Festival frenzy as Edinburgh gears up for August

This article is from 2008

Mela expands as Connery gets touted in August

With just three weeks until Edinburgh officially takes its place in the spotlight as one of the world's greatest cultural playgrounds, festival news and views have been coming in thick and fast. Perhaps most contentious is the news that after capturing the crown as the fastest selling event in Edinburgh International Book Festival history, tickets to see Sir Sean Connery are being sold on eBay for £100, more than 10 times their original price. The furore follows news that Book Festival sales for the opening weekend are up 24% on last year. Other events to sell out on the first day include Tony Benn, Alan Johnston, Alex Salmond, Jonathan Dimbleby, Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Margaret Atwood.

Across at the Edinburgh International Festival, Scottish star of stage, film and television, actress Hannah Gordon, has been added to the cast of Festival 2008's opening concert. Gordon will be narrator in the concert performance of Brecht and Weill's Rise and Fall of The City of Mahagonny at the Usher Hall on Fri 8 Aug. Elsewhere at the EIF, James Naughtie, journalist, political commentator and presenter of BBC Radio 4's Today is a welcome addition to a discussion on the future of religion in Europe. Naughtie will act as moderator in the discussion between scientist Dr John Lennox and cultural commentator Christopher Hitchens.

In Leith, the Edinburgh Mela launched their programme promising a show bigger and better than ever before. The multi-cultural jamboree will move from its previous home of Pilrig Park and set its stall both inside and outside Ocean Terminal, extending its run from a weekend to a full week. The new outdoor venue will include a big top, and promises to host a range of activities, while the shopping complex itself will accommodate significant events including film screenings, performances, concerts and exhibitions with acts from India, Pakistan, Japan and Africa.