Once a year, for three weeks every August, the Scottish capital of Edinburgh plays host to the largest arts festival in the world: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Award-winning theatre productions, ground breaking stand-up comedy, dance and circus acts are just some of the performances you can expect to see during your time at The Fringe, and with more than 50,000 performances spread across more than 300 venues, you would be forgiven for not knowing where to begin. We asked some festival veterans and Edinburgh locals to share their top tips for somebody visiting The Fringe for the first time. Take their advice on board and your trip to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is sure to be one to remember.
Step out of your comfort zone
“Be spontaneous! There's so much to see at The Fringe that it can be difficult to know where to start. Don't just stick to what you know; take a chance and try a few smaller shows (which can often be free) and you may just stumble upon a few gems or even get to see an up-and-coming star before they get famous.”
Darren from Edinburgh247.com
Use downtime to plan ahead
“Don’t be intimidated by the size of the programme; take some time to look through the brochure in one of the festival hubs. Assembly Festival's George Square Gardens is a perfect haven from the crowds of the Royal Mile and will be open to the public daily from 10am.“
Emma Fyvie from venue operator Assembly
Prepare for all eventualities
"Pack clothes for all weather. We experience every season during the Fringe Festival and sometimes all in one day. You'll be walking a lot during the Fringe; wear comfy shoes and leave plenty time in-between shows to traverse the crowds. If you're in a rush, don't go down the Royal Mile, the endless array of street performers and people handing out flyers will be too distracting!"
Gary – Edinburgh local. Find more local knowledge on his blog Edinblogger
Burn the midnight oil
“Stay up to the wee hours. There’s always something amazing happening right into the night, whether it’s crowd-surfing comedians at Late’n’Live, 8-bit mischief with the Mac Twins: PLAY or celebrity sing-alongs with Friday I’m In Love. There are great things happening everywhere you look at the festival”.
Scott from festival venue Gilded Balloon. Find information on all their shows here
Beat the ticket queues
“Don’t buy tickets from the Edinburgh Fringe Box Office on the Royal Mile – buy them from the venues instead. The convenience of being able to buy tickets for any Edinburgh Fringe show at the box office is more than outweighed by the huge queues. Box offices at venues, however, tend to be quick and convenient, and you can usually get a ticket on the door just before a show begins.”
Chris Neville-Smith – theatre blogger, Fringe veteran and editor of here
Be sociable and reap the rewards
“Get organised – but not too organised. Fringe has so many different shows that it's difficult to know where to start. Sometimes it’s best to plan ahead so you don’t miss your favourites but take at least one night to just walk through the festival and see something on a whim. Also, talk to people! In August, Edinburgh becomes home to the most interesting people in the world. Often the people you’re sitting next to are the artists behind some of the coolest work at the festival so it’s worth having a chat!”
Henry from festival venue Bedlam Fringe
Embrace the royal mile madness
“If you are new to the festival you have to walk down the Royal Mile at least once. It’s an amazing, crazy arts marketplace full of incredible street performance and hundreds of acts dressed in costume selling their shows. It’s unbelievable, vibrant and something you have to experience to get a feel for how big and diverse the festival is. Take a punt on a show, whether it's on the paid Fringe or the free Fringe. You will see the good, the bad and the downright unbelievable – but you won’t regret any of it.”
Sophie Pelham – actress and comedian with five successful Edinburgh shows under her belt. More information here
Avoid the royal mile madness
"If you're looking to gouge your eyes out, then head to the Royal Mile. It is the place to be for smug acapella groups and body-painted thesps practicing their most intrusive flyering techniques. I once saw a group of teenage girls putting on a show called 'Oliver Twist Set in Nazi Germany'. We're against Arts funding cuts though, right? Hello? Also, don't go to Brew Lab (I'm only saying that because I like the coffee there, but the queue is always too long). The top of Arthur's Seat at sunset (if it's not raining) is the best place to be to get away from it all (see tip no.1)."
Annie McGrath – comedy writer, actor and stand-up comedian and one half of double-act, Twins, with Jack Barry. They return to the Fringe this year with a brand new show ‘Twins: Pret A Comedy' and Annie will also be doing a work-in progress stand-up show with Nico Tatarowicz: ‘Annie McGrath and Nico Tatarowicz #Pray4Annie&Nico’.
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