Edinburgh International Festival Virgin Money Fireworks Concert 2013

My partner and I arrived at the clock face entrance of Princes Street Gardens around 8; we followed the stream of people through the gardens to the lowest level whereby there were already masses of firework lovers camped out on the grass. We promptly sat down on what we thought was a prime spot and quickly realised we were ill prepared compared to the family next to us that looked like they intended to camp for a week with chairs, blankets  and what looked like half of Marks and Spencer’s to go section!

Following 3 tester flares and numerous announcements telling us the event would begin in 30, 25, 20, 10 and 2 minutes we were eagerly anticipating what we thought was going to the fireworks display of the year. Sadly as soon as the music started and the first fireworks started to go off we realised the only ‘prime’ view were going to get that night was of a ginormous tree. More disturbingly the couple in front of us who were certainly not in their youth were acting like horny teenagers, displaying way too much PDA for such an event – fair to say that so far this had not been the show we had imagined.

After some careful manoeuvring and some dirty looks from the peoples whose views we were obscuring attempting to get past we finally settled in what looked to be a better position and were kindly offered an end of a blanket to sit on by some lovely woman who had obviously enjoyed a drink or two that night. We could now see just over half the castle and thus the fireworks as well as seeing some of the orchestra. The music itself was pleasant enough and very well played but not really for the lay person with limited experience of classical music like ourselves and we couldn’t really get into it, especially with the stopping and starting after each short piece explaining that we were now ploughing the fields in the next piece or wearing a tutu in the previous.As to the fireworks themselves, they were truly beautiful in some cases with lots of colour and the silver and gold glittering ones which were just stunning (appalling description I know but they genuinely looked like someone has tipped a giant glitter shaker over the castle). The famous waterfall of sparks over the castle edge was also a must see especially with the strong wind which caused them to spray every which way. My only issue was the noise they made – or lack of it, having watched the fireworks at Meadowbank for Bonfire Night which were so loud and commanding you couldn’t help but smile and be in awe, we were expecting a bit more oomph! In all fairness the fireworks were choreographed to the music which was not the most dramatic of programs but still as my partner put it there was not much bang for your buck (cringe)!

In all, I would just rate the event as average, I’m sure if you had a better viewing position (ideally in the expensive seats in front of the orchestra) and had come prepared to dig down for the winter like many had,  the event would hold a lot more appeal. My advice would be to get there early and try out a number of positions, take lots of food and warm clothes (and perhaps the odd drink) and go to the loo before you arrive because there were only 5 portaloos with a massive line and no lighting!

Victoria Fennelly