12 Top Tips for the Edinburgh Festival

Tips, Edinburgh Festival. Forth Road bridge

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of my favourite things, I try to go every August. There is so much variety, every type of entertainment is represented. There is literally something for everyone at the Fringe.

For example few years ago midway through a walking dead binge my friends and I ended up with a zombie themed edge to our shows. Complete with a interactive night evacuation during the zombie apocalypse and a undead themed stand up show. This year however we are feeling more more musical, I would love to see a big American gospel choir. With my boyfriend (two trips for me this year) however we are going 100% stand-up comedy.

As I start thinking about my next trip, I thought I would share some of my top tips to help you make the most your Edinburgh Festival trip

1. It might rain.

It’s Scotland, no one comes for the weather, so be prepared! Although I would advise a hood over a brolly, loads umbrellas on the busy Royal Mile in festival time is madness, someone could lose an eye. That said summer in Scotland comes with almost endless daylight, makes the evenings feel longer.

2. Take a multimedia approach to show planning.

For show planning, take a multi-pronged research approach. Get a official Fringe programme if you can. I love flicking through it. (You will find them all over Edinburgh).

Use the official website/Download the app. this has the advantage of a search function and allowing you to sort by date. There is nothing worse that finding a show that sounds amazing and then realising that it isn’t on during your visit.

Talk to people, if you find yourself chatting to other tourists or a people who have been before ask what shows they have seen. With that in mind if you see a great show, chat about it. The festival has so many acts fighting to be heard, send some social media love to those that deserve it and let the rest us know what’s hot this year.

Finally, have a scroll online and in newspapers, all the Scottish papers (Herald and Scotsmen) will write about shows both on their websites and in print. If you are on the bus when you get to Edinburgh you can also pick up a free metro for ideas.

3. Don’t plan too much- take a risk!

That said don’t plan too much, take a gamble on at least one show. Just take a walk up the Royal Mile, get flyered and grab sneak peaks of shows as they are performed on the street.

Or if sunny my preferred option is to grab a pint in a beer garden (Pleasance or Underbelly both have nice ones) and let the flyers come to you. Make sure you talk to the promoters as you collect your pile of leaflets, hearing about the show in their words is always more interesting. Then pick one that is about to start and go. Keep it really old school, no googling reviews. Who knows maybe you will happen on the next big thing and you can say you saw them first interesting basement of a small Edinburgh bar.

4. Embrace the diversity.

Embrace that whether you plan out every show or see something random, it may be a bit weird, not what you expected or just not your cup of tea. Alternatively it could be the funniest thing you have seen all year. That’s all part of the fun of the festival.

I have seen some not so good and just plain strange over the years like the comedian who conducted his whole performance via his laptop (he was holding it, not Skype-ing in). Or a play where a lady stood on stage running on the spot for half the show, my friend and I are still still trying to figure that one out. However, I have also seen amazing talent at the festival and comedians who made me cry with laughter. Last year my friend dragged me to Acapella which I thought I would hate and it was amazing. And remember the really bad ones make funnier stories anyway.

5. Variety Shows are fun.

Check out variety shows which host short segments of comedians or other acts that have their own shows. It is a great way to sample a bunch of things and you can discover acts that you want to see more of.

6. Know where you are going.

This might sound obvious but some venues have different names during the festival than the rest of the year- this is to keep the Edinburghers on their toes! So double check venue locations when booking. Some are a far hike from each other, so make sure you leave enough time. Always double check the name and venue number, and make sure you note it down. If you get lost ask, Scots are a friendly bunch.

7. Pace yourself.

Don’t book in a show every hour, enjoy Edinburgh.  Get a selection of shows planned but leave yourself time to soak it all in and grab a drink before the show.

8. Don’t forget to eat.

Leave time to enjoy the amazing eating options, there are tons and tons of restaurants. I will pop up some recommendations before August to give you some ideas- subscribe or follow me in twitter to keep updated.

Fun food fact about Edinburgh, if you go into a chip shop they will offer you ‘salt and sauce’ instead of ‘salt & vinegar’ for your chips. ‘Sauce’ is a Edinburgh condiment, a mix of vinegar and brown sauce that is unique to  the capital.

9. You don’t need to spend all your pennies to have a good time.

You don’t have to spend a lot. Since our student days a couple girlfriends and I have always mainly done Free Fringe Show. These are free to enter, you are just asked to make a donation when you leave. Make sure to get there early as the best ones fill up and you can’t book. If there is a free show with loads buzz that you really want to see, I would suggest planning it for your first day, this gives you another chance to go if there is a bigger queue than you anticipated.

Check out FreeFestival or FreeFringe. If you prefer a paper programme, pop into one the venues listed when you arrive and they will have 100s.

10. See some improv.

See some improvised comedy. My friends and I have a tradition of always going, I love it. If you find a great musical improvised comedy act, let me know, would love to see this!

11. Irn Bru!

Try some irn bru, ok not really Festival related but when in Scotland you must try our ‘other national drink.’ This bright orange fizzy pop is perhaps an acquired taste but a must my travelling friends. It is also amazing for a hangover!

12. My recommendations from last year

I haven’t planned what I am seeing this year yet, but last year I really liked the below.

  • Pickering’s Gin experience (tour of brewery and gin drinking!)
  • Men with Coconuts (improv)
  • Jason Byrne  (stand up comedy)
  • My other fav was an Acapella Variety but I can’t for the life of me remember the name.

If you make it to Edinburgh and see any good shows please get in touch. You can tweet me @eatcheesetravel or drop me an email.

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18 comments

  1. I’ve never heard of this festival but it sounds like fun! Fairs and festivals are one of my favorite things to do. Scotland is also at the top of my bucket list. Just another excuse to go! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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  2. We have a fringe festival in Vancouver too. I love that you get to see such a variety of performances. There is so much to choose from, I agree that it’s good to take a chance on some shows. You just might find a real gem:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve not yet been to the Fringe festival, but it sure sounds like a lot of fun, and high energy! Salt and sauce on chips sounds pretty good, as does Irn Bru! Good tip about Freefestival or Freefringe, I’ll definitely check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had been to Edinburgh but never been to the festival. Your tips are pretty useful. you are right it can rain anytime. It even rained when I was there. And i love to travel slow without too much planning.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the fringe festival! Soo many different acts, soo much to see! Travel is a bit of a pain getting there mind but i use park and ride on outskirts of Edinburgh and get bus into town!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have never heard of this festival but it must be an amazing experience. The salt and sauce food experience but be something unique. Would love to try the Irn Bru, especially to recover from a hangover.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Have heard a lot about Edinburgh Festival. So, great to see a guide like this. You must have experienced it many times to come up with such tips. I like the rain part. I think this only adds to the fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh you had me in stitches – try irn bru! I did that once and never again. Great guide on how for enjoy such a wonderful festival.

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  9. The first thing I did after the first couple of points was search about the festival – and it seems so much fun! I am sure your tips would be very helpful to people planning to attend it.

    Liked by 1 person

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