A Plethora of Scottish Culture
Every August this conservative city morphs into center stage for a world-class extravaganza of music, drama, dance, and alternative entertainment. Having recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, the Edinburgh International Festival has long been drawing first-rank names and talents. Gamering as much attention is the Fringe, the festival’s amateur offshoot, where you can expect the unexpected from more than 650 diamond-in-the-rough troupes from all over the world, performing in 150-plus venues, from beer halls to school gyms.
The Fringe is now the largest arts festival in the world, with no artistic vetting, and therefore open to anyone with a wish to perform. The nighttime performance of the Military Tattoo (the name comes from the closing-time cry “doe den tap toe” in Low Country inns during the 17th and 18th centuries, meaning “turn off the taps”) is possibly the world’s most outstanding military spectacle, augmented by its dramatic setting on a castle esplanade. The pipe-and-drum music and display of gymnastic skill may not be high art, but it’s great entertainment.
And if all this is not enough, the annual Edinburgh Film Festival (now the longest continually running film festival in the world) and Jazz and Blues Festivals add to the cultural logjam. Tickets for the principal performances should be bought in advance, but with such abundant choices, one can show up empty-handed and still be guaranteed a wonderful time, especially if you’re still around for the last night’s spectacular fireworks.