August – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 02)
The Banner Says…
Edinburgh-Flowering of the Human Spirit
It would have been the late 1980’s when I first visited Edinburgh in August, and during the buzz of Edinburgh festival season. That summer I managed to make it to a couple of Fringe shows and also my first Edinburgh Military Tattoo (it was not titled ‘Royal’ until 2010).
Though I had been to Edinburgh before, never had I experienced the buzz and energy of August.
A world leading festival city
2022 is the 75th anniversary of Edinburgh’s evolution as a world leading festival city. The concept for the very first Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) began soon after World War Two finished and it was an Austrian, Sir Rudolf Bing, who had fled Nazi occupied Germany and thought that the UK should have an international cultural festival and Edinburgh was put forward. The first EIF took place in August 1947, and so too did the first Edinburgh Fringe which is today the world’s largest arts festival and also the Edinburgh International Film Festival (originally called the International Festival of Documentary Films), which is the oldest continually running film festival in the world.
The Fringe however has its roots as an unplanned festival with theatre companies and performers staging shows in Edinburgh at the same time and not part of the official EIF program, these would become known as “Fringe Adjuncts” or those on the fringe of the main festival. These fringe acts soon became sought after by audiences and its very own festival was born. By 1950 the first Edinburgh Military Tattoo also joined Edinburgh’s August program and during the 1980’s the Edinburgh International Book Festival was added to the calendar.
These events now host tens of thousands of performers, who put on thousands of shows across Edinburgh for a global audience who converge on the streets of Auld Reekie just as I first did all those years ago. For those who may not know Auld Reekie is the term Edinburgh is affectionately known as. Auld Reekie is Scots for ‘Old Smokey’, a nickname which was given back when smoke from open coal and peat fires filled the city air like a fog. Some may also know Edinburgh as the ‘Athens of the North’, a term which was used more as the New Town was developed and the various monuments which followed.
In this issue
For those lucky enough to be in Edinburgh this month we feature some of the incredible and open spaces the city has to offer around Holyrood. At the opposite end of the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle lies some beautiful and rugged spaces. I have gone ‘walkies’ with friends and their dogs in Holyrood Park and also made it to the top of Arthur’s Seat for some amazing views of the capital. Though the latter certainly requires some level of fitness. This month’s feature by David McVey reminds us that Edinburgh does in fact rest on the remains of an extinct volcano that erupted 350 million years ago!
2022 is Scotland’s Year of Stories and the activities are continuing throughout the year. Stories make up so much of Scotland’s history, folklore and tradition. From that in the printed form to passed down verbal tales that help make up how Scots see themselves. Scotland has a particularly rich heritage of stories and storytelling to spotlight and celebrate and we hear from VisitScotland who are managing this fantastic year of events. For those not visiting Scotland in 2022 remember many of the locations being highlighted will be there waiting for when you can next travel.
The Panama Canal is a 51 mile/82km waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century. Some may be surprised, like me, that a Scottish vessel from Renfrew was a key part of its construction. This is just one other example of how ‘Clydebuilt’ went on to shape the world.
Edinburgh named best city to visit in the world
Just in time for the summer tourist season Edinburgh has also been ranked as the top city to visit in the world in a recent poll. The Scottish capital has topped a list of 53 cities based on interviews with more than 20,000 people about life in their hometowns by Time Out magazine. Edinburgh scored highly across the board, coming top for both the number of residents who thought the city was beautiful (95%) and those who deemed it walkable (93%), as well as 88% saying it is easiest to express who you are.
The very first Edinburgh International Festival was born as Europe healed after war and its aim then was to ‘provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’. As Scotland’s capital welcomes the world to its cobbled streets this month and after the last couple of years of the pandemic across the world and as war is again on Europe’s door, its original purpose rings just as true as it did 75 years ago.
Have you been to Edinburgh for Festival season? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us
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