Edinburgh festivals say they are 'optimistic' about making a comeback this summer

Edinburgh's festivals have revealed they are pressing ahead with plans to return this summer - despite the cancellation of Glastonbury and huge doubts over whether restrictions on live events will be lifted by then.

Organisers of the city’s flagship events say they are “optimistic” they will be able to bounce back after they were all called off last April.

Council chiefs said they would be doing all they could to “support the sector and its recovery as safely and as quickly as possible.”

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The Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe, the Tattoo and the book festival are all still due to go ahead in August.

However it could be months before the scale and form of the city’s cultural extravaganza is known.

In recent years, the summer festivals have been worth more than £300 million for the economy.

The Tattoo has been selling tickets for this year’s show since October. Tickets for EIF shows normally go on sale in the spring, while the book festival usually launches its programme in June.

Fringe venues have been able to sell tickets as early as January in recent years, however the final programme is not normally launched until June.

The EIF, the Fringe and the book festival all went ahead in online form last summer.

Francesca Hegyi, executive director at the EIF, said:"We’re still optimistic that the festival will go ahead this summer and are working closely with our colleagues in public health, local authorities and Scottish Government."

A spokesman for the Tattoo said: "At present, our tickets are on sale for 2021 at a reduced capacity and our planning has been well considered in light of Covid risks.

"We’re still looking optimistically to the future and, like all businesses and organisations, we will continue to navigate through the regulations and guidance as it is updated.”A spokeswoman for the Fringe Society said: “We are currently planning for the Fringe to return.

Edinburgh's summer festivals usually end in a spectacular fireworks display above the city. Picture: Gaelle Beri

"It’s still too early to say exactly what it will look like at this stage, and with the situation changing around us so rapidly, it wouldn’t be sensible or fair for us to speculate at the moment.

“Whatever happens, we know the Fringe will exist in one form or another in 2021.

"We’re working with venues, artists and a variety of stakeholders to plan for a range of different scenarios – from socially distanced live performances, to hybrid digital and live performances, to a more robust digital Fringe.

“Public health and safety is essential, and all of our planning is being shaped by government advice.”

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is currently due to go ahead in August.

Book festival director Nick Barley said: “We are putting together our plans for the 2021 festival and working closely with the relevant authorities on the implications of the continuing pandemic."

Donald Wilson, the city council’s culture leader, said: “It would be an understatement to say 2020 was extremely tough for our festivals and events sector.

"As we look ahead to 2021 we will be doing all we can to support the sector and its recovery as safely and as quickly as possible.”

Julia Amour, director of umbrella body Festivals Edinburgh said: “Our festivals are currently working on their 2021 programmes and are planning for all eventualities, with the health and safety of audiences and participants a prime concern. Further announcements will be made in due course.”

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