Summer is festival time in Edinburgh, with thousands of visitors descending on the Scottish capital to see some of the best new talents in the arts and entertainment world.
From grandiose theatres to tiny, dark pub back rooms hewn from volcanic rock in the medieval Old Town around the Royal Mile, every nook and cranny becomes a stage.
Visit the top half of the Royal Mile, which links Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, and you will find it full of performers showing off and advertising shows they hope will make their careers.
And what of the shows themselves? Well, they could be almost anything, with genres spanning comedy, theatre, dance and cabaret.
There is no one single Edinburgh Festival; instead there are 12 festivals spread throughout the year, with a flurry of activity in July and August. Details of them all can be found at http://www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk
The largest and loudest is the Fringe (www.edfringe.com), in August. International talent rub shoulders with plucky newcomers hoping to make their name with a decent run.
The Fringe is based around a hub in George Square, which features seven theatres as well as bars and stalls serving street food. Many other venues can be found on the other side of the city close to the Royal Mile.
If you want to see big name stars, plan and buy tickets in advance, because they often go like hot cakes. Towards the end of August, many of the biggest names are either likely to be sold out or will have already finished their run.
But a lot of the smaller shows are cheaper – or even free – and tickets are easier to come by, giving you the potential opportunity to brag about seeing so-and-so before they were famous, in rehab, or appearing on I’m A Celebrity…
Be warned though, if you are bringing children, some of the shows feature adult content – including nudity and swearing – so it is worth doing some investigation beforehand.
A lot of the shows are quite short, meaning you can nip into plenty of pubs for a pint or a wee dram.
And it’s not just the punters who often stagger from one show to the next – many of the performers spend a month or more in Edinburgh seemingly surviving on a diet of whisky and haggis!
Of course, you can also have an amazing time without alcohol.
August sees the International Book Festival (www.edbookfest.co.uk) take place amongst the neo-classical magnificence of the Georgian New Town, with talks and signings by big-name authors.
Its purpose-built park setting gives the place an almost college campus atmosphere, and it’s a great place to while away an afternoon away from the hubbub of the city.
There is also the Edinburgh Art Festival (www.edinburghartfestival.com), held at venues across the city, with sculptures and other specially-commissioned works displayed on streets and in parks across the city between July 31 and August 31.