Edinburgh’s 10 Best Events and Festivals this September

Matthew Keyte

September is the month following the huge Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, but there is still a huge amount to see and do in Scotland’s capital. Both the leading galleries as well as smaller, independent exhibition spaces will be presenting the works of leading Scottish artists. There are also some intriguing history and heritage events taking place, readings and discussions, and even an appearance from Renaissance man Stephen Fry.

1. Art | Cadell and Peploe at the Scottish Gallery

Art | Cadell and Peploe at the Scottish Gallery

From 3 September Francis Cadell and Samuel Peploe were part of a group of artists in the early 20th century known as the Scottish Colourists who took inspiration from Continental movements such as the Post-Impressionists and the Fauvists, and were noted for their bold and vibrant use of colour. Both men worked from Edinburgh studios but spent much of their time on the ancient island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. Both Cadell and Peploe made an annual pilgrimage to Iona to paint and draw, attracted by the mystical past of the island, the pagan and early Christian remains and the abbey at which the early kings of Scotland were buried. The light on Iona constantly changed throughout the day as rain and brightness came suddenly off the sea providing an infinite number of challenges to the artists. This exhibition focuses on their works inspired by the Iona landscape. Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 0131 558 1200

2. Arts | Forth Bridges Festival

Market, Bridge, Market

Arts | Forth Bridges Festival

4 – 13 September The Forth Bridges Festival is part of the Scottish Homecoming 2014 and will welcome over 100,000 visitors from Edinburgh, across Scotland, and internationally. The festival takes place over the course of ten days on the banks of the River Forth in the shadow of the famous rail and road bridges. The festival will also be celebrating the fiftieth birthday since the Forth Road Bridge was opened. There will be a huge range of events to choose from, including boat trips along the river, a food and drink market, a flotilla and rowing regatta, street parties, arts and craft and hidden history trails, fireworks nights, and live music, comedy, and spoken word events. Also you can watch out for a biker rally and a display of touring motors and formula one cars of the past in memory the late Scottish driver Jim Clark. Forth Bridges Festival, Ferryburn House, Roseberry Avenue, South Queensferry, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 0131 331 3511

The Forth BridgesThe Forth Bridges | © Gary Denham/Flickr

3. Culture | The Riding of the Marches

Culture | The Riding of the Marches

7 September The Riding of the Marches is run by the Edinburgh March Riding Association and has been going since 2009 – although it recreates an ancient custom. Over 300 riders are led by the Captain, Lass and Officers on horseback around the edges of the city before heading into the centre, in a ritual that recreates the practice of riding around the common land of the city and checking the state of the defences. In Edinburgh this was first carried out in 1579 to commemorate the loss of the battle of Flodden in 1513 when the Captain of the City returned on horseback to report the numbers of the dead. Originally the ritual was carried out on All Hallows Night until 1604, before transferring to Trinity Fair before it was abandoned as a custom in 1718. The Riding was carried out once in 1936 before being revived in 2009. Edinburgh March Riding Association, 11 Forthview Crescent, Wallford, Musselburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland

4. Literature | From Virgil to Tintin at the National Library of Scotland

Bridge, Library

Literature | From Virgil to Tintin at the National Library of Scotland

11 September The Scots language, traditionally known as Lallans, has a long history as a literary language. Used by Robert Burns and often in poems and novels by Robert Louis Stevenson during the 19thcentury, the language was vigorously promoted during the Scottish Renaissance of the 20th century by writers such as Hugh MacDiarmid, William Soutar, and Edwin Muir. The National Library of Scotland will be hosting a panel discussion featuring leading scholars and writers on the challenge of translating literary texts into Scots. Amongst the speakers on show will be the poet and novelist Tom Hubbard, Derrick McClure, the translator of Sorley Maclean and Alice in Wonderland into the Scots tongue, and Susan Rennie, responsible for the Scots version of Tintin and editor of The Dictionary of the Scots Language. National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 0131 623 3700

National Library of ScotlandNational Library of Scotland | © aehdeschaine/Flickr

5. Art | Christine Woodside at the Open Eye Gallery

Art | Christine Woodside at the Open Eye Gallery

From 20 September Christine Woodside was born in 1946 and is one of the finest contemporary Scottish painters. Having trained in Aberdeen, her work has been regularly exhibited in London and Edinburgh. She still lives in rural Fife in Scotland, though draws much of her inspiration from travels abroad to North Africa – she won the Teachers Whisky Travel Scholarship in 1995 that enabled her to explore parts of Italy, Morocco and Tunisia. Her latest exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery is entitled From Muchty to Marrakech and is set to feature new paintings that draw together her key influences – the Scottish landscape around her home and viewed from her studio window, and the more exotic colours and vivid scenes to be found in North Africa. Open Eye Gallery, 34 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK +44 0131 557 1020

