Edinburgh: The best of the fest and how to find it

The shows, the restaurants, the pubs. Your guide to all Auld Reekie has to offer
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The Independent Online

Dance and Theatre

1. Scottish Ballet

A double bill: new commission by the fashionable Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo and Kenneth MacMillan's 1965 masterpiece, Song of the Earth. Edinburgh Playhouse, 26-28 Aug, eif.co.uk

2. Dance Marathon

If you have the stamina, become part of bluemouth inc's four-hour show based on the gruelling dance competitions of 1930s America. Traverse @ Lyceum Rehearsal Room, Grindlay Street, 3-14 Aug (not 4, 8, 11), edfringe.com

3. The Wheel

A wedding turns violent in Zinnie Harris's new play which asks if anyone can travel unscarred through conflict-torn realms. Traverse Theatre, in rep 6-28 August, edfringe.com

4. Thirsty

The Fringe First-winning troupe The Paper Birds fuse physical theatre and verbatim confessions into a study of British boozing. Pleasance Courtyard, 3-28 August, edfringe.com

5. The Simple Things in Life

Site-specific mini-shows devised by Barnaby Stone, David Harradine of Fevered Sleep, Lewis Gibson of Uninvited Guests and more. Sheds at the Royal Botanic Gardens 19-27 August, edfringe.com

Classical and Opera

1. Richard Neville-Towle

Handel and Bach hit the Fringe as Neville-Towle conducts Ludus Baroque in Look Down, Harmonious Saint, Ode to St Cecilia's Day and Concerto Grosso Opus 6, No 7, (10 Aug), and the B Minor Mass (11 Aug). Canongate Kirk, Royal Mile, edfringe.com

2. BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Ilan Volkov conducts the BBCSSO in Jonathan Harvey's Body Mandala, Speakings and... towards a Pure Land with a dash of electronica. Usher Hall, 13 Aug, eif.co.uk

3. Semiramide

Vlaamse Opera brings Nigel Lowery's production of Rossini's Babylonian melodrama to the International Festival. Festival Theatre, 25 and 27 Aug, eif.co.uk

4. Greek

Music Theatre Wales revives Mark-Antony Turnage's 1988 operatic adaptation of Stephen Berkoff's play. Traverse Theatre, 1-2 Sept, traverse.co.uk

5. Die Frau ohne Schatten

Sensory overload from the Arabian Nights in Jonathan Kent's Mariinsky Opera production of Strauss's epic. Festival Theatre 1-3 Sept, eif.co.uk


1. Sarah Millican: Thoroughly Modern Millican

A shrewd blend of domesticity and dirtiness. Assembly Hall, 12-28 Aug, edfringe.com

2. Tim Key: Masterslut

The former Edinburgh Comedy Award winner returns with surreal poetry and experimental film. Pleasance Dome, 3-29 Aug (not 15), as above

3. Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen

Goggle-eyed Kristen Schaal and comedy partner Kurt Braunohler return to the Fringe with a version of their cult New York variety show. Assembly, George Square,12-27 Aug, as above

4. An Evening with David Sedaris

The celebrated US literary humorist will be reading excerpts from his mordantly witty oeuvre of essays and fables. Venue 150 @ EICC, 16-20 Aug, as above

5. The Boy with Tape on His Face

Silence is gleeful in the case of this New Zealand mime artist, whose vaudevillian visual lunacy made him one of last year's festival hits. Pleasance Courtyard, Beyond, 15-28 Aug, as above

Visual arts

1. Ingrid Calame

American artist, who creates abstract paintings and drawing based on marks, stains and cracks found in urban spaces. Fruitmarket Gallery, 4 Aug to 9 Oct, edinburghartfestival.com

2. Robert Rauschenberg: Botanical Vaudeville

Exploration of his use of surfaces such as metal and glass in the 1980s and 1990s. Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, to 2 Oct, as above

3. Martin Creed: Work No1059

Creed has coated 104 steps, from the Scotsman Hotel on North Bridge to Waverley Station, each with a different colour marble. The Scotsman Steps, Market Street, as above

