Every year during the month of August, the Fringe Festival runs in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Fringe claims to be the largest arts festival in the world, and I believe it. Let’s just say we ordered a programme / schedule ahead of the festival, and it was bigger than most of my text books from university. Acts are extremely diverse, and our selection included the likes of music performances, dance, stand-up, monologues, theatre, cabaret & variety, drag shows and magic & hypnosis.
I first heard of the existence of the Fringe Festival during my first project in London, when I was on a team of Scotsman. Naturally they bigged-up the event, and naturally I was skeptical of its greatness. Just because a Delawarian boasts of the annual Punkin Chunkin event doesn’t mean that it’s suitable for everyone … or anyone, really.
Rumours of this festival’s eminence, however, seemed to pervade conversations and recommendations from other circles, and it was this year that we decided to take the plunge and check it out.
It’s worth noting that Edinburgh, where the Fringe takes place, is worth the visit in its own right. Edinburgh has a castle on a hill that is utterly magnificent; but I’d goes as far as to say the whole city is a giant castle…! In the event that you can’t make it to Edinburgh in August for the festival, I highly suggest checking it out any time of the year. I have a feeling the Fringe vibe persists the whole year round, and let’s be honest, Scottish accents sound amazing.
The Fringe, I will be honest, was a bit overwhelming for a first-timer, so I’ve pulled together some tips below ::
How do I know which shows to see?
Honestly? Just Guess! All the shows will be entertaining, and there’s honestly way too much going on to try to understand everything & prioritise.
We downloaded the daily PDF show listing, picked the time for the first show we wanted to see, then used the times as our guide. You can see the genre of the act & read a blurb on the website to get a feel for what you may or may not sign up for. We literally flew blind and purchased tickets for a few shows a day & gave it a go.
Also, if you download the Fringe app, you can search for shows that will be showing in your vicinity. Pretty cool, hey!?
The last option is to walk The Royal Mile (the main big street in the old town), and wait for people to hand you hundreds of flyers for their shows. Pick the ones you like, then go to either the main ticket booths or the venue box offices.
So how much are tickets?
There are a few different pricing schemes at the Fringe, but full price tickets (at least the shows we went for) were between £6 – £15. If you buy tickets online ahead of time, they have these sweet machines that allow you to swipe your card and all your purchased tickets pop out at you.
There’s also a half-price ticket booth, so if you’re really not fussed, you can show up and buy some tickets at discounted prices for shows throughout the day.
Lastly, there are boat loads of “free” shows at the Fringe as well. However, I must have heard 100s of times that these shows are “free to enter” but they’re not “free to leave,” and the performers will ask for donations for what you thought the show was worth at the end of the performance.
How early should I arrive to the shows?
Generally, I’d get there 15 minutes early if you want to guarantee yourself a good seat (or a seat at all). If you’re not too fussed about Standing Room Only, then I’d say try to get there with 5 mins to spare so you have enough time to grab a beer for the show 🙂
How to get there from London?
Train or plane. It’s up to you, really! Flights from London City are pretty good if you live centrally, and they’re not too expensive. We flew, but others preferred to train it up. The choice is yours!
Where should I stay?
Central! Edinburgh really isn’t that big, and you can pretty much walk anywhere you need to go within 20 minutes. Stay towards the central part of the city if you can, it is totally worth it.
If you get stuck outside of the centre, however, there seems to be an excellent bus system as well as a tram. And then there’s always Uber.
What else could I be doing whilst in Edinburgh?
- Take a quick hike up to Arthur’s Seat, which is a dormant volcano & has incredible views of the city and the water near by
- Visit the old town, bask in the incredible architecture
- Visit the castle, also apparently built on top of a volcano
- Go for a walking tour! We didn’t do this in Edinburgh, but had we not been surrounded by thousands of people, this would have been on the list
Anything in particular I should be eating?
- Haggis, if you don’t care to know what’s in it
- Scotch, duh
- Tablet. Tablet is essentially the Scottish version of FUDGE and it is TO DIE FOR!!!!
- Oh and this pork roast from Oink!