Visiting the 2021 Edinburgh Festival? Here are some must-see shows

Colourful balloons in the sky

August is upon us, and that means festival season is underway in Edinburgh! It’s an exciting occasion for art and culture lovers everywhere, especially since last year’s programme took a forced hiatus due to the pandemic.

With several festivals running till the end of August, there’s still time to book tickets if you’re visiting the city. From inspiring visual works at the Art Festival to spectacular music, comedy, theatre and dance performances at the Edinburgh Fringe – there’s much to see and do. Here’s our roundup of the shows not to be missed.

1. Josie Long

Winner of the Best Newcomer award (Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards) at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2006, comedian Josie Long returns for a ‘work in progress’ show to try out some new material that promises to be silly and experimental. Josie is known for writing and performing standup about politics, social justice and matters close to her heart.

When and where: 8.30pm, 23-29 August, Monkey Barrel, Edinburgh Fringe.

2. Sunshine on Leith

A moving and uplifting musical, Sunshine on Leith features Davy and Ally’s story as they attempt to find normality after returning from Afghanistan. The show, by Captivate Theatre, features several songs by the Proclaimers and is performed in an open-air venue with views of Edinburgh Castle.

When and where: 6.30pm, 11-29 August, MultiStory, Edinburgh Fringe.

3. Archie Brennan: Tapestry Goes Pop!

Tapestry Goes Pop! features the work of the late Archie Brennan, a Scottish-born weaver and pop artist, who practised his art for some 60 years. This exhibition showcases more than 80 tapestries, including some of his most famous projects, such as a pixelated image of Muhammad Ali. For a glimpse into Archie’s life and the possibilities of modern tapestry, this exhibition is well worth adding to your schedule.

When and where: now until 30 August, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh Art Festival.

4. Kazuo Ishiguro: On Being Human

Billed as one of the world’s greatest living authors, Kazuo Ishiguro won the 1989 Booker Prize for his most celebrated works, The Remains of the Day (later adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson). More recently, he was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature. This event is a live discussion where Kazuo shares his ideas with author and critic Erica Wagner, complete with Q&A. You can attend in person or online.

When and where: 7pm, 29 August, The New York Times Square Theatre, Edinburgh International Book Festival.

5. Medicine

Medicine is a profoundly moving, surreal and funny new play from esteemed playwright Enda Walsh, about a patient in a psychiatric hospital (played by Domnhall Gleeson). Medicine examines institutional abuse and false therapy. It’s already received some fantastic reviews.

When and where: every day except Mondays until 29 August, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh International Festival.

6. The Sorries

If you love the uplifting, joyful sounds of Scottish folk music, you’ll enjoy The Sorries, who are back performing at Edinburgh after a sell-out run in 2019. It promises to be a lively show with plenty of banter from musical duo Douglas Kay and Martin Philip, who formed the band after being inspired by The Corries, a Scottish folk group from the 60s.

When and where: 12-15, 18-22, 25-29 August, Pleasance at EICC – Lomond Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe.

7. Pig

Released in the United States in July this year, Pig will be premiering in Edinburgh as part of the International Film Festival. Nicolas Cage plays the lead role of Rob, a truffle hunter and chef whose beloved foraging pig gets kidnapped. He returns to his previous life in Portland to track her down. It’s a deeply emotional film that’s already getting some brilliant reviews, particularly about Nicolas Cage’s performance.

When and where: 7pm, 18 August, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh International Film Festival.

8. Is This A Dagger?

Is This a Dagger? is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth by professional storyteller Andy Cannon. A family-friendly performance, Andy conveys the essence of this epic play in a one-hour, one-person session that appeals to audiences young and old.

When and where: 1pm, on selected days until 29 August, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Fringe.

9. Bromance

Prepare to be mesmerised and astonished by the Barely Methodical Troupe, an experimental acrobatic circus company with their show Bromance. A jaw-dropping fusion of hand-to-hand, Cyr wheel, break dancing, parkour and contemporary dance, Bromance explores camaraderie and affection.

When and where: 3pm, running until 29 August, Assembly George Square Gardens, Edinburgh Fringe.

10. Sweet F.A.

From This is My Story Productions, Sweet F.A. is a play about the popularity of women’s football back in 1916, before it was banned by the F.A. in 1921. A cast of nine Scottish performers brings this true and important story to life with music and song.

When and where: 3pm and 7.30pm, various dates, running up to 30 August, Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh Fringe.


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