A day in Edinburgh during "The Fringe"

August 18, 2017

"The Fringe began in 1947 when eight groups arrived in Edinburgh hoping to perform at the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival but were refused entry. Rather than being discouraged from performing, they went ahead and performed on the fringe of the Festival anyway and so the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was born.  2017 marks the 70th anniversary of these eight groups' defiance and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is now the largest arts festival in the world.  The Fringe is a truly open access festival where, in the spirit of the original eight, no one is denied entry, making it the largest platform on earth for creative freedom."  


What it really is is a huge mass of people - performers handing out leaflets so you will go to their shows, artists doing small performances on the streets, vendors selling their wares, and then all us poor, unsuspecting "tourists" walking around gawking at all the noise and excitement..  The place to be is the Royal Mile, where the streets are blocked off and the crowds really gather.  I normally don't like to go into crowds, but with my trusty camera in hand, there was so much action to "shoot", it was a lot of fun.  


One of the biggest attractions is a nightly performance at the Edinburgh Castle up on the hill called the Military Tattoo.   This is a performance which includes bagpipe and drum bands, and it also embraces different themes; nature, creativity and Scotland's homecoming are just some of the concepts explored in recent times.


The term "tattoo" derives from a 17th-century Dutch phrase doe den tap toe ("turn off the tap") a signal to tavern owners each night, played by a regiment's Corps of Drums, to turn off the taps of their ale kegs so that the soldiers would retire to their billeted lodgings at a reasonable hour. With the establishment of modern barracks and full military bands later in the 18th century, the term "tattoo" was used to describe the last duty call of the day, as well as a ceremonial form of evening entertainment performed by military musicians.


We won't be able to go to the Tattoo this year, but each night we can hear the fireworks that are shot off at the end of every performance.  Next year!


As well as walking the Royal Mile and seeing all those sights, we took a stroll up to Greyfriar's Church, which has an interesting history.  It is actually most famous for Greyfriar's Bobby - a little dog who supposedly sat at his owner's grave for 14 years after he died.  You can read more about the story here - BOBBY.  As well as the little doggie, the old graveyard of the church is now known as one of the places in which JK Rowling walked about and came up with some of the names for her Harry Potter books - notably Professor McGonagall and Thomas Riddle (spelled differently on the grave marker).


Speaking of Harry Potter - we saw the cafe - The Elephant House - where JK Rowling spent most of her time while writing the series.  You have to make reservations to go in, but we did the requisite tourist photos out front.


For me, no trip to Edinburgh would be complete without a visit to Mary's Milk Bar for delicious, hand- made- every -day gelato.   On our way we saw more sights, and stopped off in a couple of fun stores that I saw last year.  There is also, just down the street form Mary's, a Cat Cafe, where you can reserve a cat to keep you company while you have your coffee and treats.


One thing I've learned over the last couple of weeks is how to ride the bus.  I was hesitant to even do so, because my only experience with city buses was in San Francisco, and that's an experience I would never want to revisit.  Yuck!  However, the Edinburgh buses are great, and it's fun that the ones we take are double deckers.  Everyone even thanks the bus driver as they get off at their stop.  It sure beats driving in the city when it is so crowded from the activities all the month of August!


Again, I'm not a city girl, but I'm beginning to fall in love with Edinburgh.  I look forward to moving (in two weeks - yeah!) to North Berwick and visiting Edinburgh often. 






Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload