“There’s no leaving Edinburgh, No shifting it around: it stays with you, always.”
- Alan Bold
We came for the Fringe Festival, but we were enchanted by so much more. Edinburgh is truly one of the most magical cities in all of Europe, possibly the entire world. From the beautiful castles, atop lush green hills, the incredibly friendly locals, to the legacy of J.K.Rowling and Harry Potter, this city has so much to see. Oh and yeah, and they have this little drink known as whiskey ;)
There is so much to see in Edinburgh but, for us, this weekend was all about the Fringe Festival, the largest performing arts festival in the world. For those that do not know the history of the Fringe Festival, it began exactly 70 years ago. Eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to the, then, International Festival. Since they could not perform within the festival itself, they decided to perform on the outskirts, or “fringes”, of the festival. And thus, a legacy was born and each year millions attend from all over the world to watch a range of artists including dancers, musicians, comedians, magicians and many others. During such time, the vibe of the city is truly spectacular.
Walking through the streets of Edinburgh, you cannot help but feel the magic of the Fringe in every street corner. Along the streets you see everything from guitar shredding buskers to flame throwing unicyclists.
The official festival itself has a variety of both free and paid shows. Pro tip: for anyone planning to visit the Fringe next year: Firstly, make sure that you factor in to account the time taken to get from one end of town to the other. Edinburgh is a very hilly city, and there are shows all over the city, so it can sometimes take up to 20 minutes to walk from one location to another. Secondly, keep in mind that for free shows, the performers are still trying to raise money and will definitely ask for donations at the end of the show. So be sure to carry some cash with you to the shows.
Not wanting this to be a review of the festival itself, I will not go into detail about each specific show we saw, but I have to mention a few shows that stood out for us.
The first was a magician called Ben Hart. Combining gripping storytelling with swift sleight of hand, he had us all spellbound for the entire hour. Definitely worth every cent! Not to mention, whilst waiting for the show to begin, we happened to run in to Mark Gaitis (a.k.a. Mycroft from Sherlock Holmes).
The second was a show called Fagin’s Twist, a hip-hop dance drama adaptation of Oliver’s Twist, put on by the Avant Garden Dance Company. Having never seen a hip-hop dance drama before, I was not really sure what to expect. However, I was captivated from the first second. The way that the hip hop choreography was infused with enthralling dialogue and seemingly effortless set changes had me totally mesmerised.
The final show that I want to mention was comedy-magic show, by Paul Dobric. With his wit and wizardry he had as going from cracking laughter to silent awe in the matter of seconds.
Aside from the Fringe, the other thing that was taking place that weekend was the much anticipated boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. After our initial plan, of staying up and watching it live at a bar in Edinburgh was stymied by the fact that most places within walking distance were not showing the fight, we decided to opt for plan B. What was plan B? Plan B was waiting until Sunday morning and downloading the fight and walking through the streets with a selfie-stick watching the fight. After 4 or 5 rounds (which we watched in between Fringe shows), we decided that we wanted to find a quiet bar and sit down to watch it. In doing so, we stumbled upon a secret Gin Bar, called 56 North. Having finished watching the fight, we took some time to enjoy some fantastic gin cocktails, some yummy food and chilled out in the garden before heading back out to enjoy the festival.
Finally, we could not come to Scotland without trying haggis and whiskey. For Haggis, we went to a small restaurant called Howies, which incidentally also happened to be next to a famous Harry Potter paraphernalia store called Diagon House (double tick!!). As for the Haggis itself, it reminded me a bit of a pastry-less shepherds pie, but we both definitely enjoyed it. For vegetarians, Howies also serve a vegetarian haggis.
For the whiskey, we chose the aptly named, Whiski Bar and Restaurant. Now although, this was not meant to be an official whiskey tour of Scotland (don’t worry, that is definitely on the cards too!), we wanted to try a range of different Scottish whiskeys. We chose a menu item called, the Whiskey Flight, featuring four different whiskeys from different parts of Scotland. For those, like me, just getting into Whiskeys, this is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the different flavours from the various regions of Scotland.
We both thoroughly recommend visiting Edinburgh, especially during the Fringe. It was an incredible weekend, and honestly the only downside for us, was how quickly it went.
We did not get time to visit the castle, the museums, do the Harry Potter trail and many of the other things that Edinburgh has to offer. Oh well! I guess that just means we will have to come back to Edinburgh again!!! And don’t worry, we definitely will :)
Love, S & V