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Monday, 20 August 2012

Edinburgh Out Of Festival Season



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At this time of year, I'm always given to thinking about the Edinburgh Festival, particularly as my Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of people lucky enough to be there right now. I've been to the Fringe a few times, always attached to a show (or several), and loved every second of it. But for some reason I've resisted going back without a theatre company to call my own.

On our way to St Andrews in May this year, we stopped off in Edinburgh overnight. May. No festivals. It was weird.

My previous memories of the city were entirely filled with festival moments: hours spent searching for budget train tickets and cheap accommodation; arriving at Waverley Station with a tent and only the vaguest notion of where we might find the campsite (clue: it's not in the city centre); stumbling across rainy cobblestones to get to the next performance just in time. Late nights and the kind of party atmosphere that only comes from every other person being an actor, comedian, or stage hand. (Me? I was usually producing or marketing, you won't get me on stage.)

Edinburgh, outside of the festival season, is a very different place. It's too quiet, for a start. The gothic architecture looks stark when it isn't draped in technicolor Festival banners. And I struggled to find my way around without the familiar theatrical landmarks.

It was only a flying visit, but I was struck by how easy it is for the character of a place to transform overnight. I live near to Cheltenham, these days, which is another famous "festival city," but I've never felt that the mood of the town really changes with the comings and goings of its arts festivals. So I was taken aback by just how different Edinburgh felt without its street performers, temporary theatres, and heaving crowds.

Normally I prefer quiet environments, but my memories of Edinburgh are so wrapped up with theatre that it just felt strange. There's only one thing for it: I need to go back to the Fringe.

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10 comments:

becky said...

I just adore Edinburgh in its quiet mode...particularly the medieval part of the city...walking where all those ancient people walked...admiring the architecture that still stands hundreds of years later...so not like the United States with its youthful buildings that are so easily torn down and replaced with newer ones...

Meeha Meeha said...

I've seen Edinburgh three times and never in festival mode - so it works for me and your pics are simply lovely!

sch_94 said...

Hi Rachel! :)

I recently took your advice and bought a domain name for my blog through google but my GFC widget isn't showing up. Did this happen to you as well? If so, how did you fix it?

christine said...

I think Edinburgh is lovely all year round - I probably prefer it without the Fringe, but perhaps that's because I haven't participated in it, just spectated!

Elizabeth Braun said...

Finally - somewhere we've both been!!=) I recognise some of this...

Kazzy said...

Oh, how I want to be there. Right now!

Shai Coggins said...

I <3 Edinburgh. It was freezing when I visited, but loved it anyway. :) Thanks for sharing these!

Rachel said...

Edinburgh in quiet mode is the one I recognise - I've always managed to miss the Festivl!

Charlotte Klein said...

Of the many places I have yet to travel, Edinburgh always seems to top my list. I'd love to go there but it's good to know that the fringe festival is the time. I thought perhaps it would be see the city "naked" for the first time, ie, without the pomp and circumstance, but perhaps I should coincide a visit with one of the many festivals it's known for.

Johanna GGG said...

I think Edinburgh is just lovely in the winter, especially when the Christmas lights and markets are in full swing - if you want to see a completely different atmosphere to the fringe, go then - and it is probably cheaper!

But I lived in Edinburgh for months before experiencing the festival and by then was living with locals who found their town overrun by tourists and not that happy

but love the photos

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