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Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is located attractively amongst volcanic hills. It has two main sections for tourists - the old medieval town with Edinburgh Castle and The Royal Mile, and the 18th century New Town which has the National Gallery of Scotland and the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens. Another popular thing to do is to take a hike up the 823 foot high Arthur's Seat, which gives great views over Edinburgh after a relatively short hike. August is a bustling time for Edinburgh with its festivals and the military tattoo. There are events happening all over the city and any accessible space is turned into a venue. There are also tons of street performers during this time.
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The Fringe Festival

Even if you’re not into the arts you must experience Festival Time (August) in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Festival is an internationally renown arts festival – but I think that the Fringe Festival that takes place at the same time is the bigger draw. The Fringe Festival takes over the entire city. Every off beat theatre, coffeehouse, vacant building and even school is transformed into a performance space for the duration of the Fringe Festival. While the famous Edinburgh Festival favors more traditional spaces (reflected in the ticket prices… ouch!) the Fringe Festival is all about renegade artists from all over the world descending on the city to share their art with the world. The Fringe Festival has it’s own ticket center and the rather thick programs are available all over the city. Prices for shows and performers playing the Fringe Festival are considerably cheaper than those playing the “real festival”. And Fringe performances happen everywhere and anytime day and night. It’s a thrilling display of artistic ingenuity. Since most of the Fringe performers share space with others the sets are relatively non-existent, and there are a lot of bad shows out there. But there are also some great gems to be discovered. The best way to find the popular and great shows in the festival are by talking to people – that’s how we found a lot of the great things we saw while we were visiting. And just try a show out – you never know. At all hours of the day you’ll meet performers flocking the streets promoting their shows and offering discounts. The city is never more alive than during Festival time. There’s an amazing energy in the city. Even if you never see one show, you must visit Edinburgh at Festival time. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Website: http://www.edfringe.com/
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BURN'S NIGHT

Each year on January 25, the great man's presumed birthday, Scots everywhere take time out to honour a national icon. Whether it's a full-blown Burns Supper or a quiet night of reading poetry, Burns Night is a night for all Scots.

Burns Night Supper
The Burns Supper is an institution of Scottish life, a night to celebrate the life and genius of the national Bard. Suppers can be everything from an informal gathering of friends to a huge, formal dinner full of pomp and circumstance. This running order covers all the key elements you need to plan and structure a Burns Supper that suits your intentions. For more info:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/hi
story/burnsnight/suppers/index.shtml

Who was Robert Burns then?
Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759 in the village of Alloway near Ayr. He came from a relatively poor, tenant-farmer background, although he received a good education and read avidly as a youngster. It is during his years as a teenager and young man working on farms that he developed some of the passions that would colour the rest of his life - poetry, nature, women and drink.
Fame, but not necessarily fortune, followed in the wake of Burns’s first publication: "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" (Kilmarnock Edition). The collection contains many of his best loved poems, including "The Cotter’s Saturday Night", "To a Mouse" and "To a Louse".

Burns’s poetry at this time chopped and changed between English and Scots and this perhaps reflected his own ambivalent feelings towards the Edinburgh bourgeoisie. It was on his return to farming near Dumfries in 1788 that he penned his masterpiece in the Scots vernacular, "Tam O’Shanter" (1790).

In 1795 he sent his publisher "For a’ that and a’ that", a song which vocalised his support for the political radicalism which was beginning to infiltrate British society, especially through Thomas Paine’s controversial work, "The Rights of Man".
The Bard should always be seen in his national context: as the champion of the underdog in an underdog country.

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EDINBURGH CASTLE

Castle Rock is where Edinburgh began. Much damaged and often changing hands in the long and punishing wars of independence against England, Edinburgh Castle began to assume its present appearance in 1356.

In the fifteenth century King James III began using the Castle as an ordnance factory - which must have dramatically reduced its desirability as a residence! It was sacked for the last time in 1573, falling to the English after Mary Queen of Scots was brought down. (Her son, King James IV, was born in Edinburgh Castle. He later reunited the crowns of Scotland and England as James VI of Scotland and I of England.
Repaired and strengthened, the Castle became an even more formidable fortress, resisting all major assaults until 1745.

In 1753 began the construction of the esplanade, the ceremonial parade ground in front of the Castle where the Tattoo now takes place. Sixty years later the esplanade was broadened and prettified with walls and railings, the Castle's function as a fortress had ended.

The Castle remains the headquarters of the 52nd Infantry Brigade and houses several regimental headquarters. It is home to a number of military museums and contains the Scottish National War Memorial.
Members of the Royal Artillery fire the famous one O'Clock gun at Edinburgh Castle. It is Britain's second most popular tourist attraction and rises magnificently each year to the occasion of the Tattoo. All its atmosphere, power and majesty affirm that this was the proudest and mightiest fortress in the land, a residence and stronghold of kings.
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