Edinburgh Tattoo, Fringe & Book Festivals

August is a fantastic month to visit Edinburgh, Scotland. There is so much to do and the atmosphere is light and merry. Everyone seems to be having fun! The Military Tattoo, Fringe Festival, Film Festival, and Book Festival are all on during August. It is best to book accommodation as soon as possible. Tickets for the Tattoo go on sale around December and weekends go quickly. Luckily, we were able to get tickets and found accommodation at a B&B near the city center. You can pre-purchase tickets to Fringe performances on the web or just wing it. Since we didn't know what to expect, we decided to wing it. We saw a couple of pretty good shows and some really terrible ones but the venues are very cool and some were even a bit spooky. One of the worst shows we saw was in a dark, damp cave or grotto-like underground room. Our theory is this location was picked so no one could walk out on the performer!?! Anyway, our most unexpected find was stumbling upon the book festival at Charlotte's Square. We saw a tent from Princes Street and decided to check it out. Little did we know that Charlotte's Square would become our first stop every morning - well right after Starbucks. There were authors from around the world holding discussions on their newly released books as well as a signing afterwards. The discussion tents were small and intimate and the authors answered audience questions. The tickets were reasonably priced and topics varied widely. However, the highlight was getting tickets to see John Irving - one of our favorite authors.

The Tattoo was most enjoyable and very different from anything we had seen before! The show was dedicated to Admiral Horatio Nelson and the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. The tattoo is set at the entrance of Edinburgh Castle and the performers enter from the castle itself. The show ends with a very eerie tune from a lone bagpiper atop the highest castle wall. It is truly spectacular and heartfelt. Performing this night were military bands from as far away as Trinidad & Tobago and South Africa as well as Highland and Russian Cossack Dancers. Also 2005 had the largest gathering of pipers and drummers ever to appear at the Tattoo. As we waited in line to get into the Tattoo, we were entertained by the many street performers that flock to the Royal Mile (cobblestone street leading to the castle) for an audience. It is hard to explain how much fun August in Edinburgh actually is - we would definitely advise putting it on your list! I have a feeling we will be back next year.

A few links for the Tattoo and festivals:

Tattoo

Book Festival

Fringe Festival

Film Festival

Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street:

Street performer on the Royal Mile:

Highland Dancers performing on the Royal Mile:

The start of the 2005 Military Tattoo:

Fringe ticket office on Princes Street near Tourist Information:

Gabi helping out one of the Fringe performers:

Another performer near Grassmarket:

Book Festival & Charlotte's Square:

Lounging around the Book Festival:

John Irving signing his lastest novel for Mike:

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