Edinburgh is a sleepy little capital most of the time, content to languish in its Gothic surroundings and austere atmosphere, not needing to be anything other than the striking, beautiful city it is. But that all changes when August rolls around.
For August in Edinburgh is the festival month, and not just any festival; we’re talking the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the single biggest arts gathering on planet earth. Spanning the entire month and consisting of 50,000-plus performances of various creative endeavors, the Fringe (as it’s also known) is undoubtedly one of the most thrilling experiences you can have in the city, and more than worthy of a top spot on your bucket list. It’s a loud, colorful, brazen and unpredictable festival which is open to anyone and anything; there are no restrictions or selection process, meaning any troupe or individual can put on a performance. There’s theater, dance, comedy, music, opera, poetry, children’s shows, circus acts and everything in between for you to choose from.
Hop over to BUCKiTDREAM to see if anyone else has experienced the magical atmosphere of the Fringe in full swing, then keep your BUCKiTDREAM planner by your side as we show you how to do the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in serious style!
Find Somewhere to Crash Though your festival days may be filled with seemingly endless summer fun, there will, unfortunately, come a time when you need to recharge. Securing accommodation during the Fringe can be a bit of a logistical nightmare. Edinburgh’s standard population is just under 500,000; during the festival, this is rumored to double (though no one’s actually checked the numbers on this). Prices reflect the popularity of the festival, with hotels and apartment costs skyrocketing during the Fringe season.
As you plan your festival visit, the best thing to do is get in as early as possible with your accommodation. On the cheaper side of things, vacant student accommodation and lucky Airbnb are the way to go. In the middle ground, Airbnb and hotels come out on top, whereas apartments situated on the prime real estate of the Royal Mile are the priciest, but most stylish option. If you’re heading to Edinburgh with a group of friends, these classy apartments can actually be quite cost-effective, running you in and around $100 a night per person.
Get into the Fringe The first and smartest thing to do is grab yourself a festival planner guide, as it will become your bible throughout your stay. If you can skim what’s on beforehand, and have a vague idea about what you might like to catch, all the better.
Essentially, there are two ways to do the Fringe. Plan ahead and secure early bird tickets to all the shows you definitely don’t want to miss, or go with the flow and see which kind of performances you wander in to. Both can be equally rewarding in their own ways; it all depends on what kind of Fringe experience you want to have!
With over 50,000 performances, the prices vary wildly. Some are free, or at least Pay What You Can/Pay What You Think It’s Worth. While this might seem like a lesser quality option, don’t dismiss it outright; often, putting on a free show can be the most viable way for performers to tackle the Fringe, and there are some hidden gems to uncover in all the madness.
Student and amateur shows are in and around $10, with the standard cost for a festival show in any genre landing at around $15. Anything above $20 should be of serious quality, while the biggest shows in the festival, taking place in auditoriums with high production values, will end up costing you up to $60 per ticket.
So, in other words, it’s completely viable for a whole festival experience to cost you virtually nothing, while still taking in and supporting the up-and-comers in music, comedy, dance, and theater. Some of the biggest names in the business have caught their break at Edinburgh, and most return at some point in their careers, putting on smaller and more intimate shows, sometimes completely out of the blue.
Take in the Atmosphere The Royal Mile is Edinburgh’s ancient thoroughfare, and it still bustles with life today. It’s also the main drag of the festival; take a walk down the Mile on any given day in August and you’ll find the atmosphere infectious. There are restaurants, bars, street performers a-plenty, and a wonderful sense of fun. Walking slowly down the mile with no real schedule for the day can be one of Edinburgh’s (and the Fringe’s) greatest pleasures. So, whatever you’re into, be it stand-up comedy, cutting edge theatre, contemporary dance or up-and-coming musicians, you can track it down in the midst of the Fringe.
The Fringe Festival shows a wonderful side of a beautiful city, but it’s not all that Edinburgh has to offer. Check out The Gothic Splendor of Edinburgh and Burns Night: What Exactly Is Haggis and Should You Try It In a Skirt? to get a sense of what else on offer in the Scottish capital, then start getting excited for your dream trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!