by Paula Smith
Like many locals I avoided, I reflected then I eventually ventured. I was reminded of how the inconvenience of there being no seats on the bus is actually a small price to pay to experience the absolute wonder of the Edinburgh Festival. Our beautiful vibrant and cosmopolitan city more than doubles in population during these three weeks and no wonder when you consider what is on offer: dance, theatre, film and art to name but a few of the kind of performances available to see. There are twelve major annual festivals in Edinburgh.
What are the origins of this amazing festival? – Why is Edinburgh at the heart of the world’s largest arts festival? Back in 1947 the idea for the festival came about by the inspiration of Rudolf Bing, the general manager of Glyndebourne Opera and Henry Harvey Wood, head of the British council in Scotland. So successful was their idea that we are now celebrating sixty nine years of this major world class event. Along with the first Edinburgh International festival there were some uninvited guests who went on to perform and were greatly appreciated. This was to mark the beginning of the Fringe festival also.
In 1958 the ‘Festival fringe society’ was formed in response to the success achieved during ten years. This is a registered charity, which has many roles including providing advice, support and encouragement. Also, information about ticketing and promotion all over the world! Many acts perform their debut or get discovered at Edinburgh. As one performer from the States mentioned, Edinburgh is a bit like a playground where they practice and experiment, then if the time is right they will make the ‘big bucks’ back in the states. This is not to belittle Edinburgh but rather it is seen as a place of safety where they can be uninhibited and not charge sky-high prices for tickets.
Edinburgh festival does not have to be a pricey affair as there is plenty on offer at the fringe on the Royal Mile. ‘James’ the magician welcomes tourists and locals alike, and claims he does not do the magic but that the magic is provided by people coming together to watch him as a street artist. Obviously he is charming the audience but there is a certain truth in what he is saying. The streets of Edinburgh are taken over by people of all shapes, sizes, ethnic groups and colours. Everyone blends in to our openhearted and generous city and if you are in a certain frame of mind it feels awesome to swarm like honey bees in a comb rather than to feel like squashed sardines.
Everything feels rather positive about the festival and as it has been said several times the ‘buzz’ this year is great. It offers us plenty but what does it take from us apart from space? It is hard to think of anything but a recent article had someone suggesting that Glasgow should get a turn to host the festival. What? Am I hearing correctly, I thought! It is not a sporting event. The Edinburgh festival is just that – the Edinburgh festival. The two go together and there is no getting away from it. So whether you are a scheduler and know exactly what you want to view or if you are a wanderer on a budget, there is something for everyone. Just walk along the Royal mile and collect some flyers. What a choice. Actually must dash, there is only a week left of this extraordinary festival to indulge in.