Few cities make such a strong impression as Edinburgh. Dubbed the ‘Athens of North’, Scotland’s ancient capital is undeniably beautiful, with a grandeur to match Paris or Prague, Vienna or Rome. There is the medieval Old Town with its labyrinth of soaring tenements and dark, sinister alleyways; the Georgian New Town with its genteel grey façades and wide, airy streets; and dominating everything, the brooding presence of the Castle. Fittingly, such a setting provides the stage for the Edinburgh International Festival and its various offshoots, which together comprise the biggest arts event on the planet. But Edinburgh is more than just the sum of its arts. Its Hogmanay party is the biggest celebration in the northern hemisphere, and the arrival of the new Scottish Parliament has brought confidence and vitality to a city that was always thought of as being rather straight-laced. Edinburgh, once the most puritanical of places, has learned how to have fun, how to be stylish, and, heaven forbid, even how to be just a wee bit ostentatious.