Last weekend the Edinburgh Festival Fringe started, but we were in Ayr for a wedding. So although we went to the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival a couple of weeks ago, today was our first taste of this year’s Fringe.
First up today was the UK’s first Ginger Pride march, organised by the ginger Canadian comedian Shawn Hitchins to promote his Free Fringe show Ginger Nation. Over a hundred people of a ginger persuasion gathered next to the Duke of Wellington statue in front of Register House on Princes Street.
Even the BBC got into the spirit of the occasion, sending ginger-bearded journalist Cameron Buttle to cover the event.
Hitchins led the assembled redheads on a march up the North Bridge carrying placards bearing slogans such as “Ginger and proud”, “For the love of ginger”, “It gets redder” and “All hail! The red, orange and pale”.
A Royal ginger was even spotted amongst the throngs.
Upon reaching the Royal Mile Hitchins held aloft a packet of Ginger Nuts in celebration of gingers everywhere.
The Royal Mile was packed with festival goers and performers, and the obligatory flyer distributors, some attaching their flyers to wherever there was space.
The street was a cacophony of noise, making it difficult for individual musicians to be heard, but that didn’t stop them trying.
On one side of the street the Hurly Burly theatre company from Somerset were warming up ahead of promoting their show “Death by Shakespeare”.
On the other was a giant kilted bear. Of course.
Further along the High Street were a pair from the cast of “The Boy Who Lost Christmas”.
While lurking around the corner in Victoria Street was a giant fried egg, also known as Paul Jones, one half of the stand-up duo Dahle & Jones.
After a break for lunch we headed to St Andrew’s Square which had been taken over by East Lothian and a selection of businesses from that county. In one corner there was a demonstration of wood carving and furniture making by Dave Crosbie from Tree-ditions Woodland Crafts School in Dunbar.
In the centre of the square Golf East Lothian had set up mini golf.
I was more interested in the wares of the Knops Beer Company however, and we had a taste of their delicious California Common and Black Cork beers.
East Links Family Park had built a miniature version of their park, complete with ducks, horses, goats and go karts.
We made our way from St Andrews Square along George Street and past the Famous Spiegeltent, which was attracting both crowds and camera crews.
From George Street we headed down to Princes Street, passing the National Galleries of Scotland whose columns were wrapped in bright colours for a Peter Doig exhibition.
Along with the Royal Mile the Mound is one of the main focal points for street performers, and crowds of hundreds had gathered to watch the performers.
It wouldn’t be the Festival without a unicycle, and both the acts we saw here featured one. The Jerome Street Show features Robbie “Jerome” Cockburn balancing on a two and a half metre tall unicycle while juggling flaming batons.
Opposite him was another juggler, albeit with no fire and a shorter unicycle, but still impressive nonetheless.
Next we made our way down to The Jam House on Queen Street, intending to see Phill Jupitus performing some of his poetry mixed with some stand-up. Unfortunately yours truly had mixed up the timings, so although we thought we were arriving early, we actually only saw the last 15 minutes of his show. But that was enough to make us vow to come back later to see the rest of the show, and meeting him afterwards only made us more sure of that – what a nice man!
Instead of a full set from Mr Jupitus we settled for “Magic, Illusion & A Hate For Each Other” by Young & Strange, a rather chaotic magic show which belies their skills.
One trick involved Richard Young seemingly putting his arm through an industrial fan without injury.
Another saw a glamorous assistant confined to a box which was split in two then pierced with spikes.
The grand finale saw them make a small doily, blowing the cuttings into the air in a seemingly endless stream of tiny pieces of paper.
That seemed as good a time as any to head for home, and to begin thinking about what we want to see tomorrow.