Steve Cardownie: Edinburgh lucky to have Festival

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The month of August is here, which can mean only one thing. The city is awash with colour and that unique Edinburgh summer festival buzz is already in the air.

Today marks the beginning of the Art Festival, tomorrow the Fringe and the Tattoo get under way with the International and Book Festivals hot on their heels next week. In addition, there is the increasingly popular Mela Festival, which makes a welcome return to Leith later in the month.

The curtain has just come down on another fabulous Jazz & Blues Festival, which kicked off with the city’s second successive sun-kissed Festivals Cavalcade a fortnight ago. With the city council’s help, this musical event is fast becoming a firm favourite in the city’s packed events calendar.

The Tattoo will welcome another sell-out audience of 220,000 over its three-week run while the Fringe will be the biggest and best yet with 2871 shows performed by 24,107 artists in 273 venues – a 6.5 per cent increase on last year.

Patti Smith, Leonardo da Vinci and a Chinese heavy-metal Coriolanus are among the highlights of the International Festival, which will once again be drawn dramatically to a close by the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert in Princes Street Gardens.

This year’s International Book Festival celebrates an astonishing generation of literary talent and marks 30 years since the gates of Charlotte Square Gardens first opened to welcome authors and book lovers from around the world.

Meanwhile, just across the road, the animation of George Street will help to enhance still further the fantastic festival vibe brought back to the New Town following the reopening of the Assembly Rooms and introduction of the Spiegeltent last year.

August is so important for Edinburgh socially, culturally, economically and reputationally. We quite rightly pride ourselves as being The Festivals City, a well deserved tag but one that we must not and will not take for granted.

This is why the council continues to maintain and enhance its support for our world-famous festivals – all year round.

I would encourage you to take advantage of everything your city has on offer in the month ahead. People travel from across the globe to sample a summer in Edinburgh – we are lucky enough to have it right here on our doorstep.

Councillor Steve Cardownie is the city’s festivals and events champion