SPRING 2012 THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE EDINBURGH FESTIVALS
FESTIVALS MAGA ZINE
FLIGHTS OF FANCY Explore the Imaginate Festival
IN THIS ISSUE:
Food for thought The science of just about everything
Spring selection Edinburgh VIPs let us in on their secrets
Everyone’s a winner Edinburgh’s Festivals in 2012
All About Science From eating and drinking to movement, the arts and the world around, explore what Science means to you.
FESTIVALS MAGA ZINE SPRING 2012
CONTENTS Director’s Letter - Going For Gold Surprising Spring in Edinburgh Science Festival Light Fantastic Reel Life Imaginative Festival Q&A - Tony Reekie Spring Selection Festivals Go For Gold Just For Laughs Jewels in the Crown Festival Calendar
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Surprising Spring Discover Edinburgh’s secret side.
Festival Calendar Whatâ€™s on in Edinburgh
Reel Life Chris Fujiwara uncovered.
Free Your Mind
Explore relationships, childhood and self expression at the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival.
Just For Laughs Explore the science of humour.
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DIRECTOR’S LETTER - GOING FOR GOLD
going for gold A welcome from Festivals Edinburgh director Faith Liddell
ong before Edinburgh became synonymous with festivals, the city was known as the cradle of the Enlightenment. Here in the 18th century, some of the greatest minds of their day developed ideas that would change the world. There was Adam Smith, the father of modern economics and David Hume, the groundbreaking philosopher, as well as novelist Walter Scott, poet Robert Burns, artist Henry Raeburn and geologist James Hutton. There were many others besides, prompting the French philosopher Voltaire to say:
“We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.” Edinburgh is proud of this contribution and, to this day, it seeks to make its influence felt on world culture through its 12 yearround festivals. Many of these have “international” in their titles and every one is international in outlook. You don’t have to take our word for it. Just look to the United Arab Emirates where, in November 2011, the Edinburgh International Science Festival helped organise the inaugural Abu Dhabi Science Festival, an event that attracted 100,000 people over its nine-day run. The Scottish team used the triedand-tested model that is such a success in Edinburgh every spring when adults and children celebrate the wonders of science, nature and technology.
This year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival, one of the largest of its kind in Europe, will be no different. The speakers at this two-week Easter event are among the leading names in their field and congregate on the Scottish capital from all over the world. The same is true of the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival which, for seven days in May, attracts children’s theatre companies from Australia, Sweden, Italy, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands as well as England and Scotland. No child in Edinburgh should grow up without an awareness of global culture. Neither should the thousands of movie buffs who flock to the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June – the oldest continuously running event of its kind in the world. In this, the year of the London Olympics, the Edinburgh festivals have more reason than ever to look to the world stage. In the summer months, the city will be offering its usual generous welcome to international visitors, many of whom will be calling in to the city in between the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. Edinburgh, though, is a city that goes for gold every month of the year and we look forward to giving you the best of times – and the best of festivals – whenever you arrive.
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springtime surprises Discovering Edinburgh’s secret side There are few cities as easy as Edinburgh to get your bearings. Thanks to its ancient volcanic geology, the city guides the first-time visitor naturally to its most famous points of interest. If you’re in the city centre and, for example, you want to visit Edinburgh Castle, all you have to do is raise your head and you’ll see it, perched at the top of the Old Town, dominating the skyline. Along with Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat, two more central peaks, it helps you get a speedy sense of where everything is. Many of the most popular tourist attractions will follow naturally from there, whether it’s the department stores of Princes Street, the Palace of Holyroodhouse or the Camera Obscura.
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But if it’s a crisp spring day, with a clear Scottish sky and a fresh breeze blowing in from across the Firth of Forth, you may well be ready for a more adventurous journey through this beautiful city. Here’s a route you could try, in whole or in part, that may bring some surprises your way. Our starting point is the Balmoral Hotel on the North Bridge, the road that links the Old Town and New Town. Walking away from Princes Street, you’ll have thrilling views in every direction to Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill, the Scott Monument and Edinburgh Castle. On the other side of the bridge, the first building on your right is the Scotsman Hotel. Its entrance is set back off the road: as you approach it, you’ll see a staircase descending on your right.
Martin Creed’s Work No. 1059: The Scotsman Steps
These are the Scotsman Steps and, thanks to artist Martin Creed, every one of them is made from a slab of marble from a different quarry around the world. As you walk down, the effect is beguiling. It feels like a real discovery. Emerging onto Market Street, you may wish to spend time in the Fruitmarket Gallery or the City Art Centre – both with major exhibitions as well as attractive cafes and shops. Next, take a shortcut through Waverley Station – the side entrance is just to the right of the Fruitmarket Gallery. Cut straight through and emerge onto Princes Street via the Waverley Steps, which are newly kitted out with escalators.
