The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a testament to not getting disheartened when things don’t go your way. In 1947 a number of groups arrived in the Scottish capital hoping to play the newly founded Edinburgh International Festival but were refused entry. So they did what any creative worth their salt would do, set up next door and have their own fringe event. And so, what was soon to become an iconic festival was born and 70 years later their defiance is still being celebrated with the largest arts festival in the world, one where, in the spirit of those originators no one is turned away.
Like any large, multi-discipline, artist community on the move, Edinburgh fringe is best tackled with a bit of advance planning already under your logistical belt. Also for the best experience remember variety is indeed the spice of life so be prepared to step outside your comfort zone and take in something new. Why stick to just theatre when you could be watching breaking new stand-ups, why gravitate heavily towards the music events when you could be part of one on one speed dating performance art! Travelling to Edinburgh fringe is easy, it’s a capital city after all but when you get there you will find that the population of the city more than doubles during the Festival so be prepared. Obviously the sensible thing to do is book accommodation well in advance, but for the latecomer there are still a few options. There are plenty of easily found websites which deal with late accommodation, Festival Beds is always a good place to start but remember the later you leave things the more costly it will. One cheaper option is to rent student accommodation, the University of Edinburgh offers en suite Halls of Residence twin rooms at the lower end of the scale. If you treat the festival like a cultural holiday rather than just another arts event then places such as City Bothy and The Knight Residence offer rates comparable to a holiday abroad, everything from city centre funky flats to sumptuous hotels to compact and bijou one-bedroom apartments. Those on a budget can always opt for Airbnb for that “just crashing with friends” vibe. Other things to consider include…. No rigid plans on any given day then swing by the half-price hut to see what tickets are going cheap, or which shows offer 2 for 1 or even free entry. Get a map or an App or even a tour guide, the event is big and sprawling and the Fringe can be found everywhere from side streets to cafes, basement pop up stages to pub back rooms as well as the bigger theatres and venues. Get street smart and know where you are going. Set your watch, many shows won’t admit latecomers. Dress wisely…yes it may be August, but this is also Scotland, prepare for rain and a lot of walking, remember there is no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes. Pace yourself…it’s an adventure not a race. Open your mind, keep your sense of humour, and forget crowd rage it’s all about joyous festival fever. More importantly …have fun!