The Edinburgh Festival is actually several festivals. Since 1947, the International Festival has been an annual forum for the finest music and drama from around the world. Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which grew up around it, ranges from student Am Dram to accomplished world premieres. The book, film and jazz festivals are sophisticated yet unpretentious and the TV festival is more of a media trade fair.
Edinburgh International Festival (15 August-5 September; 0131 473 2001; www.eif.co.uk). France and Germany dominate this year’s theatre highlights – the Berliner Ensemble’s production of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, and Olivier Py’s epic production of Paul Claudel’s The Satin Slipper for the Centre Dramatique National at Orleans,
For a blend of Gallic and Teutonic, try the Berlin Schaubiihne’s rendition of Racine’s Andromache. There is even more Franco-German detente on the opera front, with Hanover State Opera’s production of Debussy’s Pelleas & Melisande, but not every show is French or German. Dance treats include Rambert Dance Company’s first
appearance at the festival for nearly 20 years, in Mahler And Dance, with music from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and a programme of works by British choreographer Antony Tudor, performed by Ballet West from Salt Lake City.
? Edinburgh Festival Fringe (8-25 August;
0131 226 0026; www.edfringe.com).
With so many shows to choose from, you’re almost better off backing venues. The Traverse Theatre is odds-on favourite for pioneering Scottish and international theatre; the Pleasance is your best bet for comedy; and the Assembly Rooms is reliable banker for a bit of both. The biggest free event is Fringe Sunday on 15 August. Held on The Meadows, one of the city’s largest and prettiest public parks, it’s an ideal way to round off a weekend at the Festival, but don’t get lost in the crowd -200,000 people went along last year.