First held in 1947, Edinburgh hosts the annual Edinburgh
Festival, a group of official and independent festivals held annually over
about four weeks starting in early August. The number of visitors attracted to
Edinburgh for the Festival is roughly equal to the total population of the
city. The Fringe has superseded the International Festival both in size and
popularity and from its small beginnings had grown to encompass 1867 different
shows staged in 261 venues by 2006.
Whilst the most well-known element of the International
Festival is the Edinburgh Fringe, the largest performing arts festival in the
world, the others being the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh
International Book Festival.
Outside festival season, Edinburgh continues to support a
number of theatres and production companies. The Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh
Festival Theatre and Kings Theatre stage large touring shows and the Royal
Lyceum Theatre has its own company. The Traverse Theatre presents a more
contemporary programme of plays.
Edinburgh has a high number of museums and libraries, many
of which are national institutions. These include the Museum of Childhood, the
Museum of Edinburgh, the National War Museum of Scotland, the National Library
of Scotland, the Royal Museum and the Museum of Scotland.
These and as a consequence of its historical heritage and
its royal connections mean that over one million overseas visitors are
attracted to Edinburgh each year making it the second most visited tourist
destination in the UK.
In 2011, fDi magazine named Edinburgh as the Best Small City
of the Future. Both Edinburgh's planned Georgian New Town and its Medieval Old Town were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995.
Apart from tourism, Edinburgh's economy is now largely based
on the service industry with a particular emphasis on banking. Banking has been
a part of the economic life of Edinburgh for over 300 years, with the
establishment of the Bank of Scotland - now part of the Lloyds Banking Group -
by an act of the original Parliament of Scotland in 1695. Based on equity
assets, Edinburgh is the second financial centre in the UK and the fourth in
Europe. However over-enthusiastic (or more accurately reckless) lending by both
Bank of Scotland and, in particular, the Royal Bank of Scotland led to
tax-payer bail-outs and write-offs for both banks. Alex Salmond’s pre-crisis
statement that an independent Scotland would, as a major financial centre, be a
tiger economy like Iceland and Eire now looks rather silly.
Two professional football clubs are local to Edinburgh,
Hibernian and Heart of Midlothian, or Hibs and Hearts as they are more commonly
There are four universities in Edinburgh with over 100,000
students studying in the city. Established by Royal Charter in 1583, the
University of Edinburgh is one of Scotland's ancient universities and is the
fourth oldest in the country after St Andrews, Glasgow and Aberdeen.