It’s a festival known for making stars—since 1947 this has been where so many of Britain’s great comedians first tested out their jokes; the ones who got the biggest laughs are the ones we now see hosting all the awards nights on TV.
But don’t get the wrong idea that The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is some kind of a talent show—it’s not. It may be open for anyone to put on a performance (there is no curating jury selection like there is in the International Festival) and shows here may be a little strange, unusual, and unexpected, but they are always entertaining and they’re always well attended.
Running during August each year, at the same time as the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Art Festival, the Fringe packs over 40,000 performances of 2,500 shows into 250 venues across the city. If you’re looking for a quiet holiday, August is not the month to be in Edinburgh.
Street theatre, cabaret, dance, song, comedy, drama, and first-time performers hoping for fame and fortune will turn up in every corner of the city and from all over the world for this, the biggest festival in the world. This year the festival kicks off on August 2nd, running through to August 26th and features performers from over 60 different countries.
While festival time in Edinburgh is doubtless the most expensive time to visit the city (expect hotel and attraction prices to be jacked up accordingly), the wonderful thing about the Fringe is that the tickets are not only affordable, but many performances are even free. Check out the The Edinburgh Festival Fringe website to download the full schedule and event details.
A couple of tips for making your Fringe money really stretch include keeping an eye on the local newspapers for coupons for half-price tickets to shows or heading to the Virgin Money Half Price Hut at the Mound Precinct where you’ll find discounted tickets for the day’s shows (those that haven’t already sold out). The performers themselves can also be found out and about handing out flyers and drumming up an audience for their show—smile sweetly and they might give you free tickets if they need to fill the seats to impress somebody like an agent.
Even if you don’t have the budget to check out the most popular shows, the atmosphere in the city at this time is unbeatable - head for The Pleasance Courtyard, Underbelly Pasture, or Assembly’s Lane Bar and soak up the buzz around town. Virgin Money will also be hosting a number of free events and show previews special stages on Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile and the Mound Precinct.
- Philippa B.