Edinburgh Festival: top 25 to see 2016

  • The List
  • 22 July 2016

This article is from 2016

Edinburgh Festivals: Top 25 Shows 2016

Michael Morpurgo's King Arthur

The hottest tickets in town – we pick the must-see shows across the festivals

Another year and another Edinburgh Festival with far too much to see and just over a month to catch it all. From sitcom stars to opera icons, and rude Aussies to Arthurian legends, we point you straight in the direction of those unmissable events


I Still Believe in Miracles
Botanics-based gallery celebrates Thirty Years of Inverleith House with work from the likes of William Eggleston, Carl Andre, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Ryman and Richard Wright.
Inverleith House, 23 Jul–23 Oct.

Facing the World
Self-portraiture has come rather a long way since the mid-17th century. In this blockbuster exhibition, Facing the World looks at how artists have viewed themselves from the Dutch masters through to Chinese dissidents via pop art gurus.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 16 Jul–16 Oct.

Surreal Encounters: Collecting the Marvellous
Salvador Dalí and his Mae West sofa lips, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Eileen Agar and Marcel Duchamp are all represented in the Surreal Encounters collection which takes its cue from surrealism pioneer André Breton's line that 'only the marvellous is beautiful'.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, until 11 Sep.


Amy Liptrot
Having survived a hedonistic London, Liptrot headed to her Orkney home for salvation. Amy Liptrot's memoir digs deep into addiction.
Charlotte Square Gardens, 26 Aug.

Jonathan Safran Foer
A heavyweight American author is always an excellent addition to any UK literary festival. Typically, Edinburgh has scooped the modern daddy of them all with Jonathan Safran Foer in town to chat about his first novel in over a decade.
Charlotte Square Gardens, 28 Aug.

MG Leonard
Terrified of insects, Leonard went to extreme lengths to cure herself of this phobia, and proceeded to write a kids book, Beetle Boy.
Charlotte Square Gardens, 20 Aug.


The world of Fringe cabaret is a veritable plethora of diverse joys. From Peter and Bambi Heaven (pictured below) to Lili La Scala, and Betty Grumble to Great White Males, Edinburgh has got them all.
Various venues, 3–29 Aug.

Edinburgh Festivals: Top 25 Shows 2016

Peter and Bambi Heaven
Cal Macaninch
My Eyes Went Dark dragged this acclaimed Scottish actor to a very sombre and painful place in a play based on the true story of a tormented man who lost his wife and children before taking bloody vengeance.
Traverse Theatre, 4–28 Aug.

Colin Hay
He may have claimed to 'come from a land down under', but the Men at Work frontman was actually a boy from Saltcoats. For his Fringe show, Get Rid of the Minstrel, he brings us a hot band and delivers some funny tales about the mad old music industry.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 15–28 Aug.

Don Gnu
Danish dance duo Don Gnu adopt a fresh approach to the issue of masculinity and their show, MIS: All night Long, will have feet tapping and tongues wagging.
Dance Base, 17–28 Aug.

Doug Anthony All Stars Daas
Doug Anthony All Stars were once a big Fringe deal and they're back with a tweaked lineup to relive the magic.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3–14 Aug.

Helen Monks
Fresh from television triumphs in Ben Elton's Upstart Cow and Caitlin Moran's Raised by Wolves, Helen Monks brings us a one-woman show with Dolly Wants to Die and a verbatim drama for Northern Stage in E15. A genuine rising star, yet already a Fringe quasi-veteran.
Underbelly, 4–28 Aug; Summerhall, 6–27 Aug.

I Don't Believe It!
After a lifetime away from the Fringe, Richard Wilson is back to resurrect his most beloved character. You probably wouldn't want to live beside Victor Meldrew but from the safety of Row Y, he'll be an absolute hoot.
Assembly Roxy, 16–28 Aug.

Michael Morpurgo's King Arthur
Camelot. Excalibur. Lady of the Lake. Merlin. Guinevere. The legend of King Arthur has been enjoyed for centuries and Story Pocket Theatre will be giving it their own superb spin.
Gilded Balloon at the Museum, 3–29 Aug.

Simon Munnery
Who's the Dadaist? The brains behind Cluub Zarathustra, the League Against Tedium, Buckethead and Alan Parker: Urban Warrior is that man, of course. Here he celebrates his 30th year of unmitigated Fringe chaos with a brand new Stand show and an evening of special guests in his dishonour.
The Stand, 5–29 Aug; Famous Spiegeltent, 22 Aug.


Alan Cumming
The renaissance man is on EIF singing duty with Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs and pops into the Book Festival to discuss his life in showbiz.
The Hub, 6–27 Aug; Charlotte Square Gardens, 27 Aug.

Cecilia Bartoli
Bellini's Norma gets the superstar treatment with Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli set to deliver an astonishing performance as the Druid high priestess trying to face down the brutal Romans.
Festival Theatre, 5–9 Aug.

Chotto Desh
Akram Khan's company let us in on another unique example of cross-cultural storytelling from their leader as this much-anticipated production for children aged 7+ unleashes an evocative blend of dance, text, visuals and sound.
EICC, 13 & 14 Aug.

Billed as a landmark in contemporary dance, monumental brings together two of Canada's most uncompromising performing arts groups – The Holy Body Tattoo and Godspeed You! Black Emperor – for this inspiring and provocative show.
Edinburgh Playhouse, 8 & 9 Aug.

Edinburgh Festivals: Top 25 Shows 2016

monumental / credit: Yannick Grandmont
Sigur Rós
Those gloomy postrockers have got a bit more cheerful of late with some addictive pop tunes. Time for hopelandic heaven at the International Fest.
Edinburgh Playhouse, 15 & 16 Aug.

National Theatre of Scotland and The TEAM hook up for Anything that Gives Off Light, a piece about an American woman and a Scotsman who shed the layers of national identity to search for a deeper truth.
EICC, 18–26 Aug.


Digital Entertainment Festival
A new player on the Edinburgh Festival circuit takes over the iconic George Street venue.
Assembly Rooms, 4–28 Aug.

Festival of Politics
Another excellently varied FoP programme of events covering topics such as the future of Scottish sport, the refugee crisis, spin doctors, Borgen, the US presidential election and artificial intelligence. Oh, and there's LEGO!
Scottish Parliament, 18–20 Aug.

Fringe by the Sea
In a delightful spot far away from the madding Royal Mile crowd is North Berwick's annual bash, this year featuring the likes of Geno Washington, Pauline McLynn, Alistair McGowan and Capercaillie.
North Berwick, 8–14 Aug.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
This annual explosion of colour, music, marching and dancing doesn't get any less wildly popular. Among those taking part this year are the Royal Jordanian Armed Forces Band and the Imps Motorcycle Display Team.
Edinburgh Castle, 5–27 Aug.