EDINBURGH FESTIVAL: FESTIVAL HOT TICKETS

The Edinburgh Festival is finally under way. There's a month of comedy, dance, film, music and theatre in store and several venues are already boasting record sales. Below is a guide to what you should be booking now to make sure you see this year's most exciting performances.

FILM

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

Cameo 1 (0131 228 4141) 21 Aug

Three students disappear while making a documentary; a year later their cameras are found. The surprise American hit of the year.

GREGORY'S TWO GIRLS

UCI (0131 623 8030) 26 Aug

Bill Forsyth's long-awaited sequel to Gregory's Girl. Twenty years on, John Gordon Sinclair is teaching at his old school and finds himself caught between the attentions of two very different women.

GO

Cameo 1 (0131 228 4141) 16 Aug

Doug Liman's follow up to Swingers hops between three interconnected stories of sex, drugs, guns and gangsters. Other film festival highlights to look out for include The Thomas Crown Affair and Hold Back the Night.

CONCERTS

THE OPENING CONCERT

Usher Hall (0131 473 2000) 15 Aug

Soloists Lisa Milne, Ian Bostridge and Bryn Terfel join the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Edinburgh Festival Chorus to open the International Festival with a performance of Handel's Saul. There is limited availability for this concert and also for Verdi's Requiem and the Vienna Philarmonic conducted by Simon Rattle. But 50 reserved seats will go on sale on the day, from the Hub Ticket centre at Castlehill, Royal Mile.

WOODY HERMAN ORCHESTRA

Queen's Hall (0131 668 2019) tonight

Frank Tiberi leads one of jazz's greatest big bands in a concert that combines ensemble work and soloists.

IVOR CUTLER

Queen's Hall (0131 668 2019) Sat

The poet, playwright, composer, comedian, actor and musician appears as part of the Flux Festival, a music division of the Fringe.

OPERA

MACBETH

Festival Theatre (0131 473 2000) 29 Aug, 1 & 4 Sept

Luc Bondy and Scottish Opera return to the festival with Verdi's version of the Scottish play.

THEATRE

THE NATION'S FAVOURITE: THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF RADIO 1

Pleasance Upstairs (0131 556 6550) to 30 Aug

The behind-the-scenes story of Radio 1 is apparently revealed in this production. An adaptation of Simon Garfield's best-selling novel.

THE RIGHT SIZE

Assembly Music Hall (0131 226 2428) 15-30 Aug

Sean Foley and Hamish McColl perform their comedy about two men trapped in a bathroom.

THE REDUCED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY

Assembly Music Hall (0131 226 2428) to 30 Aug

It's the millennium's turn to be abridged - 1000 years in 100 minutes, performed as a musical.

COMEDY

THE BEST OF SO YOU THINK YOU'RE FUNNY

Backstage I, Gilded Balloon (0131 226 2151) Fri to 30 Aug

Winners and runners-up from the past 12 years of this annual competition (now in its 24th year) return to the festival. Some, now at the top of their trade, began their comedy careers here.

PHIL KAY

Main Theatre, Gilded Balloon (0131 226 2151) 13-28 Aug

Spontaneity and audience interaction are guaranteed in a show which changes every night. What else would you expect from a man who was born to improvise? Also at the Gilded Balloon are Ennio Marchetto, and the Steve Frost Pub Quiz

JASON BYRNE

Pleasance Two (0131 556 6550) 4-30 Aug

Last year's major hit returns with his hilarious quick wit. Other comedy shows appearing at the Pleasance include Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens, Al Murray the Pub Landlord and Rich Hall.

GREG PROOPS

Assembly Music Hall (0131 226 2428) to 19 Aug

American comedian and star of Whose Line is it Anyway? returns to his favourite stamping ground.

Also appearing at the Assembly are Ed Byrne, Phill Jupitus and Hattie Hayridge.

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Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

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