Landform by Charles Jencks outside the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s Modern One.
A local’s guide to navigating the world’s biggest arts festival…
Capital cities often have a square at its centre. Edinburgh has an 800 year old castle. On a volcano. Okay the volcano’s extinct, but still. There’s so much creativity on display before setting foot in a museum or gallery.
This year marks the 20th year I’ve been making and enjoying art in Edinburgh. Every August my creative genes get rekindled when the entire arts universe lands in my home town. My 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival guide highlights the shows and events I’m most excited about while revealing the places and experiences that make this ‘Athens of the North’ such a special place to visit.
Adults: £11-£13 | 25 & under: £8.50-£7.50 | Open daily 10am-5pm
One of my favourite mediums to work with meets one of my favourite museums in Edinburgh. Unbelievably this is the first survey exhibition of collage to take place anywhere in the world. With over 250 works the show spans a period of more than 400 years. Matisse, Miró, Hannah Höch and other 20th century heavyweights jostle for space among works by amateur, professional and unknown artists.
Show Info & Tickets | Venue Location
Antony Gormley’s “6 Times”. One of six life-sized figures positioned between the Gallery of Modern Art and the sea.
Inside tip: Have lunch at Nok’s Kitchen in Stockbridge for amazingly good value Thai food (£10.50 for 2 courses) then take a 20 minute stroll along the Water of Leith (spot the Antony Gormley sculpture in the water from the bridge by the traffic lights) before passing through the picturesque Dean Village on your way to the National Gallery of Modern Art, Modern Two (the building you’ll reach first).
Adults: £8.50-£10.50 | under 18: £4.50-£6.50 | 9-26 Aug: 2pm & 8pm
C Venues are a great example of the diversity of artists making Edinburgh their home for August. Featuring over 100 shows including Balearic performance and video artist Concha Vidal performing Wet. An intriguing show based on the relationship between Krasner & Pollock and its mirroring of what it means to be a female painter in a patriarchal society. First saw Concha’s work on Vimeo and wasn’t surprised to learn of her painting background – a rich visual language underpins the confluence of theatre, dance and video art. Also performing Hair of the Wild in a real hair salon (featured in The Guardian’s 50 Shows To See) taking viewers on a journey through the hair of different people.
Wet: Tickets | Location | Hair Of The Wild: Tickets | Location
The largest public celebration of the written word in the world at Charlotte Square, Edinburgh.
Inside tip: Get pre-show lunch at Bross Bagels for one of the best bagels in the UK order a Westie to go (£5.75) then unwrap and unwind in the gardens of the International Book Festival before catching Wet at 2pm round the corner.
Adults: £8.10 | Children 4-16: £4.50 | Students: £4.50
The perfect revitaliser for festival overload awaits at contemporary art park Jupiter Artland. Pack a picnic (or brave the busy cafe) then hop on the X23 at Princes Street (or book a free Thursday bus) and be transported to 100 acres of art infused woodland and meadows in the grounds of a 17th Century Manor House. Weave your way over Charles Jencks Cells Of Life landforms then follow the sculpture trail for artworks from Andy Goldsworthy to Cornelia Parker.
Venue Info & Tickets | Bus Route
Inside tip: For the closest thing to Glastonbury at the Edinburgh Festival spend the weekend of August 23-25 at Jupiter Rising for a left field line up of bands from The Comet Is Coming to The Vaselines… plus art, film, workshops, wild swimming and more. Tickets for weekend camping are £85 adults, kids free.
More Info & Tickets
“Every city in the world needs a Summerhall ” said Paul Morley on the BBC’s Review Show and I couldn’t agree more. A short walk from the centre of town through the Meadows, Summerhall is so much more than just a venue, the former Veterinary College is a thriving hub of communal creativity and is never more fully itself than during the festival. Go for the theatre, music and dance but don’t overlook these environmental themed art shows: Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times photographer Josh Haner’s ‘Carbon Casualties’ presents a fascinating narrative on climate change while Extinction Rebellion’s exhibition in the lower galleries will be inviting visitors to engage with their message.
Venue Info & Tickets | Venue Location
Inside tip: Beyond the doors past Summerhall’s reception lies a buzzing beer garden, quality food stalls and the entrance to one of my favourite bar/cafe’s in Edinburgh – The Royal Dick. Once the Small Animal Hospital of the Dick Vet School it now features an on-site brewery and Gin distillery along with many of the original Vet School fittings and quirky art displays. With extended festival opening hours it’s the ideal place for food, drinks and festival atmosphere.
Adults: £15.00 | under 26: £11.25 | students & under 18: £7.50 | 9-26 Aug
Run the gauntlet of festival flyers on the Royal Mile and last thing you’ll associate with the Edinburgh Festival is an intimate experience. Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller might change that perception in a sensual twilight trip through Edinburgh’s Old Town. Cardiff’s voice will lead you on a one-on-one video walk (with a three-dimensional sound experience) through Edinburgh past and present. Couldn’t quite picture the experience until watching this mesmerising clip from their Alter Bahnhof Video Walk for documenta 13. Book a 1 hour slot from 8-10pm at the link below.
Show Info & Tickets | Venue Location
Inside tip: Arguing over the best Indian restaurant in Edinburgh can bring the knives out but few would disagree that Dishoom is right up there. A short walk from the Fruitmarket Gallery it’s the ideal place for a special pre or post-show meal (was also blown away by the food and service at Mother India if you need a Plan B). Join locals and visitors for delicious Indian food inspired by the Irani cafes of 20th Century Bombay. What’s not so well known is the atmospheric cocktail bar hidden below the restaurant, The Permit Room is a gem of a place that will make you feel like you’ve properly escaped your daily life thus deserving a special tipple from their 1950’s themed menu.
With thousands of shows to choose from my 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival Guide was only ever going to reveal the tiniest tip of the iceberg but I hope it provides a useful jumping off point for a wonderful festival experience!