Every August, thousands of visitors from all over the world descend on the capital city of Scotland to enjoy Edinburgh’s International Festival and the Fringe Festival. All in all, over twenty separate festivals, including such diverse celebrations as The International Film Festival, International Book Festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, keep visitors, residents and workers entertained from June to September each year.
The festivities begin in June with the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Towards the end of July the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival takes the stage. Maggie Bell, The Average White Band, Curtis Stigers and Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra featured among the many acts that graced the Scottish capital in 2012.
August brings the Art Festival along with the two main festivals, to the streets of Edinburgh: The International Festival and the Fringe Festival. The Fringe covers a number of genres, including comedy, children’s shows, exhibitions, theatre and spoken word.
The main event, the International Festival, features the very best in international music, opera, dance and theatre. Also in August, the Edinburgh Military tattoo, with the formidable castle as the backdrop, brings together the creative talents from four continents. The line up features hundreds of musicians, pipers, singers and dancers. Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee provides the main focus of the 2012 tattoo.
August is a busy month in Edinburgh; the International Book Festival and the International Television Festival take up the latter two weeks in the month. The first weekend in September hosts the Edinburgh Mela, a festival with a South Asian flavour that encapsulates Scottish and international performances to make a multicultural melting pot.
The Scottish International Storytelling Festival, held in October, celebrates the art of spinning yarns and is based in the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the Royal Mile.
Collectively, the festivals attract audiences of four million, contributing £260 million to the Scottish economy every year. In addition, the city welcomes over 25,000 artists and 2,000 media representatives. The festivals generate over 5,000 full time jobs in Edinburgh, in addition to temporary employment and voluntary opportunities during the summer months.
Working at the festivals has a number of perks which compensate for the minimum wage rates offered to temporary staff. Jobs generally involve stewarding, setting up or closing down venues during the various events. Catering roles are also available through a number of agencies.
For instance, stewards serving at the International Book Festival may have the opportunity to attend some of the world’s greatest authors’ events as well as enjoying discounts on purchasing books.
Staff employed at the many venues for the Fringe Festival also have the opportunity to see at first hand the many acts who visit each year. Needless to say, Festival jobs in Edinburgh are highly sought after in the summer months.
So where do all these people sleep? Hotels and guest houses are fully occupied throughout the festival season. Flats in Edinburgh are very much in-demand at these peak times. Some householders take advantage of the property demand by letting out rooms during the festival; other residents choose to rent their complete houses for the festivals while they holiday elsewhere.
Student accommodation is made available for festival visitors throughout August for the International Festival. This can be a less expensive alternative to staying in a hotel. Anyone planning to stay for at least a month, however, would be better off taking advantage of the properties, including flats, in Edinburgh being vacated and let out for the period of the festival.
The student rooms are let out from around £35 a night, which compares favourably with hotels and guest houses. However, a one bedroom flat could cost as little as £600 per month. The larger the property; and the nearer to the city centre; the higher the rent, as a rule.