The amazing city that brings world-renowned festivals to your doorstep – Steve Cardownie

The Jazz and Blues Festival carnival is a free event that's fun for all the family. Picture: Greg Macvean
The Jazz and Blues Festival carnival is a free event that's fun for all the family. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Scotland has some great places for a holiday, like Blackness or, indeed, Edinburgh, writes Steve Cardownie.

As a laddie growing up in Leith, I can well remember what it felt like at this time of year – nae school for a start and the prospect of never-ending days of playing football in Vicky Park (weather permitting) and countless opportunities for getting up to all sorts of mischief.

Not for us a trip to Spain, Greece, Turkey or other foreign climes but a fortnight in a rented flat in Blackness, playing in the castle grounds or round the “back beach” which made us feel, as Leithers, that we were in a foreign country, so much so that we returned year after year.

Another one of the highlights was the Royal Navy Club picnic at Port Edgar, sitting on the top deck of the SMT bus, colourful streamers cascading from the windows, filled with anticipation of what the day would bring – a variety of events such as the egg and spoon, three-legged and sack races as well as five-a-side football and other team games.

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All bring back fond memories; but how times have changed as we now see a multitude of offerings for those that choose to stay at home, or who cannot afford to go away for the holidays.

For example, going to a Highland Games is not only a great day out but also provides the opportunity to embrace Scottish culture and cuisine at a reasonable cost.

Built around traditional Highland sports like tossing the caber, tug o’ war and throwing the hammer, they also include Highland dancing and music as well as hosting arts and craft stalls and games. With more than 30 events each month in July and August there is no shortage of choice.

The growth of Edinburgh’s summer festivals now means that all tastes and age groups are catered for.

The Jazz and Blues Festival (12-21 July), the Arts Festival (25 July-25 August), the International Festival, the Fringe Festival (both 2-26 August) and the Tattoo (2-24 August) all offer fantastic experiences that not only attract visitors from all over the world but are enjoyed by city residents.

Thankfully some of the festivals also stage free events during their schedule and these are publicised throughout the media and on their websites, providing accessible “tasters” to delighted audiences.

Edinburgh’s free museums and galleries also open their doors to tourists and city residents alike, allowing visitors to marvel at their fantastic collections. All of this provides me with food for thought and although I still like to visit Port Edgar and Blackness on occasion for the enjoyment that they bring, I also thank my lucky stars that I live in a city that keeps on staging world-renowned festivals and events on my doorstep.