Edinburgh Festivals 2015: Top 5 picks

Our section editors narrow their Edinburgh Festivals picks down to a tick-'em-off-as-you-go top 5...

Preview by The Skinny | 27 Jul 2015


Franz Ferdinand and Sparks bring their FFS collaboration to the Edinburgh International Festival this month

1. Oneohtrix Point Never
Brooklyn prodigy Daniel Lopatin performs his new score to Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo's 1995 animation, Magnetic Rose. An unclassifiable force in modern electronica, Lopatin's ambient passageways into other worlds share more in common with the likes of Death Grips and Brian Reitzell than the current EDM invasion. This is going to get dark. 22 Aug, The Hub, 9.30pm, £25

2.  FFS
Franz Ferdinand and Sparks? Together? A transatlantic union of art rock daddies made possible, of course, by an accidental meeting outside Huey Lewis's dentist. Their live debut in Glasgow earlier this summer has quickly become the stuff of legend. Fingers crossed for a blazing rendition of Dick Around. And hey, maybe you'll get lucky and attract Ron Mael's never-ending gaze. 24 Aug, Festival Theatre, 8pm, from £20

3. Wave Movements
Another meeting of minds, this time between two of the more intriguing song arrangers from contemporary guitar rock, Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry and The National's Bryce Dessner, presenting their Wave Movements composition. They'll also be appearing with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to perform new piece Heart & Breath, where rhythm is literally dictated by the beating of the players' hearts. 28 Aug, The Hub, 9.15pm, £25

4. Sun Kil Moon
A real coup for Summerhall's Nothing Ever Happens Here gig series, former Red House Painter and all-round cantankerous egomaniac Mark Kozelek brings the right kind of laconic stream-of-conscious yarn-telling to the Fringe. Just don't ask him for an interview. 10 Aug, Summerhall, 8pm, £20

5. From Scotland With Love
An unexpected encore of King Creosote's sublime live soundtrack to Virginia Heath's 2014 documentary, which dutifully repurposes archive footage of old Scotland to present a moving snapshot of our ancestors’ working (and recreational) life in the early 20th century. 14 & 15 Aug, The Hub, 10.30pm/9.30pm, £25 [Dave Kerr]


A full-length version of Damien Jalet's Yama comes to Zoo Southside

1. Fable
Yorkshire theatre company Flanagan Collective, and now associate company with York Theatre Royal, return to the Fringe with a tale of the importance of planting trees based on the real life village of Ardfern on the North West Coast of Scotland. Various dates 5-30 Aug, Summerhall, 6.30pm, from £7

2. Yama
Full-length production of Damien Jalet’s work with Scottish Dance Theatre, staged in shorter form in 2014, exploring the shamanistic mythology of the sacred Japanese Tohoku mountains. Jalet’s background includes Olivier award-winning Babel and the 'No Light, No Light' Florence and the Machine music video. Various dates 22-29 Aug, Zoo Southside, 7.50pm, £14 (£12)

3. A Game of You
For those looking for something a bit more experimental, ONTROEREND GOED want to get to know you better in a show that’s all about people watching, presenting the third part of the Personal trilogy including The Smile Off Your Face, which blindfolded audience members. Various dates 25-30 Aug, Traverse Theatre, every 30 minutes between 2-5pm and 7-10pm, £18 (£13/£8)

4. The Jennifer Tremblay Trilogy
After winning Fringe Firsts for The List and The Carousel, Stellar Quines are back with The Deliverance, the third part of a trilogy by Quebecois writer Jennifer Tremblay. All three plays are performed by Maureen Beattie, and you can even see them all back-to-back on 17 Aug. Various dates 6-31 Aug, Assembly Roxy, various times, from £10

5. Echoes by Henry Naylor
Last year’s Fringe First winner Henry Naylor is back with another drama, having previously worked as a comedian. Echoes tells the interlocking stories of a school girl jihadi from London and a Victorian member of the Fishing Fleet. Various dates 5-31 Aug, Gilded Balloon, 5.30pm, from £5 [Emma Ainley-Walker]


Jonny and the Baptists, appearing at Summerhall during the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe

1. Comedians' Theatre Company 10th Anniversary
In the official Fringe programme's theatre section the casts for the productions celebrating Comedians Theatre Company's first decade are sublime super-groups of comedians, but we'd suggest you seek out their Free Fringe productions: Jo Romero Scenes from a Sensual Nature (8-29 Aug, Cowgatehead, 12pm, free) and The Double Life of Malcolm Drinkwater (various dates 6-30 Aug, The Counting House, 1.30pm, free)

2. Katia Kvinge: 140 Karakters
Two years ago Kvinge impressed us at the Edinburgh University Revue championship. Since graduating she's trained at famous US improv institution Second City and honed her characters with work-in-progress runs. This is her full debut show. Various dates 6-29 Aug, The Caves, 7.45pm, free

3. Summerhall's Comedy Hat Trick
Cheekily fitting three picks into one as we delve into Summerhall's batch of comedy – first with a duo of politically-minded comics: Mark Thomas's work-in-progress, Trespass (various dates, 6-30 Aug, 5pm, from £10), and Jonny and the Baptists: The End is Nigh (various dates 7-30 Aug, 7.50pm, from £9). Then there's also a certain Daniel Kitson with his theatre/comedy show Polyphony (various dates 7-30 Aug, 12.15pm, £12). Go collect 'em all.

