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Pre-Festival Stuff for 20132012 | 2011 | 2010

This page is split into two halves. The top section covers the launch of each festival programme for 2013 as they take place plus any early critical feedback:

Edinburgh International Festival
Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
Edinburgh Art Festival
Forest Fringe
Edinburgh Magic Festival

The second half of the page is called Picks and Previews. It contains links to media views on the individual programme launches plus, from June to early August, a digest of links to the critics' recommendations and useful preview articles.

Edinburgh International Festival

It is Tuesday March 12th 2013 and it is cold, there is a biting wind with snow falling in various parts of the UK as winter stubbornly refuses to relax its grip. However, an inner warmth is felt by punters today as the 2013 programme for the Edinburgh International Festival is launched, heralding the start of the festival year for many.

The programme brochure can be viewed online or downloaded in pdf format. The theme this year is technology and the arts. The use of themes is not universally welcomed among the EIF cognoscenti, as can be seen in this article by Andrew Eaton-Lewis in The Scotsman.

Articles on the highlights of the programme can be found in The Scotsman, The List, The Guardian, The Stage and The Herald.

Early reactions from the critics can be found in The Scotsman.

Links to previews, critics' recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page.

This punter's twopenneth

I consider that both the Drama and Dance programmes are somewhat disappointing after the relative heights that were achieved in 2012. That said ... the following are on my current list of possibles: Grid Iron's Leaving Planet Earth and Beckett at the Festival (Drama); plus Scottish Ballet's Dance Odysseys and L.A. Dance Project (Dance). The EIF unfortunately insists on a Visual Arts programme again this year. Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man at the Queen's Gallery (Palace of Holyroodhouse) must be a strong possibility for anybody who has not had a chance to see the exhibition at the Queen's Gallery (Buckingham Palace).

Susan's initial thoughts

I persuaded my American friend Susan, who has been coming to the festival with her husband for over 30 years, to let me have her thoughts once again.

"I am afraid my thoughts on the 2013 EIF festival programme sound like a broken record. Interestingly, the arts section of The Washington Post yesterday was devoted to essays on technology and the arts. I very much have learned to appreciate the application of technology to the arts, especially to the visual ones. Interestingly the essay on the relationship with music wisely stated that technology at its best has been succesfully used to reach out to and creatively communicate with new and existing audiences. In fact, one of the Candadian composers is repeating an exercise he did in Toronto at the Edinburgh Festival. However, I am wondering if the subject is worthy of a theme for the EIF, especially one which every year seems less devoted to maintaining or creating new audiences in the vocal arts and classical music in general.  I would have hoped that the EIF would have acted more upon its own theme by demonstrating how using new technology has brought new and younger audiences to classical music and opera. Where are the young new artists at the EIF? Where are the exciting  new artists from the el systema system as it has spread across nations? I still have problems also with calling the EIF an international festival anymore. Yes, there are performers from many nations represented at the EIF but there no longer is an international audience which has turned to other festivals to hear new and innovative ways to present classical music and the vocal arts. I still ask myself what are the reasons the EIF has changed so much from how it was before the stewardship of Jonathan Mills? Is it just his vision that is different? Is it pressure from those who fund the Festival and who seem to believe classical music is not democratic, despite the growth of el systemas all over the world? Is it that funding is so tight for the EIF and music groups in general that it is becoming impossible to have full blown festivals anymore (but then why are there even more excellent ones every year?) In truth, I think Jonathan Mills could have done a greater service focusing on a theme of the state of international festivals than technology and the arts, as the latter topic is hardly novel....."

"While I am saddened that this year there will hardly be any opera and none of the wonderful vocal arts performances of past years at Greyfriar's, there is much to be excited about. If I could attend the Festival the entire time, I would definitely go see Alexander Nevsky, the Bavarian Radio Symphony, Mitsuko Uchida, Les Musiciens du Louvre, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Russian National Orchestra, the Royal Concertegebouw, the Tonhalle and The Sixteen. Also on my list for Queen's Hall would be Christian Gerhaher, Chiarusco Quartet, Nocolai Langansky, Andrea Haebinger, Christophe Rousset, Veronique Gens, Arditi, Zuckerman, Peirre-Laurent Aimard, and Quatour Ebene. And, of course, I would attend all the opera performances. As I understand these events are selling very well, I can only hope the powers that be at the EIF are taking note and appreciating that  musical and  vocal art performances, with or without technology as a focus, are being greeted with enthusiasm and continue to be much in demand no matter the age of the audience."