Cross the road and, a little to your right, go onto West Register Street, then the pedestrian footpath that takes you past the Café Royal Circle Bar. Pop your head in for a look at the fabulous ceiling, tiled portraits and mahogany carvings around the large circular bar. There’s another fabulous ceiling just round the corner on St Andrew Square in the central branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland; you’ll see this ceiling’s star design on certain bank notes. Continue heading north, passing the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on your left, across Queen Street and onto Dublin Street, drinking in the cool Georgian elegance of the New Town as you go. Passing the private gardens of Drummond Place, you reach Scotland Street, famous for lending its name to Alexander McCall
Smith’s popular series of novels poking gentle fun at the area’s well-to-do residents. Near the bottom of the road, take the steep path down into King George V Park where, over to your right, you’ll find a former railway tunnel. Walk through this and you’ll eventually reach a network of footpaths that follow the route of the Water of Leith. Depending which path you take, you can get all the way to Leith, Granton, the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Dean Gallery, and even Balerno, eight miles away. In most cases, there will be a bus to get you back again. On a fresh spring day, these paths bring a peaceful rural air to the heart of Edinburgh, a city of constant contrast and surprise. WWW.EDIN B URGHFESTIVA LS. C O. UK
food for thought Discover the physics behind running, dancing and eating
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Stand-up comedy? Photography? Five-course meals? None of these are what you’d expect to find in the Edinburgh International Science Festival, but all of them are part of a programme that goes out of its way to surprise.
and dance. “There’s a surprising amount of science underlying most sports, everything from nutrition to looking at peak performance and the technology involved in training and tracking people,” she says.
“If you were to stop 100 people in the street and ask them if they were interested in science, a large proportion would probably say no,” says Amanda Tyndall, deputy festival director. “But if you ask them if they’re interested in medicine, technology, the environment or weather, they’d probably say yes.”
As well as InMotion, a major exhibition in the National Museum of Scotland supported by the Scottish Government’s expo fund, there is a series of events looking at human movement. In one session, leading psychologists ask whether sporting success depends on thinking like a winner. In another there’s a look at how nanotechnology in fabrics can help athletes. Another still considers the body’s genetic, physiological, biochemical and psychological limits.
That’s the governing principle in a packed twoweek Easter programme that brings together not only major names in science, such as Edinburgh Medal winner James Hansen, but also celebrities better known for comedy, such as Robin Ince, and experts in fields as diverse as literature and sport. “You only need to pick up the paper to see many of the most pressing issues have some basis in science,” says Tyndall.
“Our definition of science is a very broad one.” The line-up for the 2012 event is based on five themes. Prominent among them is the science of athletics. This being the year of the London Olympics, the festival is taking its own distinctive view of movement, motion, sport
“There are a couple of events by Dr Peter Lovatt, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, who does a lot of work on what extent your hormones and levels of testosterone affect the way that you dance and how attractive that makes you to the opposite sex,” says Tyndall. “One of his events will have a dancer as part of it.” That’s one example of the entertaining overlap with many of the other festivals in Edinburgh. As with sport, we often think of art and science as unrelated, but the connections are plentiful. The “art and science” line-up includes dance, poetry, spoken word, film, photography and art. You can consider the “mad” heroines of literature in terms
of modern psychiatry and listen to an evening of stand-up comedy performed by moonlighting academics. As a counterbalance to so many apocalyptic headlines, the “earth and environment” strand takes a positive approach to the challenges of climate change, championing the innovations as well as sounding the warning bells. “Any science festival has a responsibility to pick up on some of the biggest issues – and climate and the environment are undoubtedly that,” says Tyndall. “But not every element of it needs to be weighty and terrifying. We’re collaborating with Greener Scotland and the focus is on tips for going green – manageable information that people can take on as part of their everyday life – as well as having hard-hitting discussions about our climate future.” In a city said to have more restaurants per head of population than anywhere in the UK, there is no shortage of gastronomes ready to savour the “food for thought” strand. By exploring the science behind what we eat and drink, the programme opens up discussions about sustainability, the power of the senses and the chemical composition of the perfect recipe. There are events about the history of dieting, the challenge of food security and how to forage for wild food.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“If anybody’s even vaguely curious about the world we live in, then they’ll find something that will fascinate, enlighten and entertain them.”
