Festival fever arrives in Edinburgh

Posted on: 04 August 2010 by Mark O'haire

This week sees the start of the world famous Edinburgh Fringe, a festival which throughout August will bring together a huge variety of performing arts.

EdinburghFrom major stand-up tours and renowned live concerts, to underground puppetry and backstreet fire breathing, this year's festival is set to be the biggest and most diverse yet.

Taking in some 260 venues, with over 2,400 shows, The Fringe 2010 will consume the city, sprawling far from the iconic Royal Mile and drawing visitors from across the globe - a huge boost to the British tourist trade and a key pointer to the future careers of some of the world's biggest performers.

Voted 'favourite UK city' at the Guardian/Observer awards 2009 for the tenth consecutive year, Edinburgh clearly has so much to offer its visitors. From designer shopping to Michelin star restaurants, world-class visitor attractions, glorious Georgian architecture and sweeping surrounding countryside, Edinburgh and the Lothians offer the perfect destination.

While many tourists to the city are drawn in by the absorbing Royal Mile, itself a major scene of frivolity during the Fringe, Edinburgh's real charm becomes apparent when you delve a little deeper. The city is steeped in history, and not just that surrounding its imposing castle, which sits atop the volcanic Castle Rock, dominating the city's skyline. A UNESCO City of Literature for its rich literary past, as well as one of the keys centres for the Renaissance, Edinburgh's place in the history books is well established.

The history of the Fringe is itself an interesting one, one which has shaped the landscape of popular entertainment since its inception in 1947. It was here that Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Eddie Izzard, Robin Williams, Jude Law, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie launched their careers, and it's the place where an unpublished JK Rowling first read Harry Potter to a group of 20 children.

With this year's festival almost upon us we thought we'd take a look at some of the acts hotly tipped to set the Fringe alight in 2010:

Josie Long

Winner of the Perrier Best Newcomer in 2006, but absent from the Fringe last year, Josie Long's 2010 performance has been eagerly anticipated. Her show, 'Be Honourable!', takes a look at political activism, talking to strangers and breakfast blogs.

Where & When: Just the Tonic at the Caves, 5 - 29 August 2010.

Beautiful Burnout

This is a co-production between National Theatre of Scotland and physical theatre company Frantic. Set in a Glasgow boxing gym and with a script by Bryony Lavery, who herself has a good reputation for event theatre, this show looks very promising indeed.

Where & When: Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 29th August 2010.

Hit Me! The Life and Rhymes of Ian Drury

Following its acclaimed West End run this powerful bio-drama, penned and directed by Jeff Merrifield, is embarking on its first UK tour, starting with a Fringe run between 4 -30 of August 2010.

Chris Addison

Ammando Iannuci's geeky civil servant is back in Edinburgh for the first time in five years. Covering topics as diverse as UGG boots and the BNP his latest show is whacky yet compelling, offering much "daftness, whimsy and smartasery".

Where & When: Assembly at George St, 16 - 30 August 2010.

DBC Pierre

In a rare public outing for Booker prize winning writer ('Vernon God Little' 2003), this is a chance to hear extracts from his third novel, 'Lights Out in Wonderland', before its publication in September.

Where & When: Charlotte Square Gardens, 22 August 2010.

Gutted

Based on the book written by Danielle Ward, and billed as 'Glee' meets 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', this "revenger's musical" offers a who's who cast, including Colin Hoult, Sara Pascoe, Doc Brown and The Penny Dreadfuls.

Where & When: Assembly at George Street, 8 - 29 August 2010.

Sara Pascoe: Sara Pascoe vs Her Ego

An Edinburgh Fringe first-timer, Sara Pascoe is clever and dark comedian. Appearing on television in the likes of 'Free Agents', 'The Thick of It' and 'Being Human', Pascoe Fringe debut will no doubt be met with wide intrigue.

Where & When: Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 30 August 2010.

Doc Brown: Unfamous

The first solo Fringe show from Doc Brown (below) is another milestone on his journey from rapper to comedian, which has recently seen him appear in the sitcoms 'Rev' and 'Miranda'. 'Unfamous' will describe why the brother of the novelist Zadie Smith moved away from sharing stages with the likes of Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse to playing hot Fringe venues instead.

Where & When: Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 29 August 2010.

Abandoman: Pic 'n' Mixtape

Dominating this year's final of the influential Hackney Empire New Act of the Year award, Adandoman's charisma and hectic musical skits are not to be missed. As they aim for further success their show at this year's Fringe promises to build an album of "the greatest songs never written" from audience suggestions.

Where & When: Pleasance Courtyard Cellar, 4 - 29 August 2010.

Jupiter Artland

After a few weeks in the frenzy that is the Royal Mile you may well be looking for an escape. Cue Jupiter Artland, an exhibition set in 80 acres of woodland in Wilkieston, with commissions from Nathan Coley, Jim Lambie and Cornelia Parker, who has created a 9m-high steel sculpture of a gun, inspired by Gainsborough's 'Mr and Mrs Andrews'.

Where & When: To 12 September 2010.

For full listings of what's happening at the Fringe over the next month visit the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website, and for useful information on visiting the city try the This Is My Edinburgh wesbite.

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