around town

Festival summer returns


The Edinburgh Festival Fringe returns this summer from the 2-26 August, and it promises to be bigger and better than ever before. More than 24,100 performers will descend on the city for 2,871 shows across 273 venues - no other arts festival compares in size and scope.

Venue 150 @ EICC is at the centre of the action with a jam-packed schedule of 170 performances by 14 different acts. Household names Jason Manford, Ed Byrne, David Sedaris and Daniel Sloss will be entertaining audiences with their comedy shows. This year also sees the return of the Booking Dance Festival Showcase - exhilarating performances of contemporary dance by companies from the USA.

If theatre is more your cup of tea, there is plenty to choose from at Venue 150: Kabul delves into the lives of four characters affected by the Afghan war, Leonce and Lena tells the love story of a prince and princess and The Weaver combines puppetry, video and dance in an extraordinary tale inspired by myths.

The Festival Fringe is not the only festival running in August. For book worms, the Edinburgh International Book Festival returns to Charlotte Square from the 10-26 August. The festival welcomes more than 800 of the best writers from across the globe for readings, debates and discussions on some of the world-s most pressing issues. With storytelling, workshops and book signings, a children's programme also runs alongside the main programme.

The Edinburgh International Festival also takes place from 9 August - 1 September with a spectacular mix of opera, dance, music and theatre. Highlights include a celebration of Samuel Beckett's work on stage and screen and the European premier of The Tragedy of Coriolanus by the Beijing People's Art Theatre.

To find out more information on performances at Venue 150 @ EICC, visit the website here.

Edinburgh is in high demand as a conference destination


Edinburgh's status as a world-leading conference destination has been strengthened by figures recently revealed by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Edinburgh has been ranked 33rd in its world league, ahead of other international cities including Shanghai, Geneva and Toronto.

The annual report, which analyses meeting trends across six continents and in more than 90 countries, saw London come in sixth - the only other UK city to win a spot in the top 50.

2012 was a very successful year for Edinburgh: the city hosted 67 internationally classified events recognised by ICCA criteria and conferences worth more than £84.4 million have been won for the city in the twelve months since April last year.

Sue Stuart, Operations Director of Marketing Edinburgh, said: "This is great news for the city of Edinburgh and testament to the hard work of everyone involved. The increase in our ranking demonstrates the importance of business tourism, not only in economic terms, but also its value in promoting the city world-wide as a top international conference destination."

Councillor Frank Ross, Economy Committee Convener, City of Edinburgh Council, added: "This is further evidence that Edinburgh is continuing to punch above its weight internationally as a major conference destination. Facilities in the city are world class, particularly with the recent expansion and upgrade to the EICC. Connectivity continues to improve with the upgrades to both Waverley and Haymarket rail hubs and the increased number of direct flights to Edinburgh. It also underlines the work done by the Capital Coalition to ensure that business tourism is given due prominence and the city is promoted to the wider world."

Virgin Trains expands its services for the 2014 Commonwealth Games

In anticipation of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Virgin Trains has announced a huge expansion of its services to Edinburgh's neighbouring city, Glasgow. An additional 3,300 seats per day will be available on journeys between Scotland and Birmingham as of December this year. The demand for seats on the west coast mainline has surged by 144% in the past five years. Virgin Media will also be sponsoring the Games, which are expected to bring thousands of visitors to Scotland next summer.

Virgin trains

Leith's @ the EICC supports Scottish bees and beekeepers


Leith's @ the EICC has recently adopted a beehive at the Heather Hills Farm in Perthshire in an effort to support Scottish bees and beekeepers. The work of bees is essential in pollinating plants to produce high yields of seeds, but they are in decline with many species at risk from extinction. At Heather Hills Farm, the beekeepers manage the bees to encourage good pollination and increase yields. An added bonus is that the EICC will receive about six jars of the Scottish Blossom and Heather Honey a year!

Kyoto and Edinburgh strengthen their ties with a new collaboration

Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) is set to launch an Open Innovation Office in the Nine building at Edinburgh BioQuarter. It is the latest development in the long-standing relationship between Edinburgh and Kyoto, which stretches back to 1997 when the two cities signed a friendship agreement. The recently opened Nine is a unique facility that combines academic research and commercial lab space for large-scale life science and biotech collaborations. For more on Edinburgh's expertise in life sciences, read our article in the Summer 2012 issue of Conference Call here.

Edinburgh Bioquarter

A name is chosen for the Firth of Forth bridge

First Minister Alex Salmond recently announced that the new bridge over the Firth of Forth is to be named the Queensferry Crossing. More than 35,000 votes were cast by the public to choose the winning name from a shortlist of five, which had been whittled down from 7,000 suggestions. Caledonia Bridge, St Margaret's Crossing, the Firth of Forth Crossing and Saltire Crossing had also been in the running. The First Minister said: "The public's choice of Queensferry Crossing reflects the area's rich history and the continuing link between the two communities on the estuary's north and south banks." The project is due to be completed in 2016 and will extend transport links to and from Edinburgh.