TRAVEL: From a Fringe event to a favourite

Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh
Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh
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So you go on holiday and enjoy it so much that on your way home you agree: ‘We’ll do that again sometime.’

And you never do.

Edinburgh Ibis

Edinburgh Ibis

There’s just too much world out there to explore isn’t there.

But you do have ‘favourite’ holidays, ones you do repeat.

So how does a holiday get to become a favourite?

Well, it has to be better than good, better than very good, it has to be memorable.

Which brings us to Edinburgh.

A year on and we’re back for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Because it was so memorable we wanted another go.

Edinburgh offers enough to be a great destination at any time of the year, but in festival season it really takes off.

City centre streets are heaving with crowds on their way to thousands of events, street artistes vie for your attention, young acts on soap boxes or at home-made stalls shout about their next performance and students offer event flyers to everyone.

On the way to one concert a tanned girl in dark glasses walked past my wife, pressed a flyer into her hand, and said in a rich Antipodean accent “I hear it’s very good.”

After a few paces my wife stopped dead and said: “That’s... that was... she’s in Neighbours!”

And she is. It was New Zealand actress Morgana O’Reilly who has played troublemaker Naomi Canning for the last 18 months.

And so we went to see her. She played a tiny room in Edinburgh’s Assembly Hall and was front of stage greeting the sold-out audience as we filed in.

She chatted easily with us, for a good while, and then presented a solo comedy show which was terrific.

Where else is that going to happen except Edinburgh?

And walking along one day and Simon Callow passed us in the street.

And a bit further on there was Eddie Izzard taking a bag of Sainsbury’s shopping back to his hotel.

In August more than 25,000 artists and entertainers put on more than 1,000 shows per day.

The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and the programme is the size of a telephone directory.

It’s attracting such mainstream names now that pretty soon they might have to start thinking about a fringe Fringe.

It’s busy, it’s bustling, it’s ‘of the moment’ and, to borrow a Sixties phrase, the atmosphere is of a ‘collective happening.’

On a whim, we nipped in to a pub back room to see two lads in a comedy bingo quiz.

And then the next day we went to see comedy actress Anna Morris. She was billed as ‘the star of Outnumbered’ which is a bit of a stretch because she was only in one episode – but she shone in her one-woman show.

We packed a lot in, including the famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a Monster Stand-Up Show of five up-and-coming comedians, an open-top tour of the city centre with Edinburgh Bus Tours, and more, and with a two-night break we still didn’t have the time to do everything we wanted.

Edinburgh is so very enjoyable, so memorable, that we’ll come back again.

Do I mean it?

Oh yes, it’s a favourite now.

FESTIVAL DATES:

- Imaginate Festival, May 11 - 17

- Edinburgh International Film Festival, June 17 - 28

- Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, July 17 - 26

- Edinburgh Art Festival, July 30 - August 30

- Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August 7 - 31

- Edinburgh International Festival, August 7 - 31

- The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, August 7 - 29

- The Edinburgh International Book Festival, August 15 - 31

- Edinburgh Mela, August 29-30

- The Scottish International Storytelling Festival, October 23 - November 1

- Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, December 30 - January 1.

TRAVEL FACTS:

- We stayed at the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge Hotel in the old town in a light, airy room with a dinky ‘pod’ bathroom. It opened in January 2014 and is perfectly-placed for festival events.

- 77 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1HN. tel: 0131 292 0000.

- www.ibis.com

- www.edinburghfestivalcity.com