Fringe acts show talents for all to enjoy

There would be no Edinburgh festivals without the performers, and there are 16,990 of them this year.

For one local group of children aged 10 to 16, this year's Fringe has been more eventful than usual. Oxgangs Youth Drama Group made their debut during the first week of the Fringe, with Find Me, a challenging play about a young woman experiencing mental health problems and how that impacts on her family.

"It has been one of the best weeks of my life," says Emily Bruce, 13, a pupil at Firrhill High in Edinburgh.

Staging a play at the Fringe is quite an achievement for a youth theatre group which only meets for two hours a week.

"We've been rehearsing since January," says Clark Edgar, also 13. "We can now look back and think, 'We've done a week on the Fringe.' "

In the grassy slopes of the Meadows, children clinging on to parents' hands are wandering around with balloons, eating ice-cream and hot dogs. Others are kicking a ball. There are people of all nationalities: Oriental, Asian, European, Australian, American. Beautiful, haunting South American pan pipes fill the air. Crowds flock around various performers.

That may all sound pretty normal, but normal cannot describe some of the acts: sword swallowing, fire eating, stilt walking, extreme acrobatics and even violin playing while balancing on a tightrope.

The laid-back atmosphere of the Meadows during summer sums up the spirit of the collective Edinburgh festivals. And Fringe Sunday is a day for all the family, when all the shows are free, making them accessible to all.

For those who criticise the commercialisation of the Fringe, Fringe Sunday shows that the festival is a celebration that all of Edinburgh's citizens, and anyone from further afield, should be able to enjoy.

A short walk away, the Royal Museum and the Museum of Scotland are busier than usual. The ever-popular Connect, the science and technology gallery with lots of interactive activities, is a child-magnet. A queue snakes around the Formula 1 test drive.

A group of children are learning about objects floating and sinking. The demonstrator holds up a small block of wood. They all shout out whether they think it will float or sink.

Without the performers, the Fringe would sink. But as it is, it is sailing, not sinking.

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