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Edinburgh Fringe Guide

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The insiders’ guide to Edinburgh Fringe

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, home to comedy, theatre, music, variety, dance, and everything in between!

During August, Scotland’s capital plays host to over 3,300 shows in more than 300 venues. It’s bewildering knowing where to start, so we asked some seasoned fans (and a few comics) for their top tips.

What to see

Be realistic – you are never going to see everything, but planning a few ‘must-see’ shows, then leaving the rest to fate, is a great idea:

Start your day at the Half Price Hut

  1. for discounted tickets – tickets are released at 10am for shows that day.
  2. Grab a map and work out which shows are near each other. This cuts down your walking time and means you won’t miss the start of a show, or have to sneak out of another to head across town.
  3. Don’t rely on the main Fringe brochure; get hold of the Free Fringe Guide from PBH and the Free Festival Guide from Laughing Horse too.
  4. Run the gauntlet of flyering teams on the Royal Mile. Among the handfuls of recycling, you’ll find a few hidden gems.

Catch the buzz

Still not sure who to watch? Hang out at the Pleasance Courtyard or Pleasance Dome and eavesdrop. Apart from stealing sneaky selfies with big-name comics, you’ll pick up the buzz on shows other acts are talking about. Plus, there’s beer and coffee till the small hours. Perfect.

The best places to refuel

If you’re relying on coffee to power through, it needs to be the good stuff. Black Medicine Coffee lives up to its name, and doubles up as a venue so you won’t have far to walk to your next show. Or drop in at The Elephant House where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter.

Treat yourself to a laid-back meal at Spoon, or tuck into bistro food at Chez Jules; open late and away from the rabble, it’s a great place to take stock before heading back in to the fray. Tight on time and budget? You can’t beat Mosque Kitchen for a no-frills Indian buffet under a fiver.

Get savvy on social media

  • Follow your favourite comics on Twitter – you’ll be the first to hear about extra shows or discount deals, and many recommend their top picks you might enjoy too.
  • Download the Fringe app (iTunes and Android) to find out about shows starting near you, buy tickets and plot your route using the interactive maps.
  • Read the latest reviews and discover any up-and-coming performers. Try Chortle, the BBC New Comedy Award and The Scotsman.

Pack properly

It rains in Edinburgh. A lot. And a brolly won’t cut it; take a waterproof jacket you can stuff in your bag when the sun makes a rare appearance. Wear layers too – some venues get pretty warm and stuffy so avoid thick jumpers. Comfy shoes are also essential, as you’ll be doing a LOT of walking. Some hardened Fringe-goers even pack flip-flops because bare feet dry out much faster!

If you need a break from the chaos, check out what else you can do in Edinburgh for free. And when you’ve finally had your Fringe fix, we’ll bring you home again in comfort on our sleeper service. 

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