The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the one of the biggest arts festivals in the world, and with this year being the 70th anniversary it’s sure to be the biggest yet!
Attending the Edinburgh Fringe may seem like a daunting undertaking, so we’ve compiled some tips and tricks to make your Fringe experience the best it can be!
These big red programmes are everywhere and can help you navigate the thousands of performances being held over the month of August. If that sounds a little…overwhelming, take advantage of some resources that can help narrow down your choices.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society (where the main box office and shop is located) can help you navigate your experience over Fringe.
While there is no mobile ticket option, tickets can be collected all over the city.
Those looking for a deal can check out the Virgin Money Half-Price Hut at The Mound Precinct (Venue 55) for hundreds of discounted tickets.
If you are planning to see free or PWYW shows, carry some change or small bills. These shows typically have a bucket at the end where you can toss in some cash. “I only have card” are the four saddest words for these performers to hear, so be sure you’re ready to show your appreciation!
Some tips on scheduling shows:
- When planning your shows, pay attention to the venue NUMBER, more so than the venue name. There are many venues around town listed by production company (Underbelly, Assembly, Laughing Horse, etc.) but the venues themselves are nowhere near each other. The venue number is listed clearly in the programme, on the Fringe App and usually on the venue itself. The last thing you want is to be at the Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre when you should be at the Gilded Balloon Teviot!
- Keep in mind that, unless you are a teleporter, you will not be able to get from a show that ends at 7 in one venue to a show that starts at 7 in another. Some venues do not accept latecomers, so plan accordingly.
- Be sure to download the Fringe App, and get the Fringe Programme in your pocket! The Fringe App also lets you purchase tickets, add shows to a calendar and find upcoming shows near you!
Food and Drink
While Edinburgh does have lots of great places to sit down and grab a bite, you should expect long waits and high prices. Instead, beat the crowds by dining al fresco in one of Edinburgh’s many beautiful green spaces. There are many takeaway places in Edinburgh that’ll wrap you up something delicious for under £10.
Here are some of our top picks:
- Italian Mound (fresh sandwiches & good coffee), 15 Bank St., Old Town
- Burrito & Shake (huge burritos, open late), 107 South Bridge, Old Town
- Slice (giant slices of pizza), 49 Forrest Rd., University
- Mosque Kitchen (Indian buffet/takeaway), 31-33 Nicolson Square, Southside
- Oink (roast pork sandwiches), 34 Victoria St., 82 Canongate, 38 Hanover St.
- Baked Potato Shop, 56 Cockburn St., Old Town
- BRGR (burgers), 4-6 Nicolson St., Southbridge
- Wings (chicken wings) 5-7 Old Fishmarket Close, Old Town
The Fringe website also has a list of cheap, tasty food as recommended by past Fringe-goers.
Save your Uber fare and invest in some good walking shoes and a raincoat. While taxis and Ubers are aplenty, Edinburgh isn’t really made for driving at the best of times and Fringe just means more traffic and higher fares. In short…you’d be better off walking.
If you do need to get across town, the buses are good, cheap and have free wifi!
Some tips for getting around Edinburgh:
- Download a map of Edinburgh to your phone for easy reference without a need for wifi or cell reception. Maps.ME is a great free app that will give you directions that include all the little alleyways and closes that the locals use in lieu of the congested main roads.
- If possible, when planning to see shows, try to check out one area of the city at a time. And give yourself plenty of time to get to the next show, even if your map tells you it’ll only be a five-minute walk.
- Use the Fringe App’s “nearby” feature to find a show near you. Part of the Fringe Philosophy is trying new things; so don’t be afraid to take a chance on something just because it’s close by!
Edinburgh is crowded at the best of times, but during Fringe safety plays a big part in your enjoyment of the festival.
Some tips on staying safe:
- As with any tourist city, keep valuables close to your body and carry a sensible amount of cash.
- Wear sensible shoes! Edinburgh’s streets are uneven and sometimes slick with rain. Function beats out fashion here- so dress smart!
- Leave the umbrella at home. This may not seem like a safety issue until you’ve been bludgeoned with a rogue umbrella that’s been blown out of someone’s hand! Umbrellas also cause crowd congestion and make it difficult to maneuver in small spaces. Wear a raincoat instead.
- If you are in need of medical attention, dial 111 for free medial advice. NHS Lothian also offers free medical attention for tourists during Fringe.
If you find yourself in need of a place to stay during Fringe, consider one of our hostels. Scotland’s Top Hostels has three hostels in Edinburgh- right in the center of all the action! Hostels are much more affordable than hotels and AirBnBs and see a higher rate of cancellation, so before you give up on finding a place to crash, give us a call!
After the Fringe
Ready to trade in the insanity of festival life for a little peace, quiet and serenity? Well, hop on a tour with our award-winning tour company MacBackpackers. We offer 3-, 5-, and 7-day tours around the Scottish Highlands. After planning everything for Fringe, we’ll do all the work. All you have to do is hop on the bus and say goodbye to the Fringe!
Written by – Jacki Hope