TRAVEL: CITY OF FESTIVALS
Three things immediately strike you when you first arrive in Edinburgh. The first that it is architecturally stunning. A Unesco World Heritage site, the streets and stone buildings are almost theme park like in their perfection with the castle sat overlooking it all in fortified magnificence.
The second thing that hits you is that Edinburgh is wee! This is a city you can whizz around by walking but should the weather turn or your feet ache from all that exploring, flagging down a cab or grabbing an Uber won’t break the bank. It means you can cram a lot of sight-seeing into one weekend and, believe me, there is a lot to see! The third and final thing that smacks you round the chops and leaves a huge smile on your face is the huge amount of tartan and toffee shops! If you’re part of a long-lost clan or just have a penchant for plaid and sticky treats then Edinburgh will fulfil all of your shopping desires and then some.
Recognised as the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century, the city is the United Kingdom’s second most popular tourist destination, attracting over one million overseas visitors each year. Known as the City of Festivals, Edinburgh hosts 6 festivals in August alone meaning every visit offers pleasure trippers a fresh and alternative experience.
Our arrival in the city coincided with the city’s Annual Jazz and Blues Festival; the biggest festival of its kind in Britain that sees some of the best international musicians rub shoulders with top Scottish talent to present unique collaborations and outstanding musicianship in over 170 gigs in just 10 days. This year’s festival takes place from the 13th to 21st July in theatres, concert venues, bars and even a vintage, art deco big top tent, known as a speigeltent, erected in the city’s Princess Street Gardens.
We were lucky enough to visit this mirrored paradise to enjoy a boozy, bluesy and bawdy evening of music from Davina and The Vagabonds. Full of southern charm, Davina and her band swaggered through a riotous show of rollicking tunes inspired by the likes of Fats Domino, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Tom Waits and Amy Winehouse. She’s performing for two night’s only at this year’s festival (19th & 20th July) and is undoubtedly a must see act.
Other miss it or miss out events for this year’s festival include Musical virtuoso and legendary television presenter Jools Holland and his much-loved Rhythm & Blues Orchestra with his trademark boogie-woogie party on 13th July. Joining the band on stage will be fan favourites Ruby Turner, Louise Marshall and Rosie Mae on vocals, plus Soft Cell singer, Marc Almond 18th July sees the sensational 21-piece Bratislava Hot Serenaders play vintage swing and hot jazz and dance music from the 20s and 30s with extraordinary authenticity and pizazz. Brass, reeds and violin players combine to play the sweet and hot music that dazzled pre-war Europe, transporting audiences with brilliant musicianship, period dress, and all the genuine style of the period.
Also not to be missed is the Average White Band on the 21st July who return to the festival after their now legendary 2016 show. Founder members Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre, front the group, and keep the flame of the classic sound, distilling their special blend of R’n’B, Jazz, Soul, and Motown into a potent funky mix.
For this year’s full festival line up and to get tickets visit
MUST SEE EDINBURGH
A trip to Edinburgh is not complete without visiting Edinburgh Castle and the Crown Jewels, Greyfriars Bobby, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the beautiful Georgian Newtown and Edinburgh’s spooky old town with its many ghost hunts and haunted happenings.