Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the biggest Arts festival in the world! That’s impressive, isn’t it? I was amazed too. My cab driver mentioned it brings in over 50,000 performances, gush! Equally as fantastic is Edinburgh itself, it’s no wonder this festival takes place here. Forgive me if I’m just stating the obvious but Edinburgh is absolutely gorgeous.
Inevitably, the combination of having a dazzling city uprooted with creative arts (there’s everything from street theatre to comedians doing the cabaret) means that everywhere is completely booming. There’s such a buzzing (excuse the word choice, I hate it, but it’s relevant so I’ll just go with it) atmosphere that it’s impossible not to enjoy yourself.
The trip was very last-minute so despite trying to be organised, nothing was. And since I will one gazillion percent be attending Fringe next year, I thought I would reflect on the 48 hours spent in Edinburgh and give myself (and you lot) some tips to keep in mind.
The Theatre Scoop
Make sure you know where you are going (all the rest is jargon).
There’re over 300 venues showing performances. But there are 4 main venue companies – Pleasance, Underbelly, Assembly and Gilded Balloon.
The Assembly is one of the biggest companies and has sh*t loads of different venues which are spread out all over the city. FYI The Assembly Rooms (George Street) has nothing to do with Assembly venue (George Square) – it’s basically just to confuse you, it doesn’t help that they are NOWHERE near each other either.
Luckily all of the shows we watched were around the Pleasance. Which suited us as the Pleasance has it’s own self contained courtyard – perfect for a civilized glass of red before/in between/after shows. And if you’re planning on seeing multiple shows at the Pleasance, it means you don’t have to walk too far!
*The Pleasance Dome is not in the courtyard like most other shows around the Pleasance.
Be sure to find out the start and end time of each show and work out exactly how long it takes to get from one venue to the next. You should be able to walk to each venue within 15 minutes but I kept allowing an hour in between shows and just still only scraped making them.
With that being said I really wouldn’t book too many tickets, or any for that matter. Just be flexible and spontaneous – the shows we randomly went along too turned out to be the best!
Oh and another thing – if you have booked tickets you can collect them from ANY box office. Despite confirmation emails suggesting otherwise. Ignore them, they make you miss your show.
The Sleeping Situation
Edinburgh’s population triples in size during August, clearly it’s well worth booking in advance. As always, I’d recommend booking with AirB&B. Take a look at booking.com too – there’s some great deals (depending on when you book).
I presumed we’d be staying somewhere central but if, like me, you’re searching for a place two days before, then scrap trolling through city center places and consider staying somewhere a little bit outside of Edinburgh. Yes, it’s convenient to stay in the mix of it – but after getting seriously frustrated at the lack of choice (like it wasn’t my own wrongdoing) I gave up on the pokey-and-over-priced-spare-room-in-a-shared-flat option, and opted for the luxurious-night-sleep-with-great-views-room just 30 minutes north of the center. It actually worked out cheaper too!
The Dress Code
There isn’t one. Anything goes. Call me pessimistic but it will probably be raining so waterproofs should be on your list. Don’t use a brolly as you’ll end up poking someone’s eye out. Wear comfy shoes – a lot of the shows are in the Old Town, which is basically a big hill, with lots of cobbles. It’s more than likely that you will be walking around all day so sneakers are a good choice!
The Edinburgh Tourist
It’s hard to get out of the Fringe vortex once you’re in it. But in all seriousness, make sure you take time to appreciate all the delights Edinburgh has to offer. With its striking castle and historic streets and the miles and miles of unspoilt British countryside that surrounds it – there’s no doubt you’ll fall in love with this City.
Next time, I’m taking a day to explore the Castle, climb Arthur’s Seat and take a little wonder around the National Museum. Maybe even try a little bit of Haggis? Too far? Still. Can you tell I’m won over? I am..