- If you haven’t been drop what you’re doing and get it booked in for 2018
I’d heard tell of the Edinburgh International Festival and its Siamese twin the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but hadn’t really understood what they were all about. If someone had described them to me I’m not sure I would have got the picture either; I think you just have to go and get involved. However, I will try and describe it here, in one sentence.
Imagine a beautiful city in which, for four weeks in August, shows and performances ooze from every nook and cranny creating an atmosphere of unrivaled creativity and fun.
Breaking this down, Edinburgh is a spectacular city, tucked south of the River Forth with a mountain in its midst and architecture from every conceivable period of building over the last 900 years. There were over 300 venues at this years Fringe ranging from garden sheds to some of Edinburgh’s largest concert halls. A lot of the venues are used by the university for the rest of the year meaning there are a lot of normally off limits corners to explore. In the uncertain times that we live in it is incredibly important to support and promote events that bring people and communities together; this, I think is what the fringe did best.
- Save up a few pennies
The Fringe is financially accessible but accommodation in Edinburgh is expensive; thankfully I was able to stay with a friend which really helped. Failing that there are excellent transport links in and into Edinburgh so I wouldn’t hesitate to look further afield (it’s only an hour on the train from Glasgow – another great city to visit) and catch and train or tram into the city. There are lots of free, non ticketed shows which are a great way to keep costs down but unless the show is truly rubbish you will feel obliged to give at least a few pounds. Many of the performers who do free shows have full time jobs and have saved their annual leave to come to the festival so they need whoops, applause and some cold hard cash.
- Spend those pennies wisely but plan for spontaneity
Semi organised fun is, in my mind, essential to get the best out of the festival. Get the app, get a map and allow time to wander rather than run between venues. Most shows will last around an hour but some venues are an hours walk apart. The half price hut is your best friend for some of the bigger name shows in large venues as well as some smaller paid shows. The tickets we got here meant we got to see some bigger names at a fantastic price.
Planned spontaneity sounds like a misnomer but part of the fun of the festival is going to a show you really know nothing about except that it is on at the right time in the right place. Each venue has its own box office so you can pop in last minute and get a ticket for the next show starting; this can have mixed results. Our planned spontaneity show received mixed reviews from the group…
“ that’s an hour of my life I won’t get back” Angie Turnbull, 2017
Although I have to say for me Geins Family Giftshop : Volume 3 offered a exactly what I was hoping to see; something bonkers where, even once over I wasn’t sure if I’d had a nice time or not.
- Take advantage of the great street food on offer
Edinburgh is a great city for eating and the festival showcases some of Edinburgh’s best street food eateries. Prices are reasonable and the area around St Georges square has a real festival atmosphere. Edinburgh also has great restaurants but it’s hard to create a festival atmosphere in a restaurant isn’t it?
- Take some time out away from the festival
In two days we saw 8 shows and while they were amazing and varied I did develop a degree of cultural overload meaning that I spent the third day pottering around some parts of Edinburgh I hadn’t had the chance to explore before; Leith walk and then Leith itself. After a warm welcome and a lovely breakfast at Word of Mouth Café just off Leith Walk I picked up the Water of Leith and followed it down to Leith. There I found a lovely harbour with many good looking café’s, restaurants and pubs. With the sun occasionally glinting off the water it was the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the festival. From previous visits I can also recommend a wander around Calton Hill and up to the Crags and Arthurs Seat. A city with a mountain within touching distance of the city centre is a city that will capture my heart time and time again.
Until next time Edinburgh!