Edinburgh festivals bat eyes at London Olympic fans

  • World
  • Friday, 25 Nov 2011

EDINBURGH, (Reuters): The world's biggest annual arts extravaganza is gearing up to lure fans from the London 2012 Olympics up to the Scottish capital for three weeks of comedy, music, art, theatre, the skirl of massed pipe bands and fireworks over Edinburgh castle.

The Edinburgh festivals slot in neatly through August between the London Olympics and the Paralympics in the British capital.

The festivals originated in 1947 as an antidote to the austerity of the post-war years, and now encompasses the International, Fringe, book and jazz festivals and major art exhibitions, with the population of Edinburgh doubling during the month.

International Festival Director Jonathan Mills said the 2012 program would bring in artists from around the world, including Australia, America, Russia, Japan, Europe and the Middle East for its three-week run from August 9.

''In (2012) the UK hosts both the world's greatest cultural events and the world's greatest sporting events,'' he said. The full Edinburgh program will be unveiled next March.

The hugely popular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo will also celebrate the Diamond Jubilee 60th anniversary of Queen's Elizabeth's accession to the British throne with a special ''salute to the Monarch.''

Officials of the rambunctious Fringe Festival said they also have been looking to attract Olympic visitors ''north of the border'' to take in the Fringe, which last summer hosted more than 21,000 performers from around the world in search of fame and fortune.

The Fringe is regarded as the world's biggest annual showcase for new talent in theatre, comedy, song, dance and music and is the Mecca for street performers around the globe.

The three-week performance of the tattoo on the esplanade of the castle overlooking the city of Edinburgh opens on August 3 with its program of military music, including the pipes and drums of the highland battalions, military displays, dance and song.

Tattoo producer Brigadier David Allfrey said next year's 62nd display would include bands from Australia, and such favorites as the ''Top Secret Drum Corps'' from the Swiss City of Basle top display unit of the Norwegian arms forces, the King's Guards and Drill Team.

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