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The 2013 programme was "offically" launched on Thursday May 30th, 2013. Tickets for a handful of shows were available as far back as January with the numbers increasing over time, resulting in 1,845 shows being on sale before the official launch. The super-venues were the ones who had pressed for this more relaxed system and they have been the ones who have made the most use of it. Venues such as the Traverse and Summerhall have kept by the old rules of not announcing their programmes until the official launch (the links take you to their announcements). The Traverse also has an online brochure plus a pdf version that can be downloaded.

No Fringe launch would be complete without a liberal ladling of statistics. The inexorable rise in the total number of shows continues. There are 2,871 this year, compared to 2,695 last year ... yet another world record. There will be an estimated 24,107 performers representing 41 countries. The mix across genres has changed slightly with comedy down from 36% of the overall programme last year to 33% this year; theatre up a smidge from 28% to 29%; and there are 713 registered free shows, down around 100 on 2012. Finally, there are 6 less venues in 2013. Further details can be found on the Fringe Society's comprehensive launch document

The first (pre-written) article on the launch seemed to appear in The Scotsman. This was followed later in the day by other media outlets, including The Stage, WhatsonStage, The Guardian and BBC News. A few days later Andrew Eaton-Lewis in The Scotsman gave his first impressions.

My programme brochure arrived in the post just after noon on launch day. It is 392 pages and weighs in at 605g. Arrange to get your copy now if you have not already ordered one.

As it takes everybody, critics and punters alike, time to get their heads round the full programme it may be a week or two before any recommendations appear. When they do they will appear in the picks and previews section at the bottom of this page. One very welcome piece of news for me and other Aurora Nova fans is that it has risen from the ashes and is acting as a production company. Aurora Nova Productions is behind seven shows on this year's Fringe. 

Links to previews, critics' recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page.

This punter's initial thoughts

I have completed my first look through the Fringe programme brochure and associated information. Can you believe it ... there is not a single production of Antigone this year?! 

A browse through the Traverse Theatre's online brochure reveals a strong line-up. David Harrower's Ciara and David Greig's The Events are particular attractions while, as a supporter of The Gate in Notting Hill, Grounded must also be on my list ... not to mention Quietly (Abbey Theatre). In fact, the majority of the programme will find its way onto my shortlist.

At this early stage (June) I am simply trying to establish a solid foundation for my visit, concentrating mainly on curated shows (whether that is with a large or a small c). More speculative choices will come in August when I have more information to work with. Some places where I have been looking for inspiration include: Northern Stage at St. Stephens, the British Council Showcase, the Made in Scotland Showcase, Assembly which has another South African season after last year's success, the IdeasTap Underbelly award and the Summerhall programme. Note that EdinburghGuide.com has a comprehensive article on the Summerhall programme.

Nirbhaya is getting lots of exposure, in part due to the subject matter - it is based on the recent events in Delhi - and in part because Yael Farber, the director of last year's hit show Mies Julie, is directing. Making News is also getting reasonable publicity. This is a satire on how the BBC handles news like the Savile affair. The cast is comprised of comedians including Phil Jupitus. Other items on my initial drama shortlist include Chalk Farm (ThickSkin), There Has Possibly Been an Incident (Royal Exchange) and Solomon and Marion (with Janet Suzman). 

In Dance and Physical Theatre my initial shortlist includes Second Coming, HeLa, Missing, Ménage à Trois and Leo.

I am disappointed that there is not much poetry this year. However, I enjoyed Luke Wright two years ago and plan to see him again this year.

Finally, I have no particular thoughts on comedy at the moment although I have well give Reginald D. Hunter a whirl, not having seen him for 3 or 4 years.

