TORONTO — For the festival city of Edinburgh, celebrating the arts is a year-round affair and in 2017, the Edinburgh Festivals will celebrate its 70th anniversary.
Since 1947 this Scottish city has focused on the arts as a way to promote conversation with artists and performers from around the world. Created two years after the end of World War II, Edinburgh’s festivals were a way for people to reconnect from across Europe.
“It was a leap of the imagination after World War II,” explained Julia Amour, director of Festivals Edinburgh. “Back then it was orchestras and theatres of Europe that came together to further the ties of artistic communities. Now it is all forms of performing arts disciplines such as experimental theatre and performance poetry as well as well-known comedians, authors and actors.”
As a city with two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Edinburgh combines its gothic and medieval old town with its newer neoclassical Georgian architecture, forming a city that has many points of pride, including the highest number of restaurants per capita in the UK and several Michelin-starred dining establishments as well.
Edinburgh devotes the month of August to the arts, with the Edinburgh International Festival welcoming over 2,000 artists from around the world, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest festival in the world, whose influence has led to the creation of fringe festivals around the world, including all the fringe festivals held every summer in cities across Canada.
In 2012 the Edinburgh Fringe Festival created the Fringe World Congress to welcome Fringe Festivals from around the world to discuss their creative processes and encourage the growth of existing and new fringe festivals. This week the Fringe World Congress will be held in Montreal, hosting 60 fringe festival organizations from around the world.
“It has always been the goal to bring the people of the world together through the arts,” explains Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. “We hope to welcome many fringe festivals from around the world to come celebrate our 70th anniversary next August.”
During the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, over 3,000 shows are scheduled during the month of August, including 800 shows that offer free admission.
With 1,000 performances daily during the festival, the number of tickets sold are on par with the frenzy of the World Cup and second to the Olympic Games. Events can be found everywhere from established venues to unusual places like storefronts to cafes that reinvent into performance spaces.
Hogmanay, Scotland’s New Year’s festival, has always been a popular event to attend for visitors to Edinburgh, with 60% of the 75,000 attendees coming from outside Scotland. Edinburgh is also home to the first science festival in the world (Edinburgh International Science Festival) as well as the oldest continuously run film festival (Edinburgh International Film Festival), started by John Grierson, who coined the term ‘documentary’ and was instrumental in the creation of the National Film Board of Canada.
Held every August to great acclaim, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has always been a popular festival, especially for Canadians. In 2017 the event will focus on celebrating the clans. Meanwhile the world’s largest book festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, will welcome over 800 participants in the same time period, with Edinburgh proud to be recognized as the first UNESCO City of Literature.
For visitors who want to plan a trip to Edinburgh, the Festivals Edinburgh website acts as a gateway for the numerous festivals year-round, providing detailed information on how to plan a trip to participate in any festival at edinburghfestivalcity.com.