Edinburgh Fringe Festival has always been at the top of our bucket list and this summer we finally managed to cross it off. We spent four days in the Scottish capital and vow to be back for more.
Our trip to Scotland was booked fairly last-minute and with our first return home for 18 months on our mind we had no plans at all for our time in Edinburgh. In retrospect this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We had little expectation, a completely open schedule and, as ever, had no choice but to throw ourselves in at the deep end.
So we thought we’d compile a short list of things we learnt from our first experience at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Obviously we don’t claim to be experts on the city or comedy in general but, if like us, you find yourself aimlessly wandering the cobbled streets of Edinburgh during August, then here’s a few pointers to set you on your way!
Be prepared for all weathers
This goes for any trip to Edinburgh! We were lucky to be blessed with blue skies and temperatures in the 20s which is incredibly rare for consecutive days.
Leave time for sightseeing if you’re new to the city
Don’t pack your schedule with Fringe shows, however tempting it may be. If you haven’t been to Edinburgh before you’ll be itching to explore. There’s just too many tiny cobbled streets to get lost down!
Make the most of the free shows (but be prepared for the worst)
We didn’t practice what we preach here and it’s one thing we will be doing differently when we inevitably revisit the Fringe. There’s so much free comedy and shows on offer all over the city but we were too worried that they would make awkward viewing that we didn’t go to any. Big mistake! Take the plunge and you might find a hidden gem.
Take all the flyers that are forced upon you
Walking the streets of Edinburgh during August is like an obstacle course of flyers and comedians trying to convince you to come along to their show. But rather than avoiding them like the plague, take a few and make up your mind later. They’ll make a good memento of your visit if nothing else and failing that just chuck ’em in the recycling, everyone’s happy!
Every show is rated 5 * in one way or another
On a side note to the impassable sea of flyers, you’ll constantly be told that the show in question is 5 *. It’s hard to know exactly what this means and where the reviews have come from but like everything else during Fringe it adds to that sense of spontaneity, take the plunge and find out for yourself!
Leave the main streets for a breather
The hustle and bustle of Princes Street and The Royal Mile can become unbearable. Take a wander down side streets and into one the cities many parks for a breather and some relief from the crowds. You never know what else you might discover…
Head to the city parks
The thing about Fringe festival, unlike other city festivals is that there doesn’t seem to be any containment area. You can wander for what seems like miles from the city centre and stumble across even more venues and events. Make the trip out to the George Square Gardens for Assembly where there’s plenty more comedy, food and drink!
Don’t make too many plans
This one came easy to us lazy planners. The best thing about Fringe is the ability to be spontaneous. To schedule last-minute drinks with visiting friends, to pop into a show that takes your fancy or simply having the time to sit back with a coffee and soak up the atmosphere!
Branch out from comedy
There’s so many things going on in Edinburgh in August. From the Edinburgh Book Festival to the Edinburgh International Festival to the myriad of plays and alternative entertainment pieces showing at the Fringe. Get out of your comfort zone and experience something new.
Book in advance for accommodation and your favourite acts
Edinburgh is obviously packed throughout August so you are going to have to think ahead for some aspects of your trip. If you want accommodation bang in the city centre book well ahead. We found a gem of an Air Bnb a 20 minute bus ride from the city which saved us a lot of money and ended up being really convenient.
If you’re planning on seeing any big acts at Fringe then check which dates they are playing (comic heavyweights only tend to do a few shows) and book in advance. For acts showing for the whole festival you are usually alright booking on the day. Free ticketed events are also worth booking ahead.
Store your bags for £2 a day
Wandering around a cobblestone city is hard work, if like us you are dragging your suitcases along with you. Make the most of the cheap luggage storage available at the National Gallery which has big lockers for only £2 day and is located right in the city centre!
Head to the Pleasance Courtyard in the evening
This ended up being one of our favourite ways to while away an Edinburgh evening. The Pleasance is one of the main Fringe hubs and is packed with venues showing the best comedy the festival has to offer. If you’re undecided on how to spend your evening, mull it over a pint in the courtyard and have a chat with the leaflet-ers about the night’s line-up.