4. Anton Henning

The German artist has transformed the gallery walls into a backdrop for works which play with the concept of good and bad taste. Talbot Rice Gallery, 5 Aug to 22 Oct, as above

5. Elizabeth Blackadder

Much-loved Scottish Dame gets a retrospective on home soil in honour of her 80th birthday. Scottish National Gallery, to 2 Jan 2012, as above

Pop and rock

1. Guillemots

This one-off date from Fyfe Dangerfield's crew is sure to be one of the highlights of The Edge Festival, Liquid Room, 7 Aug, theedgefestival.com

2. Shonen Knife

The legendary Japanese all-female punk-pop trio play such bubblegum thrash classics. Sneaky Pete's, 15 Aug, as above

3. Luke Haines

The auteur turned author is joined by writer Andrew Mueller and Cathal Coughlan (Microdisney/Fatima Mansons) to investigate questions of British culture in song form, Cabaret Voltaire, 22-23 Aug

4. Warraint

Emily Kokal's well-connected Los Angeles indie girl group noir do their haunting, Cure-meets-The-Mamas-&-The-Papas thing, Queen's Hall, 23 Aug, as above

5. James Blake

North London singer-songwriter shows why songs such as "Limit to Your Love" have earned him a Mercury nomination. Liquid Room, 30 Aug, as above


1. Tobias Wolff

American writer discusses his life and work. Main Theatre, 14 Aug, edbookfest.co.uk

2. Jennifer Egan & Karen Russell

Catch two youngish Americas on the up. Corner Theatre, 15 Aug, as above

3. Stella Rimington

Get an insight into the secrets of former MI5 director general-turned-thriller writer – and this year's Booker Prize chair. Main Theatre, 19 Aug, as above

4. Alan Hollinghurst

Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child is an early Booker favourite – join the British author in conversation. Main Theatre, 20 Aug, as above

5. Don Paterson

Offers a smart, irreverent guide to Shakespeare's sonnets. Studio theatre, 23 Aug, as above

Restaurants and cafes

1. Ondine

Produce with fins is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. 2 George IV Bridge, ondinerestaurant.co.uk

2. Chop Chop

A family-run restaurant with excellent Chinese dishes at a fair price. 248 Morrison Street, chop-chop.co.uk

3. Porto & Fi

A sleek café with clean lines, modern design and an air of efficiency. 9 North Bank Street, portofi.com

4. Urban Angel

You may need to queue for Gilly Macpherson's pancakes at Urban Angel. 121 Hanover Street, urban-angel.co.uk

5. Valvona & Crolla

V&C is a bit of an Edinburgh institution, providing fine Italian food and wine in two city centre sites. VinCaffé, 11 Multrees Walk; "Caffé Bar", 19 Elm Row, valvonacrolla.co.uk

Bars and pubs

1. Bramble

Underground Bramble is small but with a big personality. Try the lavender martini. 16A Queen Street, bramblebar.co.uk

2. Ghillie Dhu

Once a church, now a place of worship for music lovers. Food is served but most come to dance. 2 Rutland Place, ghillie-dhu.co.uk

3. The Holyrood

This locals' pub will provide a partial respite from the festival throng, plus good food and beers from Scottish microbreweries. 9a Holyrood Road, fullerthomson.com

4. The Royal Oak

The Royal Oak is a cosy venue with a similarly packed calendar of live, acoustic gigs. 1 Infirmary Street, royal-oak.folk.com

5. Kay's Bar

Deep in the New Town, Kay's Bar dispenses single malts, local beer, haggis and a very local vibe in velour-rich room. 39 Jamaica Street, kaysbar.co.uk

The Edinburgh Fringe, runs from this Friday to 29 August, edfringe.com; The Edinburgh International Festival is from 12 Aug to 4 Sept, eif.co.uk; The Edinburgh International Book Festival is 13-29 Aug, edbookfest.co.uk

Compiled by: Anna Picard, Kate Bassett, Simon Price, Clifford Bishop, Hugh Montgomery, Holly Williams, Gavin Higgins, Robin Barton