Edinburgh festivals fall victim to COVID-19

AFP
Edinburgh's international festivals were cancelled for the first time in 70 years due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said yesterday.
AFP

Edinburgh’s international festivals were cancelled for the first time in 70 years due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said yesterday.

Fringe Society Chief Executive Shona McCarthy said the decision to cancel The Fringe, International Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival, Book Festival and Military Tattoo was “heartbreaking.”

“However, having taken advice and considered all the options, we collectively believe this is the only appropriate response,” she added.

The festivals, a platform for both professional and amateur performers, are estimated to be worth around 300 million pounds (US$371 million) to the local economy.

They comprise more than 5,000 events in Scotland’s capital every August, featuring some 25,000 artists, writers and performers from 70 countries, and audiences of 4.4 million.

The International Festival, which sees musicians, actors and dancers perform at city venues, began in 1947 as a way to reconcile people and nations through art after World War II.

The Tattoo, which started in 1950, brings together military performers in a concert outside Edinburgh Castle.

Fergus Linehan, director of Edinburgh International Festival, said the coronavirus crisis made next year’s events even more important. “We recognize that Edinburgh’s festivals play a very important role in the cultural, social and economic lives of our city and country, and this decision has not been taken lightly,” he added.

“Our thoughts are with all the country’s key workers and we hope that we can celebrate your heroic efforts when this awful pandemic has passed.”

Organizers will refund all participant registration fees and tickets for the events.

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