Fife Stories and Tips

Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Castle Photo, Fife, Scotland

I did not break my record last year for number of festival shows. And when I filled out a survey for a woman at the book festival, she asked my occupation, I said travelling, she wrote down unemployed.

I started out the festival by seeing Monty Python's Flying Circus performed in French the day I flew in from Dublin. Not only is my French not as bad as I would have thought, but the lyrics to "Sit on My Face" were much funnier in French. Le parroque est mort! My next stop was Ross Noble (not as funny as last year, sadly), followed by Thebans (Oedipus, Antigone, and that one with Oedipus’s two sons fighting it out over Thebes, can never remember the name, all in one play) by Liz Lockhead - very good Scottish poet. Shakespeare's Italian Job (picture the film but with all dialogue taken from existing Shakespearean plays). I saw All the Great Books by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, Sexual Perversity in Chicago (a Mamet play, very student-y production, but good), Camut Band's Life in Rhythm (tap dancing and drum playing, very good), The Typographer's Dream (very depressing, about people and their careers and how they don't much like them), and Alexandra's Project (go see this film! Australian, really weird, but must see).

The book festival was my favourite of them all this year. I saw David Reiff (wrote a book about humanitarian aid called "A Bed for the Night"), Susan Sontag (WOW), Gil Courtemanche (he's Canadian, I had never heard of him, read an article in the paper and decided to go, his book "A Sunday Afternoon at the Pool in Kigali"), Kate Atkinson, and Iain Banks.

Saw a big Monet presentation (the RSA is finally finished being refurbished), the DinoBirds of China at the Museum of Scotland. I am going to miss the smell of Edinburgh - the smell of beer from the Caledonian brewery and all those pubs... Edinburgh smells like no place else in the world.

The festival season in Edinburgh can be quite expensive. As I’ve always lived in Edinburgh (or in the case of this particular year, stayed with friends), I’ve never actually had to deal with the accommodation end of things, but it is a very busy time of year. Book ahead. The shows are also quite pricey, but there are deals to be had. The International Festival does cheap morning-of tickets - if it’s for a popular show, go really early - for opera tickets one year, I queued up at 5:30am for tickets that went on sale at 9am. And the BBC does radio shows of comedians, author readings, music, etc., and you can get free audience tickets - check out the BBC website. If you hang out at places like the Pleasance Courtyard, people will sometimes wander around offering free tickets to things, even free T-shirts. Food is going to be expensive as well. A place called Snax is cheap, if rather greasy, and it’s just off Princes St and North Bridge (they have a sign), just wander up the alleyway. Right above Snax is a pub that opens around 5am or something like that. I’ve heard it said that during the Festival you can drink for 24 hours straight at pubs and festival venues - feel free to take that as a challenge!

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