The Festival Fringe in Edinburgh is the biggest Arts festival in the world. With over 45,000 performances in over 250 venues dotted all over Edinburgh, it gets very busy in August, the population triples, and visitors from all over the world descend on the city.
But it gets that busy for a reason, it is a fantastic experience, and if it’s not on your bucket list, it should be. It has such a huge variety of acts – comedy, theatre, musicals, performing acts, children’s shows, music, opera, cabaret, and dance. A whole lot of bizarre, eccentric and hilarious performers line the Royal mile and streets around the Old Town with snippets of their shows to tempt you into the venues. The venues themselves can be anything from a café basement to a gothic church, to world class venues like the Assembly Rooms and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The food in Edinburgh is brilliant anyway but during the Fringe, tents pop up and stalls arrive selling food from every corner of the globe. Traffic gets hectic, accommodation fills up, and streets get crowded. So to make sure you enjoy yourself and experience everything a little planning is needed…
First of all, before you go, do a little research. The Fringe has a fantastic website which lists every show, as well as the venues, an interactive map and prices. Some of the shows cost money, with tickets ranging from around £4 up to maybe £15 for the well known performers. I would suggest finding maybe one or two you really want to see, buy the tickets in advance on the website, then find other shows to fit around these.
The Fringe app is brilliant, I used it this year to visit and it was unbelievably helpful. There is a “Nearby now” tab which makes the whole planning so much easier. When you walk out at the end of a show just press the button and it’ll tell you which shows are starting next and where they are.
There are plenty of free shows, 2for1 tickets and the Virgin half price hut which releases half price tickets on the day so leave some spare time to see what you can find while your there. A walk up the Royal Mile is a must and you will probably find something you fancy there. As well as the shows make sure you try something a little different like a walking literary tour, a ghost bus ride or a Harry Potter tour. Edinburgh has a fantastic haunted history, the ghost walks and St Mary’s Close are fascinating. Also you might want a bit of peace at some point so try and factor in some time to relax, a walk up Carlton Hill or Arthur’s seat offer the best view of the city, or sit outside for lunch in one of the many cafes on the Royal mile or St James’ Square for a bit of people watching.
Comfortable shoes are vital during the fringe, although Edinburgh has quite a compact city centre it is quite hilly and many of the streets are cobbled. Edinburgh has a really good transport network of buses, black cabs and now the new trams which are all easy to use and will get you to each venue but the roads get busy so its far easier to walk.
Also prepare for the weather, Edinburgh likes to show off it's weather and you will most likely see all four seasons in one day. It shouldn’t be too cold so a light waterproof jacket folded up in your bag would be handy, an umbrella if you like, although you could buy one if you need one on the day. Layers are the best idea as you can remove them when the sun decides to shine.
Depending on how long you plan to visit for, going in large numbers makes it a bit harder, trying to suit everyone is not easy, so plan carefully. The shows listings on the website include age limits so if you are bringing kids keep these in mind. The Fringe is absolutely for kids as well, they will really enjoy themselves but make sure you take your time and don’t try to cram to much in. Carry water and snacks in your bag as well, its easier than trying to find a shop without a long queue.
That’s about it, just remember to take it slow, and have plenty of breaks, and make use of the app! Read more about Edinburgh's Festival Fringe here. Any more tips anyone can think of? Leave a comment below