“We’ve got one event on sensory dining that will bring together a scent technician, a linguist, a chemist and a neuroscientist to look at how tweaking our various senses affects our experience of food,” she says. “It will take the form of a sitdown meal hosted by our expert guests. Each of the five courses will look at one of our senses.” The centrepiece of the “technology and innovation” strand is the Edinburgh Enlightenment Exchange (aka E²), a day-long showcase in the National Museum of Scotland in which scientists swap ideas with artists, musicians, authors and other innovative thinkers. Overlapping with the “science and arts” theme, it will be a day of heady creative ideas. “It’s a TED-style showcase of some of the best, brightest creatives who will do a short, sharp presentation about how they have taken a creative approach to their practice.” It’s not all about sitting back and listening, though. The programme also gives adults the chance to do some hands-on science in the form of LateLab, a nightly programme of free events and informal discussion in the university’s Inspace centre. “It’ll be a semi-social, semi-participatory
space where people can go in and get their hands on certain technological experiments, depending on the evening.”
develop photographs and build robots. They’ll be having so much fun, they won’t notice how much they’re learning at the same time.
All this makes clear that a substantial part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival is pitched at adults – around 75 events, in fact. No event that coincided with the Easter holidays would want to overlook the children’s market, but this festival caters equally well to the grown-ups. “We’re very keen that our adult programming is of a similar high standard to the work we do for young people and families,” says Tyndall.
There’s more junior entertainment at the Scottish Storytelling Centre – nerve centre of October’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival – where you’ll find authors with a liking for inventions, discoveries and the wonders of science. Still more family-friendly events are at the Royal Botanic Garden, the National Museum of Scotland, the University of Edinburgh and many other venues in and around town.
There is, indeed, also a packed programme for anyone over the age of three and if you’re coming to Edinburgh with children, you should head straight to the City Art Centre where there are six floors of science-based activities to join in every day of the festival apart from Sundays. You should order a day pass in advance to avoid queues, then watch the kids disappear into a world of sensory exploration, wild experiments and tricky challenges. Some sessions you can book in advance, others you can just turn up and join in. Children can learn how to make square bubbles,
Whatever your age, whatever your interests, you’ll be spoilt for choice, promises Tyndall: “If anybody’s even vaguely curious about the world we live in, then they’ll find something that will fascinate, enlighten and entertain them.” Edinburgh International Science Festival, 30 March–15 April, 2012,
light fantastic Edinburgh races to glory
Thanks to its geography and architectural beauty, Edinburgh is a natural festival city. Whatever time of year you arrive, it makes a fantastic backdrop for your cultural entertainment. In the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival, the city’s stunning topography will be in the spotlight more than ever thanks to NVA’s Speed of Light. This athletic spectacle takes place on Arthur’s Seat, the magnificent 832-foot peak close to the city centre. In a grand artistic response to the London Olympic Games, the environmental art company NVA is recruiting hundreds of volunteers to run up the slopes in choreographed formation, wearing high-tech light-emitting suits. They will be watched by a nightly audience of 800 who will generate their own light through the movement of bespoke walking staffs. “What I saw on the hill did not look like anything I’d seen before,” says NVA’s artistic director Angus Farquhar after a trial run.
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NVA’s Speed of Light is just one way the Edinburgh International Festival will be championing the Olympic values of internationalism and peace in 2012. Among its packed programme of world-class orchestras, opera companies, dance troupes and theatre ensembles are several events that are part of the UK-wide Cultural Olympiad. This encompasses the World Shakespeare Festival, which includes two productions in Edinburgh: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It), directed by Russia’s Dmitry Krymov, and Macbeth: 2008, directed by Poland’s Grzegorz Jarzyna for TR Warszawa. These high-hitting artists are typical of the major talents who help secure Edinburgh International Festival’s position as the Olympics of the arts world. Edinburgh International Festival, 9 August–2 September, 2012,
Chris Fujiwara, artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, reﬂects on putting together his inaugural programme
We sat down with newly appointed artistic director Chris Fujiwara to get some insights into the 2012 Festival. He had the following to say: “A film festival is a special time when we celebrate the art of film. In celebrating the art of film, we celebrate the power of film to take us places we don’t normally go – into realms of fantasy or the heart of reality. A good film gives us the chance to participate in a heightened experience. Programming a film festival means bringing together and making possible many such experiences and imagining how they can relate to one another. Right now, I’m in the middle of putting the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) programme together. Though it’s too early to mention specific films that will come to Edinburgh in June, what I can say now is that audiences will be able to encounter a great diversity of films by creative filmmakers from all over the world. There will be a number of very welcome surprises. Throughout the festival, we’ll be able to gain a better sense of the range of contemporary directions in filmmaking. And in our retrospectives, we’ll be able to explore how neglected films from the past relate to these new directions.
