ExCeL London - 30 Sep - 01 Oct 2021
18 October 2021 - Virtual
28 October - London, UK
ON TOUR: Edinburgh
Thinking of going to the Edinburgh Tattoo this year? It continues on until Saturday 27 August and sad to say it is completely sold out. And it is every year. If you are planning to go in 2006 start thinking it out now. Tickets for this year went on sale 1st December 2004 and it is just as likely that the same date (but a year later) will be chosen for what will be the 57 show next year, 4 - 26 August. Get your booking in as quickly as possible. By February of 2005 virtually nothing was left. Ticket prices for the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar Tattoo ranged from £10 to £35 (£2.50 extra for the Saturday evening performance) with good views from virtually everywhere.
Let us take a look at the Tattoo. It is performed in a temporary auditorium seating 8,500 in what is effectively the parade ground of the castle. An awesome colourful pageant dominated of course by the bagpipes, but always with performers from all over the world. This year the showstoppers were the child motorcycle riders from London”s docklands, the Imps, but equally impressive was the Russian Cossack State Song & Dance Ensemble and a precision drill by the Guard of His Majesty the King of Norway. Nelson and Trafalgar were naturally commemorated and magnificent was the 200-strong massed band of pipes and drums from four Scottish regiments. However if you are visiting Edinburgh in any month other than August you can take in the spirit of the Tattoo in a new visitor attraction whose aim is to expand on the story of the event (see photo below). A 150-year-old Victorian reservoir at the top of the Royal Mile just in front of the castle is the venue for the exhibition. It”s free too.
Edinburgh is one of the world”s great tourist cities. Last year it was voted Favourite UK city by readers of both Conde Nast Traveller magazine and the Guardian and Observer newspapers. It is a World Heritage site. From Hogmanay, New Year”s Eve, right through to the festival, and beyond, it a vibrant city. Edinburgh is a walking town, but you do have to be fit. Just like Rome it is built on seven hills and is dominated by the castle. If your visit is limited to just a few days you can base yourself in one area and come back another time and stay elsewhere. You will still be in Edinburgh but the panorama will be completely different. Princess Street (left), the main thoroughfare, is one of the world”s great boulevards with all manner of shops on one side and very pretty gardens on the other (where there is a bandstand/open air theatre). But both extremities of the street are entirely different in their offerings. The main railway centre and bus station are right in the centre of the city and if you are planning to fly to Edinburgh it has excellent links including all the London airports (Continental now flies from New York, EDI”s first Transatlantic offering) and the Express bus is but ”5 return. Terrific value. In fact you will need every penny paid as eating out is not cheap and whilst the food is fine clearly the combination of capital city and major tourist attraction means on the whole premium prices.
As a major international city Edinburgh is well off for hotels in all price ranges. Clearly it is best to stay in the centre but if for economic reasons one chooses to base oneself outside the core area the city has a very good and cheap bus system and it is well worthwhile buying a multi - sector pass. At the top of the range the Radisson SAS has a superb position on the Royal Mile, is fully air-conditioned and is just completing a major refurbishment. It also has an indoor swimming pool. Also a ”must” mention are two fine old prestige railway hotels, the Balmoral, at one end of Princess Street (left) and returned to its former glory within the expanding Rocco Forte empire; and the Caledonian, now part of the Hilton Group, and itself in the final stages of a major and expensive revamp, and a classic property. At the economy level the Edinburgh Ibis is bright, clean and right in the centre of things at the junction of North Bridge and High Street. Winter rates start at ”50 per room per night but can double for the major events. As with all Edinburgh hotels, haggle (or visit http://www.OctopusTravel.com).
Edinburgh may not have invented the idea of the commercial so - called ”festival” but over the last 50 years it has certainly promoted the concept and now has events throughout the year with the Edinburgh Festival itself, and its ”fringe” activities taking up virtually the whole of August. In July the Jazz and Blues gathering is just as popular with the aficionados, Jules Holland and Kenny Ball topping the bill this year whilst in June, Ingliston, just by the airport, is the venue for the Royal Highland Show.
Where to go and what to do? Edinburgh is a feast. Theatre - wise the major houses play host to a whole variety of productions spread out throughout the year. Visit the websites to find out what is on when you are in town. Notable attractions include the old port town of Leith where you can often gain a view of cruise ships in dock, plus visiting the former Royal Yacht Britannia. There is the superb Museum of Scotland near the university, The Palace of Holyrood House, the new Scottish Parliament (if you are British see where your money was spent), The National Gallery of Scotland, the Museum of Flight and Concorde, and of course The Castle. There are literally dozens of places of interest to visit and one should include the Camera Obscura at the top of the Royal Mile just before the Castle and at least one alcoholic drink production unit, either beer and better still in Scotland, malt whisky.
You can eat Scottish, French, Italian, Indian, Chinese and even Mongolian. The fare is good if not the cheapest. Try and miss out on the tourist traps. If the weather is poor the St James Centre is a massive shopping mall opposite Waverley station. Just launched is the Edinburgh pass which gives free access to over 25 attractions, bus transport including a return to the airport and many exclusive offers. A one-day pass costs ”26 and a three-day offering £40.