After weeks of buzz, book signings, bizarre theatre and big personalities, the Edinburgh Festivals have let their curtain finally fall. The city has returned to relative normality: the New Town shopping streets’ lunchtime rush now consists of bleary-eyed office workers emerging from their August hibernation; the little that’s left of the Festivals is just flotsam in the centre of George Street. This year’s events will have brought in hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of additional revenue for this beautiful city, and 2016’s International Festival culminated in the Virgin Money Fireworks.
On Monday evening — after escaping to East Lothian for the day — I stuffed my camera into my rucksack, we zipped up our jackets (a bit too cosy, for an August evening) and walked south towards Calton Hill. The narrow pathway up the slope, which usually plays host to the odd dog walker, was crammed with bodies crawling towards the summit. We joined rows of silhouettes by the Observatory House walkway, waiting for the Castle and iconic Balmoral tower to be lit up by the explosions.
Although we were far from the ‘official’ concert spot of Princes Street Gardens, a dark figure somewhere behind us was streaming the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s accompanying performance. As the music built into a crescendo, the flashes and delayed bangs grew more intense and I manically clicked my camera shutter. There were some really beautiful combinations of fireworks, but I especially liked when the colours burned off and just the crackling glitter framed the clock tower.
As we spiralled our way back down the dark paths to the foot of the hill — dodging potholes and people dripping their empty beer cans — we couldn’t help thinking about what Hogmanay could be like in Scotland‘s festival city, and how perhaps, this year, we might just brave the urban buzz and stick around for it…