Obviously there is much more to do as we get closer to the festival ... but that is enough to be going on with. Good luck with your own trawling and decision making.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

The programme for the 2013 Book Festival was launched on Thursday June 20th, 2013. The full launch document can be found at the beginning of the press pack while the programme brochure can be downloaded from the Book Festival website home page.

The theme is "30 years back, 30 forward". The first Edinburgh Book Festival was held back in 1983. The programme will include a number of debates in which leading thinkers will put forward their ideas for an improved life 30 years from now in the areas such as the environment, defence, mental health and the arts.

There will be a politician-free look at the independence debate where leading Scottish journalists will identify the key questions that Scots need to consider before casting their votes.

The programme consists of over 700 events with many of the great and the good from the world of books. A selection of the authors who will be present can be found in the various articles on the launch, viz. in The Guardian, The Scotsman, stv.tv and BBC News.

The closing Sunday will feature an event in which crime novelist Ian Rankin and two more of Iain Banks' close friends, Val McDermid and Ken MacLeod, will discuss the work of the author who recently passed away.

Edinburgh International Film Festival

The 2013 programme was launched on Wednesday May 29th, 2013. A preview reel of the programme can be viewed on the festival's website. There is an online version of the brochure, as well as the normal printed version. 

This is the 67th Edinburgh Film Festival and it will showcase 146 features from 53 countries, including 14 World premieres, 6 International premieres and 10 European premieres. Festival strands include "American Dreams" (American independent cinema), "New Realities" (documentary making) and "Not Another Teen Movie" (by 15-19 year-olds for their peers). Various items had been pre-announced, including Breathe In (opening night), Not Another Happy Ending (closing gala) and retrospectives of Richard Fleischer and Jean Grémillon.

Articles on the programme launch can be found in various places, including Screen International, The Scotsman, The List, EdinburghGuide.com and BBC News.

Links to previews, critics' recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page.

Edinburgh Art Festival

The 2013 programme was unveiled on Wednesday April 3rd, 2013.

Here are a few selected highlights from the programme. Sarah Kenchington will use Trinity Apse Kirk for her Wind Pipes for Edinburgh exhibition which will feature 100 decommissioned organ pipes. The Man Ray Portraits exhibition, currently in London, will move to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in June. An exhibition on Mary, Queen of Scots can be seen at the National Museum of Scotland while a major showcase of the Mexican artist, Gabriel Orozco, will be on at the Fruitmarket Gallery. Finally, two items which seem to have appealed to the twitterati ... Flags for EdinburghArtist Peter Liversidge has invited anyone in Edinburgh with a flag pole to fly a white flag which bears the text: HELLO ... and The Complaints Choir of Edinburgh - Composers Daniel Padden and Peter Nicolson invite the people of Edinburgh to “come together and sing their complaints out loud." Further details of the 10 publicly sited works, known collectively as Parley, can be found in this newsletter from the Art Festival.      

Initial articles on the programme can be found in ArtLyst (the most comprehensive), The Scotsman, wow247 and Culture 24.

Note - mention should be made of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition The Mechanics of Man at the Queen's Gallery (Palace of Holyroodhouse) which is part of the EIF Festival.

Links to previews, critics' recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page.

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

The 2013 programme was launched on Tuesday May 21st, 2013. Jools Holland, Tia Fuller, Champian Fulton and the Three B's are among the names who will be appearing at the festival which will consist of 146 concerts sperad over the 10 days. Mardi Gras will take place on Saturday July 20th and the festival carnival will be on Sunday July 21st. The Tron Kirk will act as the festival hub this year. Full details of the programme can be found on the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues website

Articles on the launch can be found in The Scotsman, BBC News, stv.tv and the Edinburgh Reporter.

Links to previews, critics' recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page.

Forest Fringe

Forest Fringe announced details of the programme for its 2013 Edinburgh presence on Monday June 10th, 2013. It will run from August 16th to the 25th, and it will be based at Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Leith this year, its first home since the Forest Cafe became unavailable at the end of 2011. In a packed programme Tim Crouch and Andy Smith will perform what happens to the hope at the end of the evening, a show which will premiere at The Almeida in July, and there is a day-long collaboration with Northern Stage called Make. Do. and Mend. Forest Fringe expresses its gratitude for the generous support of the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and the University of Chichester.