4. Stand Rising
The future stars of comedy from the Scotland scene take over The Stand, including the mighty talented quartet of Gareth Waugh, Gareth Mutch, Robin Grainger, and Liam Withnail as the regular hosts with new guests each night. Trigger warning: Waugh may talk about his telescope. 7-30 Aug, The Stand Comedy Club III, 10.30pm, £8

5. Sajeela Kershi: Immigrant Diaries
Sajeela Kershi and her fellow comedian guests discuss their personal immigration stories to contrast with the heavy and political framing the topic often receives. Immigration and identity are two threads woven through many Fringe shows this year, so Kershi will have no shortage of talented comedians to make each line-up both funny and special. Various dates 6-30 Aug, The Assembly Rooms, 10pm, from £9 (£8) [Ben Venables]


Stills plays host to an exhibition by political duo kennardphillipps

1. Platform 2015
Platform 2015 is the first Edinburgh Art Festival headliner show dedicated to emergent artists. It takes place in the new information centre for the EAF (another first for the festival), making it a good first point of contact with the many exhibitions taking place across the city. 30 Jul-30 Aug, 9-11 Blair Street, free

2. kennardphillips: Here Comes Everybody
kennardphillipps' whole approach is entirely political, and they have a complete lack of interest with the more usual art community audiences and the idea of making a career out of the art world. They are perhaps also best known for the 'Tony Blair Selfie' (a quick Google will reveal all). 31 July-25 October, Stills (and St James Centre), free

3. Remote Centres: Performances from Outlandia
An intriguing-sounding exhibition promising a ‘re-configuring of the Outlandia field-station,’ with performances and sound works originally created at Outlandia by 20 different artists, poets, writers, musicians and members of the Nevis community. 30 Jul-30 Aug, Tent Gallery, free

4. Marvin Gaye Chetwynd: The King Must Die
Chetwynd's performances have themselves become noteworthy events in these kinds of city-wide festivals. Usually choreographed entirely by Chetwynd (not trained in dance), with all the costumes fabricated by the artist too (again, with no formal background in textiles). They're exciting and more than a bit ridiculous. 30 Jul-30 Aug, New Parliament House, free

5. The Number Shop: Work Out
The Number Shop is a new venue and studio complex, so it’s nice to see EAF including it within their main programme. For it, the venue is showcasing new work from their ten studio residents, plus a whole series of 'come and meet us'-type events, including Pecha Kucha talks, Q&As, and workshops. 1-30 Aug, The Number Shop, free [Adam Benmakhlouf]


"Cultural treasure" William McIlvanney returns to the Edinburgh International Book Festival

1. Helle Helle: Big Ideas in Intimate Details
It’s good advice to each year try to discover something new at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, as self improvement and also to allow smug advice to those less informed. Helle Helle’s novels have been decorated with all sorts of awards and acclaim in her native Denmark and are now finally translated into English. Be among the first to get on board. 17 Aug, Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre, 7pm, £7 (£5)

2. Kirsty Logan and Jón Kalman Stefánsson: Vivid Tales from the Wilderness
The trajectory of Scotland’s very own Kirsty Logan has soared since she followed her short story collection with five star debut novel The Gracekeepers. Here she discusses literary landscapes alongside award-winning Icelandic author Jón Kalman Stefánsson. 18 Aug, The Spiegeltent, 10.15am, £10 (£8)

3. Salena Godden and William McLellan: Art Saves Lives
Poet Salena Godden departs from her raw and bawdy rhymes to show us her softer side in Springfield Road, her nostalgic look back at 70s life. She is joined by fellow memoirist William McLellan as they share their inspirational stories. 21 Aug, Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre, 2pm, £7 (£5)

4. Sean Michaels and Anna Smail: Electricity, Music and Memory
Michaels started his creative life right here at The Skinny and with such substantial grounding it’s unsurprising he’s gone far. His Giller Prize-winning debut Us Conductors treads its very own literary path, telling the story of the theremin (see also The Skinny's 10th Birthday night at Jura Unbound, 23 Aug). 22 Aug, Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre, 7pm, £7 (£5)

5. William McIlvanney: The Poetry in Everyday Scottish Lives
Each year that he attends EIBF we will strongly suggest you do the same: do whatever it takes to see this rarest of Scottish cultural treasures. A man who fills a stage with words and character. His true greatness has been gradually realised over recent years – come play your part. 27 Aug, Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, 6.45pm, £10 (£8) [Alan Bett]

More from The Skinny:

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe: When to visit, how to get tickets, and where to go

Fringe Food - our guides to the best food and drink near some of the Fringe's main venues
• Pubs, cafes & restaurants near The Stand
• Bars, on-the-go options and coffee shops near Summerhall
• Places to eat and drink near Gilded Balloon and Pleasance Dome