Sometimes I’m asked how I decide whether a film is worth programming or not. Of course many considerations can enter into this decision, but mainly it comes down to two things. The first thing is that a film has to surprise me. It must do something I wasn’t looking for and do it in a way that respects my intelligence and makes satisfying sense. I assume if it surprises me, it will surprise other people, too. The second thing is integrity. A good film is true to itself and as little compromised as possible. Integrity means that a filmmaker’s choices are dictated by nothing other than the demands of the work itself and by the form of the film as it unfolds in time. This is not to say that a film has to be perfect. As Jean Renoir said, there are no perfect films. I even believe that part of the power of films comes from their imperfection. Things that happen in time always run the risk of imperfection, and modern artists in various media are always coming up with interesting ways of working with this risk. A film festival, too, is a time-based form, and an extremely complex one, happening at once in numerous venues and among thousands of people. Like a good film, a good film festival also needs to offer surprises, and above all it needs
integrity. My job is to ensure that everyone who comes to EIFF – whether as a member of the audience, as a filmmaker, as a critic or as a volunteer – should feel that for all its variety, EIFF is at heart a single festival, with a distinctive and satisfying flow, with exciting rhythms, and with a sense of continuity. In the end what we celebrate at a film festival is our own powers as viewers. The mass media and the Hollywood major studios tend to treat viewers as if they were less than full people, as if they were capable only of limited and repetitive experiences, as if they were buying a ticket in order to escape from themselves. For the twelve days of EIFF we want to give people the chance to feel that cinema is about the richness of their own perceptions, thoughts, and emotions. Not escaping from oneself, but living more deeply.”
Edinburgh International Film Festival, 20 June–1 July, 2012,
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no half measures
When the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival says it’s serious about showing high-quality theatre to children, it doesn’t do things by halves. Or rather, it does. Half a year in the life of a child makes a huge difference. It’s all the time you need to go from a baby to a toddler, from a crawler to a walker, from a listener to a talker, from a watcher to a reader. As every parent knows, all those stages in a child’s life are clearly defined – and what a young person is interested one year is rarely the same thing that interests them the next. That’s why the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival, the largest of its kind in the UK, is precise about the age groups each of its 13 shows is designed to appeal to. And nobody misses out. The suggested age range for this year’s entry-level show, for example, is between four and eighteen months: even if you’re in nappies, there’s a performance for you in this pioneering festival. If you don’t believe children so young could focus on a piece of theatre, you’ll be amazed to see quite how captivated they can be. The festival has been increasingly catering to
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babies and toddlers in recent years, offering shows that have been among the most richly imaginative of all. Parents know they’re on to a good thing and can’t get enough of such work.
Paperbelle is getting to grips with the introduction of colour into a previously plain landscape. It’s about the fear and excitement of change and unpredictability.
So the grown-ups will be giving a warm welcome to Australia’s Sally Chance Dance and its 40-minute show This (Baby) Life. The company developed the performance in nurseries, where it researched the way babies interact with the adult world. The show uses dance, sound and images and gives the young audience the option to get involved or sit back and watch. With everyone sitting on rugs, the three dancers lead the audience gently into a world of mirroring games and mesmerising musical sequences, opening up new avenues of enquiry as it does so.
The Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival prides itself on its internationalism, lining up companies from all over the world alongside the best in home-grown work. Among this year’s overseas visitors is Teater Pero from Sweden with Aston’s Stones, a story about a boy whose love of collecting stones is starting to get out of hand. It’s a funny and touching show for three-to-six year olds about appreciating the small things in life.
You need to be scarcely any older to appreciate Paperbelle by Frozen Charlotte Productions, one of Scotland’s brightest companies catering to the very young. This show is for two-year-olds and anyone up to the first year of primary school, although the grown-ups will be enchanted as well. It takes us into a world made of paper where the young
Playing to the same market is a second Australian company, Windmill Theatre, bringing Grug, a puppet performance based on the picture books by Australian illustrator Ted Prior. It’s about an odd-looking bush creature who looks like a striped haystack with an unusually generous temperament. Performed with passion and imagination, it delights a young audience.
“Parents know they’re on to a good thing and can’t get enough of such work.”
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“The world of fantasy and imagination is a marvelously enjoyable place to explore.”
From Scotland, Ailie Cohen is a charming puppeteer whose work is characterised by strong storytelling and sumptuous visuals. In Cloud Man, she takes four-to-seven year olds on an adventure into the skies with cloud expert Cloudia who is on a mission to see a Cloud Man with her very own eyes. Cohen takes a simple idea and makes it surprising, funny and moving.
form of By the Seat of Your Pants, a playful piece of knockabout comedy for the over-sevens by Plutôt la Vie and Howden Park Centre. Performed by three silent-movie style clowns, it is a warmspirited piece of visual theatre, using wooden chairs as the starting point for a series of hilarious sketches. Musical chairs will never be the same again.
The same can be said of Sunflowers and Sheds, a play about the relationship between an old man and a lively Russian girl. Occupying neighbouring allotments, they grow from frostiness to friendship with the passing seasons. Performed by England’s M6 Theatre Company, it will delight the overfives, not least because of a magical set featuring vegetables that really do grow.
