Edina Europa is a new Royal Mile walking tour for the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe, led by poet Ken Cockburn, which highlights Edinburgh’s longstanding links with Europe.

This leisurely, informative walk around the Canongate takes in world-famous landmarks like Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament, as well as hidden squares, closes and gardens. It uses the Old Town as a shifting stage for a performance of poetry, exploring Edinburgh’s relations with Europe, past and present. 

The Auld Alliance of Scotland and France influenced the city’s buildings, speech and liking for claret. Edinburgh was compared favourably to Paris, as well as Palermo, Prague and Potsdam. It became known as the ‘Athens of the North’ from its taste for classical buildings. Later tourists flocked to Edinburgh from across Europe, wanting to see for themselves this most wild and romantic of cities. Its 21st century parliament was designed by the Catalan architect, Enric Miralles.

The tour features poems by Scots dreaming of Europe, and by Europeans – tourists, exiles and enthusiasts ¬– dazzled and dumbfounded by their surroundings. The widowed Mary Stuart recalls Paris, local boy Robert Fergusson applauds an Italian tenor, Victor Hugo pictures the exiled French king Charles X rattling round Holyrood, and the Prussian journalist Theodor Fontane walks streets he recognises from ballads and the works of Walter Scott.

Ken Cockburn said: ‘I’ve always loved poems for the charge they pack in a small space. Reading poems while walking the city, we can slow down and appreciate our surroundings. The poems offer a new perspective on this same place, revealing how someone perhaps hundreds of years ago experienced it.’

Ken has presented poetry in schools, galleries, historic buildings and gardens. He combines his work writing, teaching and translating with leading poetry walks on the Royal Mile, linking poems and places along the way. This is his fourth year on the Edinburgh Fringe.

Edina Europa on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019

Walks start and end outside The Scottish Poetry Library (Venue 203) 2–18 August (not 7th, 12th), 11.00 (1h 30min)

Tickets £10 (£6) (£7, F); 2-for-1, 5–6 Aug; Previews, 2–4 Aug £7 (£5) (£5.50, F) from 0131 226 0000, https://tickets.edfringe.com