When my friends say they’re going to the ‘Edinburgh Festival’ I’m tempted to ask – which one? These days there’s a whole host of them year round – 12, in fact, from the Jazz and Blues fest to the Storytelling to the famous Fringe. So how to enjoy more of Edinburgh festivals and other fancies? Basically, if you’re off to the Scottish capital, chances are you will have a chance to sample special cultural events while you’re at it, along with all the iconic tourist attractions such as the ancient castle looming elegantly over Princes Street.
As a film critic, one of my personal favourites is the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June – so that’s when I headed to the city to pick out some of the top spots and hidden gems off the beaten track. My favourite movies included the edgy British, comedy Black Mountain Poets, the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy and the hip San Francisco film Diary Of A Teenage Girl. But when I wasn’t in a cinema, this is what turned my head…
National Galleries Of Scotland
The Scottish National Gallery on The Mound in central Edinburgh is a wonderful gallery in a neoclassical building – but many tourists miss the fact that it has a hip younger sister slightly out of town, the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art. Its second building is currently playing host to a fascinating exhibit,
The Amazing World Of M.C. Escher, and there’s much more modern art to enjoy in both museums. On a sunny day, a walk here is a must: it’s located in the picture-perfect Dean Village, which feels more like Prague than Edinburgh and is accessible via a pleasant stroll along the river.
If you’re attending a festival event at the famous Usher Hall and fancy a little indulgence, pop into the charming Mademoiselle Macaron on Grindlay Street. It’s a cute little cafe that was formed after its macarons became a huge hit at local markets – now you can sit down and enjoy them in a colourful setting with wifi and a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Try the salted caramel or even the beer-inspired Innus & Gun macaron.
Here’s one for sweet tooths who want more than a hint of liquor with their afternoon tea. One Square at the Sheraton Hotel has a special Caorrun Gin-Tastic Afternoon tea complete with a welcome gin cocktail (delicious), a choice of exotic teas and tasty tiered treats including Gin & Tonic mousse, rose macarons infused with Caorunn Gin and chocolate & juniper truffles. It’s right next to the Filmhouse, so perfect for those attending the film festival.
It’s easy for a visitor to Edinburgh to stick around the Royal Mile and Princes Street, but do remember there are other neighbourhoods – and the up and coming Leith is well worth a visit. Home to many a hipster, it is also the spot to try out trendy new eateries, such as V Deep, recently opened by the broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli.
He welcomed us into his cool curry house with a quip and an expert eye for a craft beer, another of this quirky place’s specialities. The decor reflects his personal style while the tracksuit-clad staff are as cheerful and fun as the ‘guilty pleasures’ music Hardeep puts on. The chilli nan bread is the biggest we’ve ever attempted to eat, and the small curry plates are as delicious as they are unusual – venison curry meat balls anyone?
Edinburgh festivals for your diary
Fancy a trip to Edinburgh? Here’s a handy list of festivals for you:
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (17th – 26th July 2015)
Edinburgh Art Festival 30th July – 30th August 2015
Edinburgh International Festival 7 – 31 August 2015
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 7th -29th August 2015
Edinburgh Festival Fringe 7th – 31st August 2015
Edinburgh International Book Festival 15th – 31st Aug 2015
Edinburgh Mela (29th and 30th August 2015)
The Scottish International Storytelling Festival (23rd October – 1 November 2015)
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (30th December 2015 – 1st January 2016)
Edinburgh International Science Festival (26th March – 10 April 2016)
The Imaginate Festival (30th May – 5th June 2016)
Edinburgh International Film Festival (June 2016)
How can I find more information on Edinburgh festivals and other fancies?
For more information, see: