Monthly Archives: January 2015

Discovering Edinburgh’s Best Festivals in 2015

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Edinburgh labels itself as the “world leading festival city”, and with 12 major festivals showcasing over 25,000 performers in front of audiences of 4.2m it is hard to argue with the Scottish capital’s claim.

Here are three of the best festivals in Edinburgh that will induce copious amounts of side splitting laughter, unstoppable toe-tapping and intriguing intellectual insight.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Aug 7-31)

It is impossible not to get swept up in the creative wonderland that is the Edinburgh Fringe. Spanning most of August, Edinburgh buzzes with life as the world’s largest arts festival takes over the historic city. Thousands of acts perform in hundreds of venues with audiences spoilt for choice with acts covering a wide variety of genres. From eccentric comedy, to classic theatre and everything in-between- the fringe is like nothing else. It is a hotbed for up and coming talents as well established industry names. You’ll never know what to expect from each original show.

If you are planning to go to the Festival Fringe, you’d better not wait until August and compare possible solutions and costs for your stay soon, for example on venere.com. For artists who are thinking about participating: the registration form will be available early in the year. And for the visitors: the program will be published on 8 April. No matter what are your intentions, both artists and visitors will be able to find more informations on the official site edfringe.com.

Edinburgh International Book Festival (Aug 15-31)

Described as the “largest celebration of the written word in the world”, Edinburgh’s International Book Festival features over 750 events including debates, workshops and book signings with some of the world’s most acclaimed literary minds. Housed in the elegant Charlotte Square Gardens, visitors can engage their favourite writers in conversation and debate. Last year saw the likes of George RR Martin (author of Game of Thrones), Martin Ames and Haruki Murakami attend events at the festival. For more informations regarding the Book Festival, take a look at edbookfest.co.uk.

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival (Jul 17-26)

The sweet sound of jazz reverberates around Edinburgh for 10 soulful days in July. First set up in 1978 the festival has gone from strength to strength and now produces 140 gigs at 13 venues with some of the world’s finest jazz and blues musicians turning Edinburgh into a New Orleans of the north. Whether enjoying the music in cabaret-style lounges or grand clubs or even in the city’s gardens- the Edinburgh Jazz Festival will endear you to both this charming city and the music. Jazz & Blues fans can learn more about the festival on edinburghjazzfestival.com.

It’s not just in the summer when Edinburgh bursts with festival fun. Between April 4-19 visitors can sample a plethora of innovative and rousing science events at the International Science Festival. Also, for 10 days from October 23 visitors can enjoy the acclaimed Storytelling Festival. And not forgetting Edinburgh’s famed Hogmanay which brings in the New Year in style.

So what are you waiting for? Edinburgh is waiting.

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Discovering the posh palaces of Seoul

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photo by CC user aperezdc on Flickr

With the young K-pop stars capturing the attention of the world of the past few years, people have started to shift their sights from other Asian destinations to this tiny but fascinating country. In addition to its musical talent, the cuisine of the nation has begun to win over many adherents for its diversity of taste and texture experiences, as well as its healthy nature compared to other diets in other parts of the world.

All of this has generated a great deal of interest in South Korea, and the tourist arrivals have reflected this trend over the past half decade. While this nation’s break-neck pace of progress, its modernity, and its food are driving visits, Korea also has its fair share of historical attractions that are well worth exploring.

Located within Seoul city limits are a number of palaces built within the past 1000 years that housed members of the Joseon dynasty, ruling over their subjects in the Hermit Kingdom. If you are pressed for time, the following palaces of Seoul will give you the optimal cultural experience that are you are seeking out of your trip here.

Gyeongbok-gung

Being the largest of the palaces built during the Joseon dynasty, Gyeongbok-gung served as the center of Korean government until the invading Japanese burned it in the late 16th century. Rebuilt after this attack and another raid in 1910, this palace is still being restored to its former glory, but large parts are back to the way they were during their heyday.

On the grounds of this former royal residence are two museums, the National Palace Museum and the Korean Folk Museum, both of which are essential for any visitor seeking to understand the cultural background of those that call this country home in the present day.

Changdeok-gung

Also serving as a seat of government after the destruction of the former palace, Changdeok-gung is another temple that you can’t afford to miss as a cultural aficionado. One of the greatest highlights of this historical attraction is the Huwon, or “secret garden”, which is a rare piece of greenery in the midst of uber-urban Seoul that sprawls over 78 acres behind the palace.

Changgyeong-gung

Serving formerly as the summer palace for the monarchs that ruled during the Koryo dynasty, this historical point of interest holds more than 900 years of heritage within its gates. While this palace has its fair share of gates, pagodas, and other aspects of structural interest, Changyeong-gung is best known for its close proximity to the Jongmyo shrine, when many royal family members during the Joseon dynasty conducted holy rites.