Edinburgh Festival 2012 (family edition)

Since becoming a dad in 2004, my favourite thing to do is to hang out with my children. It doesn’t really matter what we do, when they’re very young EVERYTHING is (or can be) fun.

I realised this fully when No 1 Son was 3ish. We’d been through the car wash (FUN) and he was helping me put air in the tyres, looking after the dust caps (very important not to drop them), and we were just having a chat and he said “We’re having great fun aren’t we, daddy?”. And I thought for a moment how brilliant and emotionally smart-for-a-3-year-old he was to say out loud, for my benefit, that this most practical and banal of activities that he was accompanying me on in large part out of simple necessity was “great fun”. And then I realised that actually he was honestly having great fun and so was I and yes…YES we were both having great fun just hanging out together.

And this has remained true. My boys are 6 and nearly-8 now and it’s still enough, most of the time, for us to just be together as a family. It’s also true, of course, that it’s actually a lot more fun if you can combine that with Doing Stuff too – football in the garden, learning how to throw a frisbee, bike rides and ice-pops on the kerb are our bread-and-butter-hanging-out-activities. And a couple of times a year we blow out a little – Norfolk beaches and a trip to Dinosaur World or our (now annual) trip to the Green Man Festival.

UNSA Agents at the Green Man festival 2011

This year, we’re taking the boys to the Edinburgh Festival for the first time. Which is massively exciting (so many brilliant adventures we’ve had there ourselves as artists and punters) but has also proved pretty stressful – trying to find shows that we’ll all enjoy at the right time in the day and without having to sell one of their organs to pay for it all*. So I asked some friends and our brilliant followers on twitter and, after some pretty time consuming opinion seeking and diary planning, we are now fully scheduled-up for 3 days of family festival action that I am really excited about. It might even be even-more-fun than putting air into tyres.

And I said to a few people that I’d post what we’re seeing here – it’s just taken me a few paragraphs to get round to it. Hopefully useful for some of you. And if anyone’s got any other suggestions for great shows suitable for families or younger people, it’d be great if you could post them below? Maybe we should have a rule that you can’t recommend your own show…

Also if anyone has any recommends for good, family(and purse)friendly eating places that’d be much appreciated. We’ll be going to Mamma’s on the Grassmarket to have chocolate and marshmallow (and haggis) toppinged  pizzas. Where else is good?

Shows We’re Excited About Seeing as a Family With 2 Boys aged 6 & nearly-8

One Minute Birdwatching
0930 + 1330 6-9 August only – FREE
West Princes Street Gardens – near Ross fountain, look out for event banner.
“Noisy and irreverent birdwatching for everyone. Start when instructed, whenever you see a bird say either its name (if you know it), or ‘bird’ (if you don’t), one word per bird, stop when instructed.”
Part of Escalator East to Edinburgh 

Fair, Brown & Trembling at Duddingston Kirk Manse Gardens
Times vary; venue sounds gorgeous and tickets are only £5 WIN!
“More earthy and magical than the future Cinderella, this Irish folk tale still has a girl, wicked sisters, a prince, a shoe and…? Find out in the beautiful gardens and help everyone live happily ever after.”

The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean
1100 @ Traverse at The Scottish Book Trust – £8 ticket (per person) for families
“The scrapbook is a labyrinth of memories with an abundance of places to hide. It is puzzling to everyone except its owner but the clues are in its pages… ”

The Road That Wasn’t There
12pm @ Laughing Horse at the Free Sisters – FREE
part of The Free Festival (free!)
“This is a story about a girl who followed a map off the edge of the world… In New Zealand there are some 56,000 kilometres of paper roads – streets and towns that exist only on surveyors’ maps. Or do they?”
(Other FREE events at Laughing Horse at The Free Sisters)

Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger”
1245 @ Assembly George Square (£8/£7)

This was recommended to me by Tom who is @FineChisel on twitter so thanks for that, Tom)
“Join Dr Brown and his Singing Tiger on a madcap adventure from breakfast to bedtime with a ski race, tennis match and slightly spectacular BMX finale. 

The Man Who Planted Trees
3pm @ Scottish Storytelling Centre (£9/£7)
“A unique blend of comedy, puppetry and inspiring storytelling. ‘It is very, very rare to find something that appeals as effortlessly to adults and children as this magical show.’ ***** (Scotsman)”

Morgan & West: Clockwork Miracles
430pm @ Teviot House (£9.50/£8.50)
This was recommended to me by Ben Monks on twitter (thanks, Ben) and it looks like great fun.
“Wander into the world of time travelling magicians Morgan and West. Uncover a multitude of magical marvels strewn hither and thither. But mostly thither.”

And while not strictly a family show, we’ll also be taking the kids to Wine Travel that has been written by Unlimited’s Clare. For clarity, the kids will not be tasting the wine.

Shows that we can’t see or are “keeping in our back pocket”

Petya and the Wolf
1030 @ Assembly Roxy

Showstoppers Family Matinees
Gilded Balloon Teviot 12, 13, 20, 21 only (times vary)
I heart the Showstoppers and am gutted we’re not there when these matinees are on. If you’ve no kids GO to their regular shows anyways!

The Golden Cowpat
1045 +1150 @ Pleasance Courtyard
This doesn’t start until the 13th (after we’ve left), otherwise I think I’d have taken a punt on this

Horrible Histories
My kids love Horrible Histories and if we were up for for longer I’d probably have taken them but since we aren’t, we’ve chosen “more sincerely fringey” fare instead…


* well there’s no point trying to sell any of mine, is there? Seen far too much use to be of worth to anyone but the most desperate now…