LET’S FACE it, a lot of people in Edinburgh like to have a grumble during the August festival period. The pavements are busy, the buses are full and the roads often gridlocked.
And you can’t even get a seat in the restaurant that you patronise the other 11 months of the year.
OK, point taken – there are downsides. But what a place this Festival City is.
Even with the Olympics in London this summer – which some predicted would result in a major dip in audiences – the Fringe delivered 1.85 million ticket sales, the second highest in its history.
There were 42,000 performances in the city, across 279 venues, and 1418 world premieres. The benefit? A whopping £142 million for the city’s economy.
The always-brilliant Edinburgh International Book Festival delivered audiences on a par with 2011, while early indications are that the Edinburgh International Festival has increased its sales by eight per cent, with a conscious attempt from director Jonathan Mills to reach out to more mainstream audiences through productions such as My Fair Lady.
And let’s not forget the sell-out Tattoo, the Art Festival, the Television Festival and the Jazz and Blues Festival.
And tomorrow we have the Virgin Money fireworks concert, a fitting finale that is loved by people from all quarters of Scotland’s capital and beyond.
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop was right when she said Edinburgh’s status as the pre-eminent festival city in the world has been cemented this summer.
The return of the Assembly Rooms and the Spiegeltent on George Street, for example, brought a fantastic atmosphere to the city centre, and a balance to the huge mix of activities in the university area to the south.
The cultural Olympics happen annually. And they are in Edinburgh, the greatest city in the world. Our city.
If they were somewhere else we would be spending millions bidding for them.
But thanks to the legacy left by others, we have the gold medal. So let’s embrace it, support it and be proud of it.