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Edinburgh, Scotland

With the launch of Continental's first direct flight from New York to Edinburgh (flying time: 6 1/2 hours), it's even easier for theater fans to cross the pond to take in the largest arts festival in the world. The Edinburgh Fringe (44-131/226-0026; www.edfringe.com ; August 8-30 ) offers audiences avant-garde theater, comedy, and dance, but the real fun lies in discovering talent long before your friends at home do—Emma Thompson and Jude Law once performed here. Founded in 1947 by performers who were rejected by the city's famed International Festival, the Fringe now offers more than 20,000 performances. Check out promising newcomers and big names alike at the Pleasance (60 The Pleasance; 44-131/556-6550 ) and the Gilded Balloon (Bristo Square; 44-131/226-2151 ). As with bagpipes and haggis, however, some Fringe shows aren't for everyone. Be brave and wear walking shoes. STAY The Glasshouse (2 Greenside Place; 44-131/525-8200; www.theetoncollection.com ; doubles from $380 ) combines a 150-year-old church façade with 1950's glamour. DON'T MISS A performance by comedian Demetri Martin, the 2003 winner of the Fringe's annual Perrier Award (the Oscar of stand-up comedy).
—Carolyn Cohagan

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