Three further shows for a similar age-range have proved themselves abroad. From France comes Compagnie Arcosm with Traverse, a musical fantasy named after Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre where it plays. From the Netherlands comes Stella den Haag with Rumpelstiltskin, a classy staging of the scary Grimm’s tale. And from Switzerland comes TricksterP with .h.g., in which two children at a time venture into the world of Hansel and Gretel with only headphones and torch to help them. It proves immersive theatre is not the sole preserve of adult audiences.
Kindur is one show children won’t forget in a hurry. Everybody who watches it will be given a woollen heart. If your heart lights up, it’s a signal to join in. Subtitled “The Adventurous Life of a Sheep in Iceland”, this interactive performance by Italy’s Compagnia TPO places primary-aged children at the centre of a high-tech journey into the imagination. There’s another lively Scottish contribution in the
Finally, Scotland is offering two productions for older children. The first has been commissioned by the London 2012 Festival, the cultural tie-in with the Olympic Games. Called Mikey and Addie, it is created by Andy Manley (acclaimed for his role in Catherine Wheels’ White) with Rob Evans and the
macrobert in Stirling. Aimed at the over-nines, it is about two ten-year-olds coming to terms with their parents’ secrets and a life that is about to change. For audiences up to their early teens, Titus takes a serious look at love, loneliness, adolescence and death. Working with a script by Belgium’s Jan Sobrie, Lu Kemp and Oliver Emanuel present us with a boy who has ended up perched on the school roof as he tries to cope with the pressures of growing up and getting the balance right between the boring truth and fantastic lies. Whatever else your children learn from the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival, it’ll be that the world of fantasy and imagination is a marvelously enjoyable place to explore. Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival, 7–14 May. The full Festival programme will be available from 26 March at,
www.imaginate.org.uk >> Booking opens on Monday 26 March 2012. Tickets will then be available from the Traverse Theatre Box Office: 0131 228 1404 or online at,
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Q&A - TONY REEKIE
Q&A child’s play Tony Reekie, artistic director of the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival, shares his passion for children’s theatre What do you look for in a children’s show? First, I’m looking for something that catches my eye. If it’s not going to work for me, then it’s difficult for me to buy it on behalf of anybody else. I’m always looking for something that achieves its objective, whether it’s trying to be entertaining, to tell a good story, to be sad or funny. From that point, I ask, “Does it connect with the audience?” But it’s got to be broader than just connecting with the children. There are very few, if any, performances where there are only children in the audience. So pieces have to be universal. They should be working for the adults as well; if they’re working in a different way, that’s fine, but they have to be working across the board.
What process do you go through before you book a show into the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival? If at all possible, I try and see a show a couple of times. If you revisit a show, sometimes you think, “Ah, well, I’ve seen more things in it now,” or, “Actually, there’s a lot less to it than I thought there was the first time round.” Like any piece of art, children’s theatre does sometimes need that second look.
Do you think theatre for children has the edge over theatre for adults? Yes. Where it has the edge is that it makes theatremakers think about the way they communicate with an audience. As adults, we take it as read that we will be understood by each other and theatre for adults works on that kind of basis. Sometimes, that’s absolutely fine, but sometimes it leads to people not using everything theatre has to offer to convey a story. With children’s theatre, when it’s good, people have thought that stuff through really carefully. At it’s best, it becomes like dance: there’s nothing in there that doesn’t have a meaning, nothing that is superfluous. You always programme a mix of Scottish and international productions.
What do you think we can learn from seeing foreign work and what is Scotland offering in return? Our theatre in Scotland is where it is because of the impact of foreign work. We had the chance all that time ago [in the early 1990s] either to look south to England and the theatre-in-education pedagogic approach or to look to our festival where we had really quite strange, unusual and extraordinary work. It was the ability not only to see that work but to get our artists out to other parts of the world and to see themselves as international artists that had a huge impact on what we do. Today, we have people from Scotland bringing their own skills to the table. It’s not the case that we copy the Dutch, the Flemish or the Danish; we have our Scottish tradition of storytelling coupled with people telling those stories in a really interesting way.
What makes the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival special? It’s the city, it’s the venues and it’s the fabulous team that I work with. We have a festival that’s the right size, we have the right balance in the programme and, given that we get so many people coming from so far across the world just to be part of our festival and they say it’s the one that you have to come to, then I think we have one of the most special children’s festivals in the world. Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival, 7–14 May,
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spring selection A range of Edinburgh VIPs pick their favourite things to do in the Festival City Councillor Jenny Dawe, leader, City of Edinburgh Council Best Edinburgh spring walk At Cramond along the village path towards the Cramond Brig, is a pleasant walk in the spring. There are a lot of spring ﬂowers out in the woods. There’s some very ancient history along there as well – there’s what is alleged to be a Roman nail factory.
