Friday, 5 August 2011

All the fun of the Festival

August is the month when the world-famous Edinburgh Festivals kick off. The Edinburgh International Festival was started in 1947 by Rudolf Bing, then the General Manager of Glyndebourne Opera, Henry Harvey Wood the Head of the British Council in Scotland, and a group of civic leaders from the City of Edinburgh.

Working in the wake of the Second World War, the founders had a vision of a Festival that could enliven and enrich the cultural life of Europe, Britain and Scotland and 'provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit'.
The Festival's founders also recognised that, if the Festival succeeded in its artistic ambitions, it would create a major new source of tourism revenue for Edinburgh and for Scotland.
This founding principle - that a world class cultural event, which brings together audiences and artists from around the world, would also generate significant cultural, social and economic benefits for Edinburgh and Scotland - is as relevant today as it was over 60 years ago (Text from Festival website).

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, known simply as The Fringe, was also established in 1947, as an alternative to the International Festival. Featuring theatre, comedy, music and dance, it has grown enormous, with over 2,000 shows crammed into 3 weeks.
It showcases more experimental productions and comedy acts in particular have multiplied in recent years. The population of Edinburgh is usually just under half a million, but in August just as many visitors come to the Festivals. So it is a real squeeze just getting around then...!

The Scottish Screen Archive have a lovely film to view online from 1965. It shows excerpts from the Edinburgh International Festival, including plays, opera, ballet and the famous fireworks.

The National Library of Scotland collects Edinburgh Fringe (Festival) ephemera each year, which includes flyers, leaflets, programmes and tickets.

Some of the Library's Festival material is in a small display in the cases outside the doors to the Reading Room at George IV Bridge. The display is based on the photo feature in the current issue of Discover NLS and includes some examples of guides, programmes, and ephemera from various early International, Film, Fringe, and Book Festivals.

(Picture credit:

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