According to the Guinness Book of Records, Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival is the largest in the world, and for anyone who has been, it has also been voted the best. For three weeks every August, the city plays host to over six hundred companies who put on a vast range of events for their audience. You will find every art form that you can possibly think of, from theatre and comedy to music and magic. There are up to one thousand shows per day in over two hundred venues so you are guaranteed to find something you like, however obscure your tastes. Most of the shows will not cost you any more than £5 but a large amount are free. One thing you do need to remember is that while the festival is on, the population of Edinburgh doubles so you need to book accommodation well in advance.
Other festivals in Edinburgh during the summer months include the Jazz Festival which takes place from July 30th to August 8th, the Military Tatoo from August 6th to 28th and the International Film Festival from August 15th to 29th.
The Highland Games
These are a very unique group of spectator sports and emphasise clan traditions instead of the athletic ability of the competitors. The main events are usually tossing logs and the like and the contestants are all kitted out in traditional Scottish garb complete with kilt. There is also more Scottish pomp and ceremony for the visitors with bag pip playing, traditional highland dancing, and basically anything which is native to the country. The most popular of these games is the Baraemar Roayl Highland Gathering which is held near Balmoral Castle on the first Saturday in September every year.
Music & Dance
While in the country, you could do a great deal worse than check out the Scottish traditional music and dance scene. You should ask in the local tourist information office for a copy of their ‘What’s On’ publication. Also if you are interested in going to a Ceilidh, a traditional dance to local music played on accordions, fiddles, drums and a variety of other instruments, you should look in the Glasgow Herald or in the Scotsman’s entertainment section. These unique evenings are more traditional in the Highlands or on some of the islands and are an experience which you will never forget, for one reason or another. Of course, if you don’t fancy sweating it out at a Ceilidh, you can always go to one of the summer shows which take place throughout the country. These shows feature a mixture of tartan, pipes and songs of hills, heather and the like. While they are entertaining, they are aimed directly at tourists and are not as rough and ready or as much fun as the more traditional events.
Is there anything this country doesn’t have to offer its visitors? Not only is it laden with your everyday tourist attractions such as castles and museums, it also has one of the most vibrant pub and club scenes on the planet. You will receive a traditional Celtic welcome no matter which of the major cities you are in and are guaranteed a good night out too. It is true what they say, the Scots really are a friendly bunch and will make you feel at home within a very short space of time. Of course the local brew may have something to do with this too so for all of you who aren’t used to the old Scotch on the rocks just yet, take it easy. To find out what’s happening on the social scene, "The List", published fortnightly, covers events in the Edinburgh and Glasgow area. "The Scotsman" weekend supplement and "The Times" Metro supplement - both published on Saturday have very useful information covering most of the country and the local weekly newspaper in any area is also very informative. Many towns also publish their own "What's On" guides which you can pick up in shops and tourist offices.
This is the name that Scots give to the New Year and it is now such a huge event in the country, that it even overshadows Christmas for some people. Ideally, the capital is where you should be if you want to be at the centre of the celebrations but wherever you are you will get swept up in the mood. The Hogmanay street parties are now lasting up to three days making it the biggest winter celebration on the continent. It is actually regarded as a festival for the Scottish and visitors where there’s bands, dances and special shows from all over the world taking place for those of you brave enough to beat the crowds. Because of overcrowding in recent years, entry to the city centres is now limited to those who have advance tickets.