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Edinburgh Festival is actually a suite of festivals. I think probably what most people think of now as the Edinburgh Festival is actually a fringe festival, developed as an adjunct to the Edinburgh International Festival. We now have 12 festivals running in Edinburgh, with 6 of those running concurrently during August.

August in Edinburgh is really quite a full on experience and one I would recommend if you have never done it as the festivals take over the town and spill out onto the streets. The Royal Mile is gridlocked with theatrical types giving free taster performances and short people with apparently no idea where they are going stopping suddenly (that might just be a personal experience). It is a month of dreams and the statistics on how much money many of the fringe performers spend to get here compared to what they earn in ticket sales are either frightening or testament to human creativity depending on your outlook.

The Edinburgh Art Festival runs throughout August. It has four tiers of activity. Firstly it has the commissioned works. These are artists selected by the Festival Board to create work, often site specific, for the Festival period. This year Dazzle Ship Scotland by  Ciara Phillips, sees the MV Fingal adorned with a dazzle pattern entitled ‘every woman’ celebrating the role of women during the First World War and commemorating the battle-ready ships that were docked at Leith 100 years ago. I am also looking forward to Bani Abidi’s sound installation uncovering the forgotten or ignored stories and experiences of Indian soldiers who fought in WW1 and Roddy Buchanan’s installation in a Church interviewing an Irish historian. Buchanan usually manages to give us an idiosyncratic insight into human motivations and drives with a very light authorial touch.

Next it has some major shows from its partners; this year the Fruitmarket has Damian Ortega which will be impressive I’m sure, and the Talbot Rice has Alice Neel’s haunting paintings. The Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop has Sian Robertson Davies installing some intriguing conversations between objects and concepts and my own dulcet tones will be featuring as I’m being one of the voices.

There is a platform show which is selected from an open call of recent undergraduates which will be of interest to those nearing the conclusion of their own studies, and last but not at all least there is a huge raft of activities, events and smaller shows run in association with the festival, again selected from open call.

Pretty much everything is free, and I will be running a study day to it on the 20 August so I hope to see some of you there.

Image Credit: Damian Ortega

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