Every year in August, the Scottish city of Edinburgh comes alive with street performers, actors, dancers and comedians. The reason for this is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, which sees venues of all shapes and sizes across the city transformed into performance spaces playing host to a vibrant mix of concerts, theatre shows, comedy and much, much more.
The Edinburgh Fringe began back in 1947 when eight theatre groups decided to turn up uninvited to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival. Each year, more performers would turn up to perform on the ‘fringes’ of the main Festival, until the Fringe became a recognised festival in its own right. It is now a month-long extravaganza of performance, featuring over 2,400 different shows.
With literally thousands of people descending on the city during the month of August, it may prove difficult to find a place to stay if you leave it until the last minute. There are plenty of Edinburgh hotels to choose from, as well as hostels and B&Bs, but it’s a good idea to book in advance to make sure that you don’t end up paying more than you planned to.
Plan your itinerary
When there is so much to choose from, deciding which shows to go and see can be a daunting task. Fortunately, the official Edinburgh Fringe website features descriptions about all of the different shows and performances and it is usually updated long before August, so you can do some research before your visit. You can also pick up a Fringe Programme once you arrive at the Festival. It is worth bearing in mind that the performance venues are spread out across the city, so it’s a good idea to plan your route between shows if you know you’ve got a long way to go.
Visit the Royal Mile
The Royal Mile becomes a hive of activity during the Fringe, as this is where most of the performers spend their time between shows by doing some much-needed promotion. Expect to be approached by weird and wonderful people, with hands full of fliers, trying to convince you to come and see their various shows. There are also tons of street performers, from musicians and singers to living statues and magicians!
Go bargain hunting
The costs of seeing several shows per day can add up, so it’s definitely a good idea to check out the Fringe Half-Price Hut. Each day countless half-price tickets are released, which can make a huge impact on your spending! You may have to queue for a little while, but you’re pretty much guaranteed some great tickets. There are also hundreds of free shows which are part of the Free Fringe Festival.
Take some time to explore the city
A trip to the Fringe usually means a jam-packed schedule, but make sure you set aside an afternoon to explore Edinburgh. The city is full of iconic landmarks and attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Arthur’s Seat, all of which are worth a visit.