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In August 2020 Edinburgh was quiet for the first time in years. The pandemic meant that the city was unable to host its famous festivals last summer. The Royal Mile was devoid of tourists, and the University Central Area stood empty of the famous purple cow.

This summer Edinburgh will be cautiously celebrating the arts once again, through a mixture of online and in person events. With careful attention to Scottish Government guidelines, teams across the University have been working with our partners across the many festivals to contribute and collaborate for the City’s most celebratory month. Here are the University sites that will be hosting our festival friends.

Old College

This year, Old College Quad will offer a venue for the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF). The auditoria will be home to a whole host of events including ‘A Great Disordered Heart’ by Aidan O’Rourke; a concert series and films exploring the relationships Scotland has with Ireland. The event is sponsored by Edinburgh Futures Institute.

To celebrate 70 years of the School of Scottish Studies Archives, there will be a series of Scottish music concerts to celebrate. ‘In the Tradition’ is a collaboration between the School and EIF and will include performances by Rura, one of Scotland’s most popular folk bands, Talisk, the award-winning trio, and singer-songwriter Karine Polwart, who last year recorded one of the University’s Talks for Life.

The Talbot Rice Gallery will also be showing The Normal exhibition. For more information on this, you can read this bulletin feature.

George Square

George Square sees the return of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe venues. On the East side, Assembly Festival will be resurrecting their famous spiegeltent and some outdoor shows in George Square Gardens. On the West side, Underbelly return with a new marquee venue and outdoor performances. They will both also have a number of bars and street food vendors to enjoy.

 Bristo Square

Bristo Square will also host Underbelly this year, with a street theatre stage and a wide selection of food and drink options available.

Teviot Row House will welcome local heroes Gilded Balloon once more and will offer music, theatre and comedy for all ages.

Lauriston Place

For the first time ever, the Edinburgh International Book Festival will be held at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). Lauriston Place will host to both in person and virtual events, as well as a cafe, play area, book shop and a big screen showing some of the live events.

More than 300 writers, artists and thinkers will share their stories, while around 250 events for adults, children and families will take place at the ECA site.

A number of students, staff and alumni are participating in events, including Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Public Health, who shares her insights into the political responses prompted by Covid-19.

The University is sponsoring five events in the programme, including one featuring Bernardine Evaristo – who won the Booker Prize in 2019 for Girl, Woman, Other. Evaristo leads a discussion with Judith Bryan, S I Martin and Nicole Williams, championing the work of Black British writers. Our sponsored events are presented in association with the Edinburgh Futures Institute, RACE.ED, ECA and the Centre for South Asian Studies.

You can read more about the Edinburgh International Book Festival here.

High School Yards

The BBC Edinburgh Festivals pop-up village will be returning to the University this year, and will be based at High School Yards, bringing a flavour of the best the Festivals have to offer via our favourite BBC Radio shows and podcasts, to be broadcast live and recorded in front of an audience.

Staff discounts

Edinburgh International Festival is offering a 30% discount for University staff on tickets for selected events.

Edinburgh International Book Festival is offering a 10% discount on purchases from their book shop.

You can find out more on the staff news webpages.

Images used are from previous Festivals. Photography: Tricia Malley and Ross Gillespie; Paul Dodds