Edinburgh Magic Festival

The 2013 programme was launched on April 23rd, 2013. Full details can be found on the Magic Festival website. The launch was reported in stv-tv and the Edinburgh Reporter. The press release follows ...

Magic Festival 2013 programme launchAs the fourth EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL MAGIC FESTIVAL casts its spell across the Capital, from 28 June - 5 July 2013, audiences are invited to immerse themselves in the surreal magical world between fact and fiction.

Breath-taking illusions and awe inspiring magic from performers across Europe and as far afield as Australia will once again take you to the fun fringes of reality. Classic meets close-up, mindreading defies illusion, cabaret clashes with comedy and levitation renders the impossible possible.

The Magic and Variety Gala Show transforms the beautiful Royal Lyceum Theatre into world of unreality. Compered by THE COLOUR HAM, the finest award winning magicians from around the world are joined by a dragon, a dule of doves and the world’s first magic performing Chihuahua! The Great Lafayette Award makes its third appearance; this year’s recipient is anyone’s guess in what bodes to be a superb evening of contemporary, cutting edge magic.

Speaking ahead of the launch MagicFest Artistic Director, Kevin McMahon said: “The Gala Opening is one of the highlights of MagicFest and I’m really looking forward to welcoming the best, progressive home-grown and international performers here to Edinburgh. Most of the acts are making their Scottish debut.”

Portuguese duo, TA NA MANGA, open the Gala with their multi-awarding winning act; integrating theatre and magic, music and comedy. Frenchman JEROME HELFENSTEIN’s shadow act is filled with subdued, refined, poetic beauty; an emotive journey to new destinations. Spain’s stylish showman and master manipulator, CHARLIE MAG presents his award winning act with live doves making them appear as if from thin air. Imagine Jack Dee in a dragon suit, performing jaw dropping magic, with a cute sidekick and you have PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON and Mr Piffles the Chihuahua! International street performer and winner of last year’s ‘War of the Wizards’, Aussie TONY ROBERTS, makes his MagicFest debut performing his straight jacket escape. Last, but by no means least, are dashing duo of deception and plucky Victorian prestidigitators MORGAN & WEST who travel through time to complete the bill. Once again you can enjoy the Gala afternoon preview show for just £10.

No MagicFest would be complete without its annual intake of budding wizards and wizardesses. MAGIC SCHOOL (aged 7-10) wizardry workshops have attracted pupils from as far afield as Norway, France and across the UK, all keen to learn, create and perform their own magic. Enrol now for the brand new 2.5 hour workshops or 5-day course with fun show for parents. STREET MAGIC MASTERCLASS offers 11-14 years olds the chance to learn some mind-blowing techniques and the secrets behind sleight-of-hand from magic masters FRITZ ALKEMADE from the Netherlands and LUKE EATON from the UK.

MagicFest are delighted to bring one of the most polished and intriguing mind readers to Capital; LUKE JERMAY. Having spent the last 3 years headlining the Las Vegas Strip, Luke was the creative consultant to Derren Brown and the man credited with inspiring CBS’ multi-awarding winning show ‘The Mentalist’.

An adventurous evening out, a delicious three course meal and an immersive magical show are on the MAGIC DINNER menu, once again at the lavish Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh. Wonderland characters bring everyday objects to life, help to find your muchness and promise at least six impossible things before dessert!

Enter the THE SECRET ROOM at Lauriston Castle and travel back in time to a world of clandestine laboratories and hidden passages. The finest Scottish magicians animate the castle’s mysterious past with stories, performances and illusions related to the history of Lauriston and her intriguing owners.

Are you ready to be conned? The master of scams, PAUL WILSON, is back with one of the most immersive, engaging and personal ways to experience magic. Enter the set of BBC’s Real Hustle and prepare to blown away by one of the world’s most respected performers of close-up, sleight-of-hand magic.