Favourite independent shop I spend so much time as a councillor I don’t get much time for shopping, but my partner uses this a lot, it’s a ﬁsh shop called Sheila’s Quality Fish on Marchmont Crescent. He always enters into conversation with her and when I see her in the street she always asks me if I’ve enjoyed the piece of ﬁsh.
Favourite spring restaurant I live in the Marchmont area and there’s a place I meet a friend for a Sunday brunch called Toast on Marchmont Road. It’s quite pleasant because if the weather is nice you can sit outside on the pavement.
Favourite Edinburgh spring cultural event The Edinburgh Lectures ( www.edinburghlectures.wordpress.com ) go on right through until May and they generally have different themes, such as a celebration of women in astronomy and creativity in the movies. There’s always a nice combination of the scientiﬁc with the cultural and the literary.
Jonathan Mills, artistic director, Edinburgh International Festival Best Edinburgh spring walk The Royal Botanic Garden is a beautiful spot to wander around at any time of year but particularly in the spring with the re-emerging fauna. It looks stunning on one of those crisp and clear Edinburgh mornings.
Favourite independent shop Being a bit of a foodie, I love spending time discovering new treats and picking up old favourites at Valvona and Crolla, the long-standing Italian delicatessen on Elm Row.
Favourite spring restaurant Mithas down at the Shore is a particular favourite at the moment. I enjoy ﬁsh and they have a superb selection of Indian tapas style ﬁsh dishes on their wonderfully creative menu.
Favourite Edinburgh spring cultural event The Edinburgh International Science Festival for fresh perspectives and stimulating ideas and discussions.
Simon Dessain, digital director, The List magazine Best Edinburgh spring walk I’m a keen gardener and I’ve probably visited somewhere between 30 and 40 botanic gardens in the world – I would go to every botanic garden in every city I visit – and Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden is the ﬁnest. It’s the quality of the trees and plants, the length of time they’ve been doing it and it’s just extremely well preserved, and with very ﬁne glass houses. Favourite spring restaurant On a brighter spring day, you’ll get sun on the terrace at the Hub Café on Castlehill as early as you’ll get it anywhere in Edinburgh. And it’s an enjoyable place to eat.
Favourite independent shop Lilies and Dreams, 28 St Stephen Street, sells beautifully crafted handbags, luggage and accessories. The four ladies in my life were all very happy when I got their Christmas presents from there. I was thought of as sensitive and thoughtful – which is very rare. Favourite Edinburgh spring cultural event The National Museum of Scotland has been a great success since its recent reopening after a major refurbishment. The RBS Lates, when it opens after hours, have been terriﬁc – a really good mix of the informal and the educational and interesting. They’ve been incredibly popular. The whole gallery did very well with its renovation.
Councillor Deirdre Brock, convener of the culture and leisure committee, City of Edinburgh Council Best Edinburgh spring walk Nothing beats walking up and around Calton Hill on a spring day – fantastic 360-degree views of the most beautiful city in the world and a wealth of history to explore in our newly restored buildings and monuments – and about to get even more interesting when the Collective Gallery transfers to its new home in the old City Observatory.
Favourite independent shop This is tough as there ‘s such great cosmopolitan shopping in Edinburgh and Leith now but one of my favourite shops has to be the Manna House bakery and cafe on Easter Road. Friendly service and their superb patisserie and artisan breads are sensationally good.
Favourite spring restaurant So many great restaurants in Edinburgh, but if pressed, I’d plump for Vittoria’s on Leith Walk – delicious, authentic Italian (tagliatelle pescatore highly recommended!) and importantly has always offered a very warm welcome to our kids.
Favourite Edinburgh spring cultural event One thing I’m really looking forward to in 2012 after its hugely successful launch last year is the Festival of Museums, 18–20 May – this year features a Venetian Masked Ball and an Edwardian Murder Mystery (different nights!) at our very own Lauriston Castle, among many other exciting events . . .
Lucy Bird, chief executive, Marketing Edinburgh Best Edinburgh spring walk At this time of year in Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat, the light is fantastic. You’ve got to see our fab city from the top. Aren’t we lucky to have a hill in the middle of the city? What’s lovely is you can access it so easily from the city centre. You’re in the countryside on the top of a hill with a fantastic view not only of the city but also of the Firth of Forth and over to Fife. Favourite spring restaurant I’ll choose a hidden one: Al Dente on Easter Road. It’s an Italian restaurant – or Piedmontese to be exact – which is authentic, friendly and fun. Favourite independent shop I love a lot of independent shops in the New Town. The Bon Vivant’s Companion on Thistle Street is a fantastic independent wine shop where the staff are really well informed. Another one that’s brilliant is Homer on Howe Street which is a New Town townhouse that has four downstairs rooms open as a homes and gardens shop Favourite Edinburgh spring cultural event Any of the exhibitions at the National Galleries. Whether it’s the National Portrait Gallery, the Dean Gallery, the National Gallery of Modern Art and the National Gallery on the Mound, there’s always something fantastic to take you out of yourself.
“ Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden is the finest.”
FESTIVALS FESTIVALSMAGAZINE MAGAZINE
FESTIVALS GO FOR GOLD DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY
everyone’s a winner Why Edinburgh’s festivals are always first to the finishing line Even if you’ve been to the city before, it can be hard to get a sense of how much Edinburgh changes when its summer festivals are in full swing. With a population that doubles and with multiple festivals running at once, the Scottish capital becomes a different place. The only way to appreciate this difference is to visit for yourself – and then visit again for years to come, just to convince yourself you weren’t dreaming the first time. Before you get here, however, why not get a taste of the vibrancy of August by viewing the below link:
http://tinyurl.com/77uck8e >> Watch it once, then imagine the same thing going on from morning till night. In this, the year of the London Olympics, Edinburgh is an ideal destination for anyone who enjoys their elite artists just as much as their elite sportsmen. There’s a perfect window for a trip to the city between the end of the Olympic Games and the start of the Paralympics. That way, you can see for yourself how much it is a magnet for the world’s finest authors, actors, dancers, musicians and artists. Not only in 2012, but every year and all year round, Edinburgh’s festivals celebrate the world’s greatest cultural achievements. If there was a gold medal for festival cities, Edinburgh would win hands down. Watch Edinburgh’s Festivals Go for Gold in 2012 at,
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DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY
JUST FOR LAUGHS
just for laughs Explore the science of humour at the 2012 Edinburgh International Science Festival
Laughter – it’s a funny old thing, but why and how do we do it? What happens to us when we do? And can humans really laugh about anything? This year, the Science Festival presents science with a sense of humour with a series of evening events at Ghillie Dhu and the Jam House that will make you laugh, think and then laugh again. Comedian and Science Festival favourite Robin Ince is back in 2012, delving into the evolutionary basis of comedy and laughter with Oxford University’s Professor Robin Dunbar. He is also a special guest, along with Richard Wiseman, at Festival of the Spoken Nerd, which is described as ‘Riotously funny show about science… brimming with unashamed geekery’ (Three Weeks).This fabulous comedy night for the insatiably sci-curious features stand-up mathematician Matt Parker, geek songstress Helen Arney and Blue Peter’s resident science expert, Steve Mould, in a night of comedy, science, maths, geeky songs, special guests, interactive experiments – and maybe even some things that go bang…
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JUST FOR LAUGHS
Heard the one about academics doing stand-up? Scotland’s best comedic academics transform their research into side-splitting standup in the latest instalment of the nationwide sensation that is Bright Club. Meanwhile, Australia’s leading maths communicator and stand-up mathematician, Simon Pampena,is in training for the Maths Olympics – comedy gold. All this plus Brian Lobel’s Ball and other funny stories – a tale of his quirky and unique struggle against cancer. Yep, that’s right, cancer. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to perform a self-exam. Join us – just for a laugh – for some side-splitting, but still scientific, entertainment across the Science Festival. For more go to,
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JEWELS IN THE CROWN
jewels in the crown A right Royal treat in Edinburgh Castle Celebrations are planned throughout the year to mark the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, who came to the throne on 6 February 1952 before her coronation on 2 June 1953. Such a momentous occasion could not go overlooked by the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which will be presenting Scotland’s Salute to the Monarch every night for three weeks during August.
“The annual spectacular is one of the city’s most atmospheric festivals...”
The annual spectacular is one of the city’s most atmospheric festivals, taking place on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle as the summer light fades into night. Here in the evening air, a total of 220,000 spectators thrill to the sight of hundreds of performers drawn from regiments from all over the world. The 2012 line-up, which also marks the Year of Creative Scotland, includes the stunning percussion of the Top Secret Drum Corps from Switzerland, the awesome display skills of His Majesty the King’s Guards Band and Drill Team from Norway and 100 young pipers, drummers and dancers from Queen Victoria School in Dunblane. That’s in addition to pipe bands from Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and New South Wales, all illuminated with state-of-the-art lighting and enhanced by surround sound and graphic installations.
Book tickets From the 1 December at www.edintattoo.co.uk or call the box ofﬁce on Telephone bookings 0131 225 1188 (if calling from overseas dial 0044 131 225 1188)
The 90-minute performance culminates in a rousing round of Auld Lang Syne, followed by the breathtaking sight and sound of the lone piper playing on the castle ramparts. This long-standing Tattoo tradition rounds off a scintillating performance that is nothing if not fit for a queen. Edinburgh Military Tattoo 3–25 August, 2012.
