By Farzana Haque
Aug 1st to 25th – Mark your dates for one of the best art and theatre festivals of the world!
Festivals… India’s so full of them, we must have one every day! As much as we enjoy celebrating them in our home country, it’s interesting to know that there are many festivals celebrated around the world, and amongst a few avid travellers a fetish to visit them. They are definitely not all Religious, while a few could have started with some tradition or the other, many are related to the customs of the place, the season, the sport, music genres, films, food, drink and even education! To name a few which would certainly ring a bell for most of you are the La Tomatina festival, Sundance festival, Mardi Gras New Orleans, Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, the famous Lantern festival in Taiwan, Oktoberfest.
In my visit to Scotland last summer in August, a family reunion of sorts, we were driving across the country from our base at Killin and ended the trip with a stay at Edinburgh. This was around the 18th of August. This Scottish town, famous world over for its University, its Arts and Architecture program and of course the Edinburgh castle, just bowled us over. What a beautiful town, a pleasure to explore on foot the many museums, historical buildings and markets. But what luck! We happened to be bang in the middle of the famous FRINGE FESTIVAL. It goes on from the 1st to the 25th of August and it’s the largest street art and theatre festival in the world! There are over 3000 shows to choose from around the world and the entire city’s restaurants, pubs and halls participate in holding these shows.
The most interesting part of the Fringe festival is that combined with the shows, is the street fair on The Royal Mile, an entire stretch of road that’s converted into a non-traffic zone with a full carnival atmosphere. All the participants from across the world are selling their shows on this street in the most innovative ways… you have human statues, actual scenes from Shakespeare being played out, music fests, gory scenes, comedy all of it showcased to gain your attention. A square at the Royal Mile is converted into a kind of stage and one of the best acts we saw was by an Argentinian comedian cum dancer, you can’t really get enough of it.
Yes for sure Indians also participate, so there were some Indian acts too! Besides this there are a lot of quaint shops and stalls selling Scottish good, curios, bag piper, kilts, chocolates and antiquities. You hardly realize how you’ve passed the day meandering in between these and the show people.
In the snaps you see a blue colour lady statue, well she’s live and acting, most amazing. Each act is a total surprise.
If you are planning a visit to the UK this summer, especially in August… do drop into Edinburgh and catch the FRINGE, it’s certainly a must do on a long list of must see’s, must do’s of travel. You’ll not only have fun, but get to see so many cultures and theatre from across the world, it’ll only leave you wanting more.
Written by: Farzana Haque (The Wanderers, Nagpur)