh book festival
 II   Cambridge Footlights, Opera stars, Ian McKellan and Richard Burton in Scotland. Beyond the Fringe. The Oxbridge talent of Dudley Moore, Peter Cooke, the Oxford Revue made fun of our institutions. John Cleese, Michael Palin all learned their comedy at the Fringe. Edinburgh is like a lead character. Maria Callus, Margaret Fonteyn. Edinburgh was opening things up. It began with high art and then the fringe included low art for everyone. Now the Fringe festival is by far the main event in town and the Peoples art took over the main discourse of the nation.

Sunday 9 August 2015

Edinburgh festival 2015!

The Edinburgh Fringe and the official Edinburgh International festival have started now in August and I look forward to going over for my yearly visit soon - to enjoy the fun buzz and entertainment of the high street, the shows, exhibitions and much much more…
I grew up in with Edinburgh festival and looked on it as a normal event – with no idea until I was older that it was such a massive festival attracting visitors worldwide.

The mix of shows, the arts festival and mostly the Edinburgh International book festival - which hosts the many respected writers; novelists, poets, journalists, comedians, musicians, illustrators and children’s authors and more. Edinburgh festival will be as big and bold as ever! Edinburgh is my hometown so I always enjoy visiting its cobbled streets and strong sense of its historic and cultural past. 
The festival is brilliant, sassy, innovative, creative, all encompassing, extreme, highly visual - from the highest quality choral evening, the silliest fringe show, the thrill of scary acrobatics, informed talks, the daftest comedy to the beauty of singing or dance. Check out reviews Scotsman.