Curtains up on festivals

Edinburgh’s world famous festival season is about to begin.

Bristo Square at night during the Festival

As the city swells to twice its size with performers and arts lovers from around the world, the University once more plays its part.

The University is heavily involved in almost every festival - providing venues and participants.

Here is a brief overview of what it is up to this August.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Charlotte Square once more hosts the world’s largest celebration of the written word. Tucked amid the 750 events, the University will provide some of its most stimulating speakers and moments.

Edinburgh Art Festival

This relative new kid on the festival’s block is going from strength to strength.

It launches its first ever pavilion in St Andrew Square this year.

The University is hosting several exhibitions and events.

Anish Kapoor, Untitled, 2010
  • Anish Kapoor, one of the world’s most famous sculptors, will show 2010’s Untitled, a monumental blood-red wax bell, in Edinburgh College of Art’s sculpture court.
  • Also at the College, photographer Norman McBeath has collaborated with poet Robert Crawford on Bodybags/Simonides.
  • Tent Gallery at the College’s Evolution House will exhibit new work by Scottish, Dutch, Japanese and American artists.
  • German artist Anton Henning’s first solo show in Scotland will transform the Talbot Rice Gallery at Old College.
  • Also on show at the Talbot Rice will be a series of miniature paintings from 19th century India, curated from the University’s collection.
  • Inspace, in the Informatics Forum, will host Left To My Own Devices, a celebration and exploration of device art from China and Japan. It will also host Detours, a series of events asking comedians and artists to respond.

Festival of Politics

Housed in the Scottish Parliament, this festival will draw upon expertise and insight from University experts.

  • Dr Fiona Mackay will host a debate on whether gender balance in politics should be enforced via compulsory quotas.
  • The University’s Academy of Government is sponsoring a debate on whether the internet is good for democracy.
  • Professor Peter Higgins will take part in a discussion on whether schools are inspiring pupils to reach their sporting potential ahead of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
  • Social media’s impact on human rights will be explored by the University’s rector, journalist Iain Macwhirter.

Edinburgh International Festival

Shanghai Peking Opera Group - The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan

As part of the festival's focus on the Far East, Professor Natascha Gentz, head of Asian Studies and director of the Confucius Institute will chair a talk, Contemporary Chinese Thought.

The event features controversial Chinese intellectual Wang Hui, one of the students who protested at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Professor Gentz was also a great consultant for the festival. She helped source contributors for the Continental Shifts series.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With 43 different theatre and performance spaces in use, the University is the Fringe’s largest landlord.

Last year, nearly a million tickets were sold for performances in University buildings.

In a new development, the University’s Visitor Centre on Charles Street will sell Fringe tickets for the first time.

The Festival of Spirituality and Peace

Founded after the 9/11 attacks to foster understanding between faiths, the festival has organised events with University’s Prince Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World.

  • Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ will be in conversation with Professor Hugh Goddard.
  • The impact of social media and Al Jazeera on the Arab Spring will be debated in the event, How To Start A Revolution.
  • And the legacy of this year’s uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East will be discussed at The Arab Spring: Hope For All?

Jungle City

Hornbill sculpture overlooks Scott Monument as part of the Jungle City exhibition.

While not strictly part of any single festival, Jungle City launches at the Royal Botanic Garden in mid August.

More than 100 life size animal sculptures will colonise the Gardens before moving out into the city in September.

Many will be sited at spots around the University. The aim is to raise £1 million for animal charities.


Photography: Anish Kapoor, Untitled, 2010, courtesy the artist. Shanghai Peking Opera Group, courtesy Edinburgh International Festival.

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