Discover creative characters during 2012! Tam O’Shanter, Burns Storytelling, Alloway
Circus performers at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Win a 2 night break in Edinburgh during the Year of Creative Scotland 2012 Scotland is home to a huge range of creative characters! Find them on the street during our world-famous festivals, in our stunning theatres and galleries, or on iconic landmarks throughout the country. You may even find some lurking in our dungeons! During 2012 we’ll be celebrating Year of Creative Scotland with a year-long programme of vibrant events throughout the country. To celebrate, we are offering one winner and a guest, a 2 night break in Edinburgh at the Mercure City hotel - an ideal base during the city’s festival period. We are also throwing in 2 passes to the Edinburgh dungeons where you are sure to discover some of Edinburgh’s more eccentric characters! To enter and for terms and conditions, go to www.visitscotland.com/creativewin Closing date for competition entries: 1st June 2012 Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland, and VOCAL.
Scottish Ballet, based in Glasgow
William Wallace, Edinburgh Dungeon
festival calendar EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE FESTIVAL Europe’s largest celebration of science and technology is an opportunity to catch up with the latest inventions, innovations and big ideas. With everything from hands-on experiments for children to eye-opening talks for grown-ups, it’s a splendid invention in its own right. 30 March–15 April 2012 www.sciencefestival.co.uk >>
BANK OF SCOTLAND IMAGINATIVE FESTIVAL We can agree that children deserve to see as good theatre as their parents see. At this festival, however, they see theatre that’s even better. Showcasing international and Scottish performances, it presents only the best for toddlers, tots and teens. 7–14 May 2012
EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
See the latest in cutting-edge filmmaking with a full host of screenings and talks straight from the studio. Glamorous premieres, glittering personalities and genuine passion turn Edinburgh into one of the filmic centres of Europe. 20 June–1 July 2012 www.edfilmfest.org.uk >>
Edinburgh is the world’s festival city, and there is always something happening around every corner
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EDINBURGH JAZZ AND BLUES FESTIVAL Wriggling free of easy categorisation, this lively summer feast of music embraces all corners of the jazz and blues spectrum, from traditional to avant garde, with all manner of influences, be it folk, or pop, thrown in. There are events for connoisseurs and jazz novices, featuring world-class players and up-and-coming stars of tomorrow. 20–29 July 2012 www.edinburghjazzfestival.com >>
EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE
Edinburgh Art Festival is Scotland’s largest annual festival of visual art, bringing together more than 40 museums, galleries and pop-up spaces across the city and beyond with internationallyrenowned names exhibiting alongside the best emerging talent. The Festival is accompanied by a programme of specially-commissioned artwork and a diverse events programme.
The world’s largest arts festival an allconsuming outpouring of creativity is completely open access. Big-name comics, first time actors, established artists and theatre makers, cult cabaret stars, musical and dance spectaculars, intimate revues... if you can think of it, someone is almost certainly putting it on.
2 August–2 September 2012
3–27 August 2012
EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL
EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
THE ROYAL EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO
Under canvas in the picturesque setting of Charlotte Square Gardens, hundreds of the world’s best authors gather to discuss ideas, inventions and inspirations. There are Nobel Prize winners, stars of tomorrow (like JK Rowling who appeared as an unknown name) and a library’s worth of authors in between.
Marvel at this pinnacle of Scottish culture, in which dance, theatre and music are all elevated to astonishingly high standards. Modern compositions are accompanied by new perspectives on classic pieces, all enacted by the finest performers and companies from the five continents.
Dramatic setting. Spectacular entertainment. A television audience of millions. Playing every night in front of Edinburgh Castle, the Tattoo fields flag-wavers, motorcyclists, drill teams and massed bands in a breathtaking display. Look out for the lone piper.
11–27 August 2012
9 August–2 September 2012
3–25 August 2012
EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL STORYTELLING FESTIVAL
EDINBURGH MELA FESTIVAL
EDINBURGH ART FESTIVAL
EDINBURGH’S HOGMANAY You think you’ve been to some big parties, but you haven’t seen anything until you see the crowds thronging Edinburgh city centre to welcome the New Year. In the days on either side, there are family events including a torchlight procession up Calton Hill and the annual loony dook in which foolhardy members of the public jump in the water at South Queensferry.
In a tented village on Leith Links to the north of the city centre, this multicultural gathering celebrates the mix of nationalities and races who live in the Scottish capital. Expect some of the biggest names in Asian music, some of the tastiest food in world cuisine and some of the liveliest family entertainment you’ll find anywhere.
A proud upholder of the oral tradition, this festival proves everyone loves a good yarn. There are events for all ages, offering not only the chance to listen to master storytellers, but also to learn their narration skills for yourself.
31 August–2 September 2012
19–28 October 2012
30 December–1 January 2012/13
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SPRING 2012 THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE EDINBURGH FESTIVALS
D E S I G N E D
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Edinburgh Festival Spring 2012 Magazine- your Spring guide to Edinburgh's Festivals and the world's leading Festival City.