Clare Teal: Fringe benefits with all the fun of a fantastic festival

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Edinburgh is a vibrant exciting and beautiful city any day of the year, but at festival time it swells to incorporate the hustle and frenzied bustle of 12 separate festivals, many occurring simultaneously in August providing nearly 2,500 different events to choose from.

Music, comedy, art, dance, literature, film and drama; in fact, any art form you could possibly imagine jumble together on every street corner, not forgetting the Royal Military Tattoo – together they form the largest annual cultural festival in the world. The Edinburgh International Festival kicked off in the Summer of 1947, in a bid to “provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit” and to bolster, encourage, enrich and celebrate British and International culture in the wake of the Second World War. The Festival Fringe sprung up the same year when eight additional theatre companies pitched up uninvited to offer alternative entertainment although now said Fringe is many times larger than its originator.

I was thrilled to take part in the first British Jazz Vocalist Festival held at the aptly titled Dirty Martini part of the sumptuous Le Monde Hotel at the heart of the festival on George Street. In addition to mine and pianist Grant Windsor’s two duo shows, each with its own very merry after hours jam session, we performed a live session in a huge marquee in front of a cheery audience for BBC Scotland.

I was also asked to guest with sensational musical comedy outfit that is The Horne Section, a group of the UK’s finest musicians fronted by comedian Alex Horne weaving a heady mix of funny routines, spontaneous stand up and improvised music. Guests have included Ed Byrne, Matt Lucas, Al Murray, Jimmy Carr, Tim Minchin and Neil Hannon.

Our drummer Benny Reynolds is an integral part of the section and brilliantly funny in his own right. I arrived at the purple inflatable udder that is The Underbelly fresh from my own show and was quickly sucked up into the hilarious chaos of The Horne Section, who knew Anita O’Day’s version of Tea For Two could be so funny with added trombone. With so much to see, I’d say Edinburgh has plenty to feel smug about