Type 'Edinburgh' into Google and among the first results you'll get will be mention of some festival or other. But the Edinburgh Festival as a definitive description is actually a bit of a misnomer; there is no such thing as THE Edinburgh Festival, rather we have a number of festivals which run throughout the year, climaxing in what I often generally describe as 'festival season' over the summer, when a number of these individual festivals overlap and conjoin to give the city's its infamous festival spirit and atmosphere.
Here's a short idiots' guide to help untangle the different festival experiences on offer in the city...
Edinburgh International Festival
Originally THE definitive Edinburgh Festival, what is now Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) was founded in the aftermath of World War II, in 1947, to provide a collective and collaborative platform for creativity and artistic endeavour. Today the Festival is a curated (ie. by invitation) series of predominantly classical performances from a collection of dance, theatre, music and opera companies from all around the globe. The EIF runs during August each year, and culminates with a spectacular live fireworks concert staged in Princes Street Gardens, with fireworks let off from Edinburgh Castle.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
NOT the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (haircuts, anyone?!), the Fringe - as it is popularly known - also began in 1947, when eight theatre companies who weren't invited to take part in the EIF turned up in the city for a number of impromptu performances. Over the years the number of companies taking part in the Fringe has soared, and today the Fringe (by itself) the world's largest arts festival. The Fringe programme is completely open-access and non-curated, meaning anyone who has the means to produce and stage a production is welcome to bring their work to Edinburgh during August; hundreds of venues across the city host thousands of performances every single day. Today the Fringe is known as a hotbed of creative talent, and many major comedians, actors, theatre companies and musicians have launched their careers by getting noticed at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Also held during August each year, the Book Festival invites authors from around the world to talk about their work, sign copies of books, and take part in discussions around a range of literary themes. The Festival is held in a series of specially constructed marquees in Charlotte Square in Edinburgh's New Town.
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Currently held in June each year (it has previously taken place in August) the Film Festival is a curated collection of new and classic films, featuring guest appearances by a range of actors, directors and cinema icons.
These are the main cultural festivals for which Edinburgh is known, but we also host a variety of additional festivals throughout the year, including (but not limited to):
and plenty more besides! We have festivals for food, festivals for drink, festivals for historical figures associated with the city, festivals for a range of outdoor pursuits - you name it, we (probably) have a festival for it! And if we don't.... then there's a valuable gap in the market!
See this festival city in more detail with my private city tours!
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