Exploring Edinburgh, the Festival City

Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 9:18 AM

Having spent a year in the city, I can tell you that Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, is the place to be right now.

For 60 years, Edinburgh has held the world's largest and most diverse arts festival during the late summer period. You can experience all kinds of culture, in all kinds of settings. Here's my personal tour through the city, using Book Search to light the way.

If you were there right now, you'd see Edinburgh transformed into a giant celebration, with half a dozen festivals taking place at the same time, including the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Fair, and the Festival Fringe, to name just a few. You could see your favorite Shakespeare play performed in any style imaginable, in venues ranging from elaborate theaters to the cobbled streets of Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe always thrills me. It was founded by a number of theater companies that had been rejected from the main Edinburgh festival. They started the "Fringe" in defiance, but now it's the world's premiere festival of performing arts, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world each year. I've been lucky enough to be included in this group -- last year, I managed to get tickets for some very funny comedies, as well as several street dance acts. I'm already queuing to see if I can make it to the Edinburgh Tattoo next year!

If you're not taking in the hottest new play or enjoying an energetic street performance, there are still heaps of places to visit when in Edinburgh. If you ever find yourself standing on Princes Street or strolling up Cowgate, don't forget to wander past Edinburgh's Castle Rock, Carlton Hill, or to visit the statue of Greyfriers Bobby, where you can hear the moving tale of a little dog's unending loyalty to its deceased master. If you want to take a break, why not enjoy a coffee in the inspiring Elephant House Cafe, where J.K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book? I also recommend taking a walk around the different districts of Edinburgh. If you listen carefully, you might pick up on the argot that Irvine Welsh so brilliantly transcribed in his acclaimed novel Trainspotting.

As fun as it is to read about Edinburgh, I hope you can make it there in person. From haggis to kilts to deep-fried Mars bars, I guarantee you that this magical city has much to offer that you'll never forget.


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