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Festival's Edinburgh

For 11 months of the year, Edinburgh is a relaxed, sedate city, revelling in the benefits of its capital status while enjoying the calm that comes with a smallish population. But come August, it’s all change. The population doubles, the atmosphere becomes almost continental, and the grey stone façades burst into colour. It’s the largest arts celebration in the world, drawing performers from Uppsala to Uluru and all points in between.

Not everyone is enamoured of this dramatic shift in the city’s character. Many locals jump ship and rent their properties to visitors for massive fees, while others simply stay and grumble. However, they’re in the minority: for most, the array of festivals held during August together comprise the highlight of the city’s cultural calendar. Unique is an overused word, but it absolutely applies here. August in Edinburgh is like no place else on earth.

The first thing to note about August in Edinburgh is that the hundreds of events that take place are not part of a single cultural festival. The traditional primacy of the Edinburgh International Festival has meant that August’s events are often referred to as, simply, ‘the festival’. However, there are a huge bundle of administratively separate jamborees taking place at the same time, dedicated to different artistic disciplines. Many of them came together to form Festivals Edinburgh, an umbrella organisation that works with all the various organisers in a bid to improve their lot in the city, but they’re ultimately separate and very distinct enterprises.

See the individual articles to find out more about specific events during the 2011 Edinburgh International Festival.