Edinburgh is not only the political capital of Scotland; it is also the cultural capital. The city is home to the National Museum of Scotland and the Royal Museum of Scotland. Edinburgh Castle is not just a standing monument to the rich and active history of the city; it is also home to the National War Museum.
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Britain has a diverse programme of annual cultural events and, particularly during the summer, there are lots of arts festivals. Here is a selection of some of the biggest events in terms of scale and reputation.
The Edinburgh Festival
The Edinburgh festival, which started back in 1947, is held every summer in the Scottish capital. This huge cultural jamboree attracts thousands of performers and millions of visitors. The event is actually made up of several different festivals. The official Edinburgh International Festival has a highbrow programme including classical music, drama and opera. It is dwarfed by the Festival Fringe which, taking place around the clock, includes everything from well-known comedy acts to student troops. In addition, there is the Military Tattoo (think pipes and drums) which takes place in the castle and jazz, film and book festivals.
The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts takes place on a dairy farm in Somerset in June (apart from in “fallow” years like 2012) and although best known for music also includes comedy and cabaret.
Although it has grown massively since it began in the 1970s, the festival maintains a hippy ethos particularly with the Green Fields area (where healing and traditional skills are practised) and the donation of profits to charity.
Hay festival takes place each May in the beautiful setting of the Welsh borders. During its 25 year history some of the biggest names in literature, politics and music have taken to the stage. Former US President Bill Clinton labelled it the “Woodstock of the mind.”
The Proms started life back in 1895. This eight week cultural event is based at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Music spills out of this historical venue with Proms in the Park and outreach work. Each season there are around 70 concerts featuring a wide range of performances, from classical to jazz to world music. Many concerts are family friendly and are a great way to introduce children to different types of music. The Last Night of the Proms is a particularly raucous occasion with much sing-a-long action.
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