Edinburgh Festival: Art forms will be brought together like never before for this year's revival – Brian Ferguson

With Edinburgh’s festivals juggernaut gathering a head of steam, there is plenty of intrigue building over what lies in store for the city, its major events and all those with a stake in them.

In just under three months, the Scottish capital will be transformed once again to become host to the world’s biggest cultural celebration.

The historic backdrop to Edinburgh’s signature events will be familiar, although much will have changed since they were last staged to full effect in 2019. That change is visible in the city centre, after the transformation at either end of Princes Street with the opening of the new St James Quarter and the demise of Jenners at one end, and the opening of a Johnnie Walker whisky attraction in the former House of Fraser building at the other.

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Change is also afoot on the festival landscape, with the book festival expected to be in full swing at Edinburgh College of Art and a newly announced big venue on Lothian Road, the Central Hall, certain to add to the buzz which will return to the area in August when the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) switches back to its traditional slot for the first time in 15 years.

Phoebe Waller Bridge won a Scotsman Fringe First Award for the stage version of Fleabag in 2013 (Picture: Esme Allen)Phoebe Waller Bridge won a Scotsman Fringe First Award for the stage version of Fleabag in 2013 (Picture: Esme Allen)
Phoebe Waller Bridge won a Scotsman Fringe First Award for the stage version of Fleabag in 2013 (Picture: Esme Allen)

This latter news, somewhat unheralded so far, is potentially one of the most exciting things about August, even if it is also slightly terrifying given what else will be on the go at the same time. The arguments made for moving the EIFF to a mid-summer slot were fairly compelling.

It would have less competition from other events and for media coverage, its travel and accommodation costs would be lower, and it would have a much greater choice of venues to use.

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But it always felt that Edinburgh’s peak festival season was missing something without its celebration of cinema, which dates back just as far as the International Festival and the Fringe.

Despite the best efforts of all those involved in the EIFF since then, it never quite seemed to reach the heights or attract the buzz it used to in August, when its red carpets were very often the centre of attention during the global cultural celebration.

It feels that film and cinema have reclaimed their rightful place in the thick of it again, just in time for the 75th anniversary of Edinburgh’s annual cultural celebrations.

But it is also timely for other reasons.

It feels like the boundaries between art forms have blurred more than ever. Actors, writers, directors, musicians, filmmakers, singers, visual artists and poets are working across them and also forming collaborations with counterparts from worlds that are a lot closer together than they ever used to be.

This should provide a real treat for audiences in Edinburgh, who already have more than 2,000 shows to choose from, even before the book or film festivals announce their programmes.

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But the official launch of a new Screen Fringe showcase, which is aimed at helping film and TV industry executives and talent spotters to see brand new theatre and comedy work this summer, is also an indicator of how important Edinburgh is to the entire entertainment industry.

The prospect that the stars of the future may be on the cusp of being uncovered is a tantalising one, for those performing, producing and on the hunt.



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