Edinburgh's Festivals Bring World to Scotland

Every August, Scotland’s capital shuts down for the better part of a month for a series of festivals that celebrate…well, everything. Theater? Check. Music? Check. Books? Why not? According to Fiona Hyslop, Scotland’s Minister for Culture and External Affairs, the population of Edinburgh doubles during the Festival season, which includes the legendary Fringe (2,000 shows!), Book, Art, Mela and Jazz and Blues Festivals. “The world comes to Edinburgh,” Hyslop said proudly when she visited Travel Agent’s New York offices Friday afternoon.

As previously reported, Hyslop is touring America (along with several of her coworkers) promoting Scotland as a vibrant, thriving destination with something to appeal to every taste. (She is pictured here with with the Michael Mao dance troupe, a New York-based group that will be performing at the Fringe Festival in Scotland this year.) "There’s something for everybody,” she said today. And, quite frankly, we’d have to agree. An adventurer can be hiking in the mountains within an hour of leaving a major urban city. Golfers can do their thing just about anywhere (it’s Scotland’s national pastime, after all). Amateur historians can explore antique castles—some of which are in the middle of town—or, for the truly devoted, head to the Orkney Islands to see some of the earliest human settlements in Europe.

But the major draw right now, in the year following Homecoming Scotland, is the Festival season, which will have a theme this year of “The New World.” Hyslop is also promoting a special five-day package put together by Celtic Journeys that includes three nights’ accommodations in Edinburgh, a sightseeing tour, trips to both Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace and three shows from the six Festivals. (Some artists who performed at previous years’ shows include Craig Ferguson, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie and Alan Cumming, who is serving as an ambassador to the Festival this year.) For those who don’t need the full package, the three-show Passport on its own costs $60—half the cost of a single Broadway ticket. Further information on the Passport is available at www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk/traveltrade.

Airfare is not included in the package, Hyslop warned, but did say that Continental is now flying direct from New York to both Edinburgh and Glasgow