Returning to Edinburgh after 3 years absence, pioneer of the alternative magic scene,ALI COOK, brings the WOW factor with his big illusions and beautiful girls. Star of Penn & Teller: Fool Us, Dirty Tricks, Monkey Magic, Psychic Secrets Revealed with Derren Brown and Jerry Sadowitz’s Jerry@Trick sketch show, Ali’s hugely impressive show is a spectacle to behold.

Kevin added: “For our fourth year we're really happy to increase access to MagicFest with a series of free events in the line-up. We've also launched a Patron's Programme this year allowing magic lovers to get even closer to the festival without revealing all the secrets!”

Immerse yourself in the surreal magical world between fact and fiction and have fun at the fourth Edinburgh International Magic Festival from the 28 June – 5 July.

Picks and Previews for 2013

Links to programme launches, preview articles, critics' recommendations and any other relevant info will be posted below until early August.

Date posted Item Details
March 12th 2013 Initial reaction on the EIF programme from The Scotsman's critics
June 1st 2013 Initial "10 must-see Fringe shows" from The Scotsman
June 7th 2013 Comprehensive set of Fringe top tips from Lyn Gardner in The Guardian
June 11th 2013The List - 5 reasons to see films in the Richard Fleischer retrospective at EIFF 2013
June 13th 2013Film Festival Preview by Alistair Harkness in The Scotsman
June 17th 2013Preview of Man Ray exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in The Scotsman
June 19th 2013Top 10 to see at the Film Festival in stv.tv
June 24th 2013Preview of Man Ray exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Art Daily
June 24th 2013Preview of Mary, Queen of Scots exhibition at the National Museum in The Scotsman
July 16th 2013The Guardian critics' picks for the Edinburgh Festival
July 17th 2013Dance and Physical Theatre recommendations from Katie Columbus in The Stage
July 17th 2013Cross The Tracks strand of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
July 17th 2013Top ten comedy shows on The Fringe in The Scotsman
July 17th 2013Article by Mark Fisher in The List on Fringe shows about prominent women in Eastern Europe
July 21st 201320 best shows across the Edinburgh Festival in The List
July 21st 2013I tend not to provide links to previews of individual shows. The best place to find them this year is The List.
July 22nd 2013Edinburgh Festivals: 50 must-see events in The Scotsman
July 22nd 2013Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts in The Scotsman
July 22nd 2013Video: Mary Queen of Scots exhibition in The Scotsman
July 23rd 2013Our top picks for the Fringe and EIF in Whatsonstage.com
July 24th 2013Fringe top ten music acts in the Edinburgh Evening News
July 24th 2013Programme highlights from 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival in The List
July 24th 2013Children's event highlights at 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival in The List
July 24th 2013Dance highlights at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival in The List
July 26th 201310 top comedians to catch at Edinburgh Fringe 2013 in The Scotsman
July 26th 2013Preview of Witches and Wicked Bodies at the Modern Art Gallery in The Scotsman
July 26th 2013Article on artist Peter Doig in the NY Times
July 26th 2013Preview of Mary Queen of Scots exhibition at the National Museum in Artdaily.org
July 26th 2013Fringe theatre highlights in Timeout
July 27th 2013Preview and picks in The Independent
July 28th 2013Various short articles on Fringe comedy in Chortle
July 28th 2013Latest tips from Lyn Gardner in The Guardian
July 29th 2013A music guide to Edinburgh during the Festival in the Pop Cop
July 29th 201310 children's shows to keep kids entertained at the Edinburgh Festival in The Scotsman
July 29th 2013Preview of Gabriel Orozco's exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery in The List
July 30th 2013Sketch-based comedy by Julian Hall in The List
July 31st 2013Preview of Leonardo Da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man at the Queen's Gallery Holyrood in The Telegraph
July 31st 2013Edinburgh music scene on the Fringe in The Scotsman
Aug 1st 2013Flavours of the Edinburgh International Festival in The Skinny
Aug 1st 2013Day planner for Edinburgh Free Fringe 2013 in The List
Aug 1st 2013The Good Word: Edinburgh International Book Festival 2013 in The Skinny