Edinburgh Festival's first few days have been jaw-dropping and poignant, masterful and amusing – Angus Robertson MSP

Edinburgh’s festivals are back with a bang. The city is buzzing. Visitors and Edinburgh residents alike are turning out for events in venues large and small across the Scottish Capital.

In this special 75th anniversary year for the Edinburgh International Festival, Festival Fringe and International Film Festival, it is particularly pleasing to see big audiences return to events after years impacted by the Covid pandemic.

In recent days, signature shows have launched the 2022 festivals with maximum impact. Some 15,000 people were at BT Murrayfield Stadium to see the jaw-dropping EIFF opening show Macro, a stunning fusion of circus, dance and music.

A 30-strong Australian troupe teamed up with the National Youth Choir of Scotland and traditional Scottish musicians for a stunning performance. There was music, projections, drums and a spectacular light show as well as a heart-in-mouth display of skill, daring and superhuman coordination.

In another free event for the public, the Usher Hall was full to hear the solidarity performance by the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, which was made up of the country’s finest classical performers.

The poignant concert raised funds for the Scottish Refugee Council to help displaced Ukrainians and included music by Sylvestrov, Chopin, Verdi, Dvorak and a moving arrangement of the Ukrainian national anthem.

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EIF theatre review: Alan Cumming in Burn

More than 300 Ukrainians living in Scotland were in the audience to hear the concert conducted by Keri-Lynn Wilson with the piano soloist Anna Fedorova and soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska.

Burn, starring Alan Cumming, is a 'must see' show (Picture: Lawrence Winram)

In the Kings Theatre, one of Scotland’s greatest talents, Alan Cumming, is wowing audiences with his outstanding solo performance in ‘Burn’, which one reviewer has described as a “masterful multimedia biography of Robert Burns”. No wonder there was not a spare seat in the house when I saw the National Theatre of Scotland performance with its fantastic script, choreography, music and set. It is simply a ‘must see’. Try and get tickets as soon as you can.

For the first time in a long while, I was at the Tattoo to watch the best of Scottish military music, along with international acts from Switzerland, Mexico, USA and New Zealand. It was great to join an appreciative audience largely of visitors to Scotland, including my fellow German-Scottish colleague David McAllister and his family. The organisation that goes into the Tattoo is really quite something, and a huge thanks goes to the whole team.

I’ve had the good fortune to see a number of other excellent shows, including ‘Pain and I’ by the talented Sarah Hopfinger at Summerhall and have also taken my kids to see ‘The Smeds and the Smoos’ by Julia Donaldson at the Pleasance. While at the Pleasance, I bumped into my old pal Matt Forde, who together with Susie McCabe, is at the top of my list for comedy performances at the Fringe this year.

Only a few days have passed since the start of the EIF, Fringe, Tattoo and Art Festival with the Film Festival and Book Festival starting shortly. Scotland’s Capital is blessed to have the best festivals in the world.

No matter what your interests are, there is something there for you. If you haven’t yet had a look at what’s on, please do. Together let’s make this 75th anniversary year for the Edinburgh festivals a roaring success.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary