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37 things to do in Edinburgh this June

Written by
Niki Boyle

Festival season gets fully under way this month, with the Leith, Juniper, Film, Art, Magic and Cake (cake!) fests poking their heads above the parapet (not to mention a few Fringe previews giving a taste of things to come). There's also the long-awaited stadium visit from Dave Grohl and his hard-rocking cohorts, plus a new ballet production from the ever-so-talented Matthew Bourne (who previously delivered adaptations of 'Edward Scissorhands' and an all-male 'Swan Lake').

Theatre & Dance

Yer Granny, King’s Theatre, Tue Jun 2-Sat Jun 6
A diabolical 100-year-old granny is eating her family out of house and home in this adaptation of smash-hit Argentinian comedy classic ‘La Nona’, starring Gregor Fisher (‘Gary Tank Commander’), Paul Riley (‘Still Game’), Jonathan Watson (‘Only An Excuse?’) and more.

Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue Jun 9-Sat Jun 13
Celebrated choreographer Bourne takes Bizet’s popular opera ‘Carmen’ and transplants it to a greasy garage-diner in 1960s small-town America, where a handsome stranger whips locals up into a frenzy of greed, lust, betrayal and revenge.

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, Edinburgh Playhouse, Fri Jun 12-Sun Jun 14
Michael Flatley heads up another Irish dance extravaganza in this new production featuring lightening-fast legs and stock-still upper bodies. Although we’re sure there’s more to it than that.

The Driver’s Seat, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Fri Jun 19-Sat Jun 27
Muriel Spark’s dark comic-thriller is adapted for the stage by National Theatre of Scotland. In two gradually intertwining narratives, enigmatic young woman Lise travels to an unnamed European city and assumes a set of bizarre new personas, while in a police incident room, a killer is sought...


Fred MacAulay and Fringe Friends, The Stand, Wed Jun 10
Fringe warm-up season begins in earnest this June, with ‘Him Off the Radio’ Fred Mac kicking off the procession of preview shows, along with Ro Campbell , Susie McCabe and another friend tbc.

An Evening with David Sedaris, Usher Hall, Mon Jun 15
One of America’s preeminent humorists comes to the capital to promote his book of narrative essays ‘Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls’, among other compelling creative outpourings.

Science Fiction Double Feature, The Banshee Labyrinth, Thu Jun 18
Nothing to do with ‘Rocky Horror’, but instead a double-whammy of comedians warming up their Fringe muscles by riffing on their favourite movies: ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Beetlejuice’. Though if you ask us, neither of those were really sci-fi.

Fringe preview: Tony Law and Viv Groskop, The Stand, Tue Jun 30
Yup, it’s another one, but we’re actually quite excited about this ‘un: Law is an energetic whirlwind of barmy bizarrity, while journalist and comic Groskop brings a welcome, feminist slant to the occupation.


Things to do

Edinburgh Zoo Nights, Edinburgh Zoo, Fri Jun 5, 19 & 26
The summer’s season of after-hours events at the Zoo features a paleontological theme to go with its ‘Dinosaurs Return!’ exhibition, as well as the usual smattering of street food stalls, performers and activities – but to be honest, the main attraction is still the animals themselves, and the ability to observe them in the evening without having to wade through masses of school kids to do it.

Scottish Juniper Festival, Summerhall, Fri Jun 12-Sun Jun 14
With gin currently the trendy tastemaker’s drink of choice, there’s no better time to celebrate its charms (accompanied by ice and a slice, of course). And no better place than Summerhall, home of Pickering’s Gin.

Leith Festival, various venues, Sat Jun 13-Sun Jun 21
Edinburgh’s liveliest neighbourhood throws its hands in the air like it just don’t care, with theatre shows, live music, spoken word, comedy, fairground rides and the all-important Gala Day parade down Leith Walk to the Links.

Ewan Morrison, Scottish National Gallery, Wed Jun 17
As well as having an adaptation of one of his novels screening at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this month (his sex-focused debut, ‘Swung’), Morrison’s also using this free lunchtime chat to discuss how he invented the selfie 25 years ago.

Simon Armitage, Scottish National Gallery, Thu Jun 18
One of the nation’s favourite poets pops into Edinburgh to discuss the challenges of writing poetry for BBC project ‘The Great War: An Elegy’, which syncs up with the Portrait Gallery’s current WWI exhibition.

Rally & Broad, The Bongo Club, Fri Jun 19
The current season of performance cabaret night R&B finishes with an ‘Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye’ special, featuring Ross Sutherland, Dan Willson (Withered Hand), Hannah Silva, Ryan Van Winkle and Caro Bridges.

Cake Fest Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sun Jun 21
We know it’s cool to roll your eyes every time a new festival pops up in Edinburgh, but come on – the city’s been crying out for this one. In addition to a foodie market, kids’ workshops and general entertainment, Cake Fest will also feature the real-time construction of an edible Edinburgh cake map – followed swiftly by its utter destruction and devouring, we imagine. 

Edinburgh International Magic Festival, various venues, Fri Jun 26-Sat Jul 4
It's the sort of thing you might publicly write off as being a bit naff but secretly get really excited about: magic. The programme for the Ed Int Mag Fest (as literally no-one calls it, though we have just had an idea for a new magazine festival...) gets better every year, with 2015 featuring immersive adventure zones, late night horror magic and art exhibitions. Check out our preview for more info (and pretend you're only looking at it for a laugh if anyone catches you).


Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show, until Sun Jun 7
There are over 430 students graduating from the ECA this year, among them the potential Turner Prize winners and art superstars of tomorrow. This graduation showcase is your chance to scope out the artistic talent of the future.

Lee Miller and Picasso, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, ongoing
The strong and long-lasting bond that developed between American photographer Lee Miller and Spanish artist Pablo Picasso after they met in summer 1937 was enshrined in more than 1000 photos and six portraits. This exhibition gathers a select 100 snaps plus one painting and one drawing, to tell the tale of a friendship that spanned many years and experiences.

Artist Rooms: Roy Lichtenstein, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, ongoing
One of the most radical and influential artists of the 20th century, American Pop Art master Roy Lichtenstein gets a wide-ranging exhibition of his works at the Modern Art Gallery.

MC Escher, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Sat Jun 27-Sun Sep 27
Dutch graphic artist MC Escher - he of the impossible perspectives and brain-melting optical illusions - is the subject of this retrospective comprising nearly 100 prints and drawings stretching across his whole career.

Phyllida Barlow, Fruitmarket Gallery, Sat Jun 27-Sun Oct 18
Edinburgh Art Festival presents a special exhibition by renowned and highly influential British artist Phyllida Barlow, creator of imposing, large scale sculptural installations composed of inexpensive everyday materials. 


Spy, general release from Fri Jun 5
‘Bridesmaids’ director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy re-team for this espionage comedy, as CIA desk jockey Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is tasked with stepping out of her comfort zone and into the field.

Film in the City, Grassmarket and St Andrew Square, Sat Jun 6-Sun Jun 14
The city hosts two weekends of free outdoor film screenings in the run-up to the Edinburgh International Film Festival (see below), including ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’. Check out our preview for full listings.

Jurassic World, general release from Fri Jun 12
Chris Pratt continues on his post-‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ leading man trajectory in this highly anticipated dino-franchise reboot.

Edinburgh International Film Festival, various venues, Jun 17-28
Crowd-pleasing seems to be the order of the day at the 69th EIFF, with a ‘Back to the Future’ live score, two strands dedicated to US genre movies and a screening of Disney-Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ among the highlights. Check out our recommendations for the top ten events at the fest to find out more.

Mr Holmes, general release from Fri Jun 19
Ian McKellen has impressed the critics with his turn as the elderly and now retired detective, who contemplates unsolved cases, nuclear war and the decline of his own once-sharp mental powers.

Minions, general release from Fri Jun 26
For those with children of a certain age (typically around 30ish), the new ‘Star Wars’ movie is the biggest film event of the year. For those with actual children, it’s this much-anticipated spin-off starring the wee yellow critters from the ‘Despicable Me’ movies.

Slow West, general release from Fri Jun 26
An ensemble Western with a local accent, ‘Slow West’ spotlights rising star Kodi Smit-McPhee (‘The Road’, ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’) as a Scot on a bloody mission in the old West, with sterling character support from Michael Fassbender and Ben Mendelsohn. 

Music & Nightlife

Amanda Palmer, The Queen’s Hall, Mon Jun 1 & Waterstone’s West End, Jun 2
The Dresden Doll and alt/cult postergirl makes a solo appearance at the Queen’s Hall before signing copies of her new book, ‘The Art of Asking’, the day after.

Boiler Room: Stay True Scotland, four secret venues, Thu Jun 4
The live streaming brand makes a one-day stopover in Scotland, with guests including Green Velvet, Underground Resistance, Nina Kraviz, Len Faki, Optimo, Slam, Gary Beck, Clouds and Neil Landstrumm. Of course, the venue & time details are secret, but you're an enterprising sort - we're sure you can figure it out.

Damien Rice, Usher Hall, Tue Jun 9
Eccentric Irish singer-songwriter who scored big in the charts with his 2002 debut album ‘O’ and its 2006 successor ‘9’, then went quiet for several years before returning in 2014 with ‘My Favourite Faded Fantasy’.

Ash, Liquid Room, Tue Jun 9
Northern Irish post-grunge trio still going strong almost 20 years on from their classic 1997 album ‘1977’. In support of their sixth album ‘Kablammo!’, their first in eight years, they bring the mosh to the intimate (sweaty) surrounds of the Liquid Room.

Bwani play 'Graceland', Sneaky Pete’s, Fri Jun 12
Let’s be honest, Paul Simon’s never going to show his face in 150-capacity sweatbox Sneaky Pete’s, is he? In which case, it’s best left to Edinburgh’s premier afro-beat pop-rock quartet to play through his highly influential ‘Graceland’ album front-to-back. Maybe this’ll start a new trend of bands covering seminal albums by other artists?

Substance Free Party, The Bongo Club, Fri Jun 12
One of Edinburgh’s foremost house and techno nights opens its doors for free… for about half an hour after doors open, after which it’ll be a fiver. Still, we guess that title was hard to turn down.

The Strypes, The Caves, Sun Jun 14 & Mon Jun 15
Ridiculously young Irish rock’n’roll revivalists from County Cavan who leave an early Beatles-esque mob of screaming fans in their wake everywhere they travel.

Foo Fighters, Murrayfield Stadium, Tue Jun 23
Dave Grohl's US rock posse take on Edinburgh's biggest venue as part of their 'Sonic Highways' 2015 tour, with sanguine support from Royal Blood and Honeyblood.

Vitalic, La Belle Angle, Fri Jun 26
Veteran French superstar DJ Pascal Arbez AKA Vitalic has been responsible for more great party nights than you’ve had hot dinners. Don’t miss out, in other words, as he appears in Edinburgh at this rescheduled date courtesy of promoters Karnival & Pulse.

Alden Penner and Michael Cera, The Electric Circus, Sat Jun 27
Member of cult Montreal indie band The Unicorns Alden Penner teams-up with comic actor and sometimes musician Michael Cera – yes, that one – for a tour that will see them perform together playing each others’ songs. Celebrity selfie hunters take note.

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