Angus Robertson: The people of Edinburgh should embrace the full-scale return of its festivals

Scotland’s culture secretary has urged the people of Edinburgh to embrace the full-scale revival of its festivals as he hailed their “remarkable” recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

Angus Robertson said the city’s residents should “grab with both hands” the chance to enjoy the “richest range of cultural events in the world.”

And he declared that the festivals offered the perfect opportunity for people to return to live events and shows for the first time since lockdown restrictions were introduced in March 2020.

Mr Robetrtson Edinburgh was able to reclaim the right to describe itself as the world’s leading “festival city” due to the scale of the programmes unveiled in recent months.

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    Although he predicted the comeback of the festivals will be successful, Mr Robertson admitted the one “unknown factor” hanging over them was the extent of the late rush for tickets, which many event organisers and venue operators are relying on.

    At least 4380 festival shows, events and exhibitions will have been staged by the end of August, with the Fringe alone now topping 3400.

    Mr Robertson said: “I think that tells you how resilient the cultural sector is, how ambitious and hard-working the people in the arts community are, and the latent pent-up demand there is to attend events of all kinds.

    “The one unknown factor is the scale of last-minute booking, which has been a common feature for audiences since the lifting of Covid restrictions.

    Angus Robertson is Scotland's Culture Secretary. Picture: Fraser Bremner-Pool/Getty Images

    “Edinburgh’s festivals offer the first opportunity for many people to enjoy live entertainment of all sorts since the pandemic.

    "It’s rare to meet anybody who has no interest in culture at all. In Edinburgh, we have probably the richest range of cultural events in the world – we should grab it with both hands.

    "We have it all on our doorstep in Edinburgh over the next few weeks. It’s hugely exciting and I hope everybody takes the opportunity of dipping their toes into the festival waters.

    "I’m very confident there will be a strong turnout from the home audience, as well as people visiting from near and far, and I’m very confident that the festivals will be successful this year.

    "Given where we were a year ago, or two years ago, you couldn’t have said that with any confidence then.”

    With the city's visual art celebration underway, the next two weeks will see the launch of the International Festival, the Tattoo, the Fringe and the city’s book and film festivals, and an international cultural summit.

    Mr Robertson added: "Part of the reason we have delegations coming here from across the world is because Edinburgh is unique as an international festival city.

    “There are undoubtedly other amazing international festivals that offer the highest level of cultural performances.

    “What Edinburgh offers is the pedigree of 75 years of top international cultural performance across the range of different types of genre and performance. It’s not just one form of cultural offering.

    ”I’m not aware of any other international festival that offers the range of cultural performance across the genres in the way that Edinburgh does.

    "We’re just at the beginning of Edinburgh’s festivals rebounding. I’m confident they will be a tremendous success. But I would reiterate that people should try and see as much as they can during the next few weeks.”

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