The performers of Edinburgh have never been content to keep the practice of the craft confined to stuffy theatres and conventional concert halls; the best shows in the city often can been seen in the shadows of an 1100 year old castle or inside an oversized, upside down purple cow.

Undoubtedly the biggest name in Edinburgh performance, the annual Festival Fringe is held in August and is world-renowned for bringing out the best and wackiest acts from the city and beyond. The festival, which in 2005 sold more than 1.3 million tickets, initially began as an offshoot of the also-popular Edinburgh International Festival , which since 1947 has staged more conventional performances in music, opera and theatre. The Fringe, however, has made a name of its own (and eventually has become the largest and most popular arts festival in the world) by bringing in the best talent and constantly pushing the envelope—a new festival venue for 2006 is the E4 UdderBELLY, the aforementioned inverted bovine building.

Running concurrently with the Fringe and Edinburgh International festivals, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo , is a fantastically popular spectacle of music and dance held at the iconic Edinburgh Castle.

But if you aren’t lucky enough to make it to Edinburgh during festival season, there are still plenty of performances always going on in the city—just check Usher Hall , a national landmark and the most celebrated classical and contemporary music venue, or any of the multitude of small clubs that feed off of the thriving local music scene.