Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe has reached the grand old age of 70 and this year’s offerings are even bigger and better than before with well over 3,000 shows in the Fringe alone which has outgrown its sister the Festival.

Almost 2 weeks in Auld Reekie is already buzzing with the city in full swing and the annual influx of visitors from all over – even Glasgow.

It’s a mammoth task to choose which shows to see with so much on offer from international and homegrown touring companies, ensembles and personalities and the city does get very busy so be sure to factor in extra travel/pub stop time.

In the year that Trainspotting 2 triumphed, Leith’s very own Irvine Welsh brings three shows to the Fringe, Creatives a pop opera about a songwriting competition set in his adopted city of Chicago and co-written with Don De Grazia is on at the Pleasance Courtyard, and Performers premieres at the Assembly rooms. This is a black comedy which is set in London’s swinging sixties is a collaboration with Welsh’s long time buddy Dean Cavanagh. Trainspotting Live will be rebooted and performed in a tunnel under the Edinburgh International Conference Centre – seems appropriate.

Going slightly more upmarket, New Waverley the award-winning development linking Waverley Station to the Royal Mile hosts the Edinburgh Cocktail festival daily until 11 pm. Running till August 28th this pop up will showcase serves from some of the best names in the alcohol industry – from homegrown brands to internationally recognised names. Experience the festival before anyone else and try your hand at one of our masterclasses, including the Ketel One Kitchen, Tanqueray 10 Gin Forest and Love Scotch: Make Yourself @ Home. Not only that, but they’ll have first class street food provided by our friends at the Food + Flea Market, including The Pitt, Barnacles & Bones and The Buffalo Truck; plus live entertainment all night long.

The wonderfully titled Would You Want Your Daughter to Marry a Weegie? at Broughton Street Lane is a solo show from Robin Cairns which features Malcom from Morningside getting all hot under the collar as his daughter intends to wed a weegie ned.

Trashed a play about a bin man hitting rock bottom is on daily at Underbelly.

The play A Field of Our Own at Easter Road is of historical interest as well as a must for the faithful Hibees and will tell the story Hibernian FC founded in 1875, by a group of refugees.

Well-known television names this year include Sue Perkins Live! In Spectacles, fresh from her bake off debacle and returning to her stand up roots for four performances at the Pleasance Courtyard.

 

Pulp front man Jarvis Cocker teams up with pianist and composer Chilly Gonzalez in the show Room 29 at the King’s Theatre from Aug 22-24, about the infamous LA hotel room which variously accommodated Jim Morrison, Johnny Depp and John Belushi. Cocker and Gonzalez have put together a song cycle which is fairly far removed from Pulp’s Britpop background.

This is definitely a pick of the festival if you like chamber music and don’t mind watching Jarvis lounge around on a bed.

 

There are plenty of Scottishy things in this year’s programme former Late Late show presenter, son of Cumbernauld Craig Ferguson who made the big time Stateside.In his return to the Fringe where he cut his teeth in stand up as Bing Hitler, Ferguson will be hosting his live US radio show from the Gilded Balloon from Aug 14-18. This is one for the night owls and kicks off at 10.45 with surprise guests and phone-ins from the US listeners.

The BBC will be presenting The Arts Hour on Tour from their Edinburgh studios as part of the World Service. This special show, hosted by Nikki Bedi, will feature top actors, filmmakers, comedians and musicians who live in Edinburgh or have adopted the city during the Festivals.

There will be plenty of entertainment on the streets too from jugglers, fire eaters, knife throwers and assorted acrobats and buskers.

If you are around the Grassmarket you might catch Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour featuring spontaneous flash mobs around local landmarks.

IMAGE: The List

The all year round Book Lovers’ Tour visits the sites and haunts of Edinburgh’s literary legends: Burns, Scott, Stevenson, Conan Doyle, Barrie, Rankin, Rowling and others, with Allan Foster, author of Book Lovers’ Edinburgh: A Pilgrim’s Guide.

There is plenty for the kids too. A Children’s Underground Ghost Tour leaves from City of Edinburgh Tours near Waverley where participants can join Mingin’ Annie from Edinburgh’s past and find out what it is like to have lived under Edinburgh for 400 years.

A general rule of thumb is that the Fringe Shows tend to be more reasonably priced than the bigger venued Festival draws. However, for those wanting to save a bob or two, there is also plenty of “free stuff.” Scottish stand-up Janey Godley who Glasgow’s own big yin, now Sir Billy Connolly described as “a f***ing great comedian” performs at the Three Sisters for free. Also, she stars with her daughter Ashley Storey in the only mother and daughter comedy podcast in the world on August 12 at Freemasons Hall on George Street.

Another comedy highlight is Jo Caulfield’s Older. Wiser. Smarter. Meaner show at the Stand. Jo loves Edinburgh so much she moved to the city and recently recalled her first festival in 2001 when she witnessed a drunk guy urinating on her poster!

Whoever thought Edinburgh in August was all about gazing at the sun setting on the mound as luvvies air kiss under the castle was wrong, and by the way, don’t forget your brollies and your shades.

Words: Pauline Taylor & GlasgowLiving