Christine WoodsideChristine Woodside, Sight Hounds and Barley | Courtesy Open Eye Gallery

6. Comedy | Stephen Fry Live

Comedy | Stephen Fry Live

September 29 Stephen Fry is the closest thing we have to the Renaissance virtuoso – wit, novelist, actor, TV presenter of comedy and documentaries, famous Tweeter and fan of Norwich City. He will be appearing for one night only in Edinburgh in September to mark the publication of the latest volume of his memoirs. This will be the third volume of memoirs Fry has published, called More Fool Me, and follows The Fry Chronicles, which was published in 2010 and went on to sell over a million copies worldwide. This new volume documents the late eighties and early nineties, when Fry was at the height of his fame and embraced the hedonistic party lifestyle to the full, often with regrettable consequences. Edinburgh Festival Theatre, 13-29 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 0131 529 6000

Stephen FryStephen Fry | © Marco Raaphorst/Flickr

7. Art | John Byrne at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Art | John Byrne at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Ongoing John Byrne is one of Scotland’s most versatile and well-known artists and fiction writers. Having started out as a writer of radio plays and TV scripts, Byrne also began to produce illustrations for story books, record covers, and had a job designing book jackets for Penguin books. At the National Gallery he will be exhibiting a selection of his portraits and self-portraits that display his customary wit and observational skill. The title of the exhibition is Sitting Ducks and features portraits of famous sitters including his friend Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane, and Tilda Swinton, the mother of his two children. Scottish National Gallery, The Mound, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 0131 624 6200

John ByrneJohn Byrne, Tilda Swinton, 2001 | Courtesy National Gallery

8. Art | Counterpoint at Talbot Rice Gallery

Bridge, University

Art | Counterpoint at Talbot Rice Gallery

Ongoing The Talbot Rice Gallery is part of the University of Edinburgh, the great seat of learning that was once graced by the men behind the Scottish Enlightenment such as David Hume and Adam Ferguson. The current exhibition showcases the work of eight young artists whose declared intention is to explore and challenge ideas regarding the place of art in the wider world and its social utility. The installations on show include confetti cannons, street lamps, and bowling alleys and aim to tackle contemporary debates over technology, the Scottish Referendum, and the notion of a political utopia. The artists whose work will be on show include Craig Mulholland, Andrew Miller, Ellie Harrison, Alec Finlay, Ross Birrell and Keith Farquhar. University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 0131 650 2210

CounterpointCounterpoint | Courtesy of Talbot Rice Gallery

9. Art | The Art of Golf at The National Gallery


Art | The Art of Golf at The National Gallery

Ongoing With the Ryder Cup set to be hosted at Gleneagles later this year, the National Gallery are hosting an exhibition on The Art of Golf that brings together memorabilia, aerial photography, paintings and museum pieces to document the history of the national sport. Golf lends itself to art remarkably well – with the dramatic, open landscapes and players swinging in athletic motion. The exhibition features the great painting ‘The Golfers’ of 1847 by Charles Lees, and the works of Sir John Lavery on the golfers at the North Berwick course. There will also be aerial photographs on show detailing the extraordinary artificial landscapes that make up the courses at St Andrews, Gleneagles, and Muirfield, and paintings of the Leith, Musselburgh, and Bruntsfield courses. Scottish National Gallery, The Mound, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 0131 624 6200

The GolfersCharles Lees, The Golfers, 1847 | Courtesy National Gallery

10. History | Common Cause at the National Museum of Scotland


Common Cause
Courtesy of NMS
Ongoing From the late 17th century onwards, Scottish men made up a large proportion of the armed forces of the British Empire. Scottish regiments fought in Canada in the Seven Years’ War, in India against the Maharajas, against Napoleon in Europe. When war was declared in 1914, huge numbers of Scots joined up and went to war in the great Highland and Lowland regiments. What is less well known is that many native Scots joined the armies of the colonies such as New Zealand, Australia, and Canada as they had emigrated there to live and work. Many also joined regiments such as the Liverpool Scottish in England. This exhibition marks 100 years since the start of the First World War and focuses on the men of the Scottish diaspora who continued the tradition of fighting for the empire.

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