The Edinburgh Festival may be in full swing but the Scottish capital is currently making headlines for altogether very different reasons. Edinburgh Zoo reports that its female giant panda, Tian Tian, one of only two in the UK, is showing ‘strong indications’ that she is pregnant which if is the case, would make it the first baby giant panda to be born in the UK. Delivery is scheduled between 24th August and 10th September so all eyes are on Tian Tian to make history.
Returning to festival matters, if comedy and fringe events aren’t necessarily your thing, then festival season in Edinburgh really does have something to offer everyone. This year’s Edinburgh International Festival, the oldest of all the city’s festivals, has a central theme of technology, looking at how it has changed art and performance and the programme’s extensive repertoire brings together a fascinating and exhilarating ensemble of acts and performances from the worlds of classical music, theatre, opera and dance.
Until August 24th meanwhile, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place on the Esplanade against the magnificent backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, featuring fascinating musical and marching performances from across the British Armed Services including the Massed Pipes and Drums, the Band of the Irish Guards, The Band and Bugles of the Rifles and The Royal Logistic Corps. Weekday performances take place at 9pm whilst Saturday shows begin at 7.30pm and 10.30pm (no performances on Sundays).
Running until 1st September is the Edinburgh Art Festival, now in its 10th year, featuring an array of acts from the modern and contemporary visual arts world. With some 50 exhibitions taking place in more than 30 venues across the city, this year’s programme is said to be its most ambitious and includes solo exhibitions by world-class artists such as Mexican artist, Gabriel Orozco, as well as choral performances by the Edinburgh Complaints Choir. There’s also a weekly musical ‘interlude’ as performed on a specially-commissioned organ, Wind Pipes for Edinburgh, built from hundreds of pieces of decommissioned instruments.
Last but not least, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, this year celebrating its 30th anniversary, runs until August 26th and is set in a tented village amidst the Georgian splendour of Charlotte Square Gardens. One of the world’s longest running book festivals, this year’s line-up includes some 700 readings, interviews and debates and looks back over three decades of Scottish creativity and political change, in particular celebrating key literary landmarks such as Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting and works by Iain Banks. Key names appearing include Salman Rushdie, Kate Mosse, Andrew Marr, Roddy Doyle, Ian Rankin, Simon Sebag Montefiore and Margaret Attwood.
So whether you have a passion for pandas or a penchant for military marching bands, love a laugh or are more of a literary connoisseur, simply put, there’s no better time of year for an Edinburgh city break!