Each August Edinburgh is transformed for the annual Fringe Festival – the month-long event is famous around the world for promoting the arts in all its forms.
From comedy to theatre, musicals, improv, dance, puppetry, and literally everything in between, there are thousands of shows to choose from over the course of the month, and now is the perfect time to get planning – if you’re thinking of trying the Edinburgh Fringe, here’s all you need to know before you go.
Getting to Edinburgh
There’s a few different ways you can get to Edinburgh and now is a great time to book before the last seats on the train are taken and the flight prices go up. The East Coast Mainline from London takes you right along the coast, offering some beautiful views along the way. If you’re flying in, Edinburgh Airport is just a short distance from the city centre and easy to get to by taxi, tram or bus.
A word of caution if you decide to drive: the centre of Edinburgh is notoriously difficult to drive through during the festival when many of the major streets are closed to traffic – parking can be a hassle and the roads are often slow, making it an inconvenient rather than convenient way to travel through the city. Check to make sure there’s parking options nearby your accommodation to save any unnecessary hassle.
Getting around Edinburgh
One of the easiest ways to get around Edinburgh during the festival is on foot – the compact city centre is easy to navigate if you’re prepared to be on your feet, and much of the festival takes place in the heart of the city in a very small grid.
Edinburgh’s bus system – Lothian Buses – has an excellent online travel planner and app you can use to plan your journey if you’re staying further away, and the city’s tram system is also a great link between Princes Street, the West End and the Airport.
Bicycle rickshaws and taxis are another easy option and can help you quickly get from A to B if you’re tight on time or need a break from all the walking.
Planning your shows & buying tickets
Now the fun part! The Edinburgh Fringe Programme is your essential source during the fringe. Inside there are listings of every show playing and from the website you can save a list of favourites and buy tickets before you arrive. Many of the most popular shows sell out in advance, so if there is something you really want to see it’s always good to book tickets before you go – if you’re open to seeing anything, initiatives like the half price hut will help you find discounted tickets to shows each day. The website also has a useful venue map so you can get an idea of how far you will need to travel between venues if you’re booking shows back to back.
Over the course of the festival there are a handful of other great events on as well – the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Book Festival and Edinburgh Military Tattoo all run in August and are a highlight of the celebrations, so be sure to check if there are any shows you’d like to see from there as well. These events tend to sell out earlier than the Fringe, so now is the time to book.
Finding the right accommodation
Hotels book up quickly in Edinburgh during the month of August and can be pricey – if you want to stay in the centre of the city be prepared to spend more or stay further out if you want a hotel that’s more affordable.
Hotel booking sites like Booking.com and Lastminute.com are a great place to start to see what’s available in the city’s hotels. You can find comprehensive listings of guest houses and B&Bs from the Visit Scotland website, along with details about how to book.
Airbnb is another excellent option if you need somewhere to stay – many people offer up spare bedrooms or will rent their entire flat out over the course of the festival, and this is a great way to stay in the heart of the city without breaking the bank. There are more than 1000 listings on Airbnb’s Fringe section of the website, so if you’re looking for an alternative to the standard hotel room there’s no shortage of options.
Have you ever been to the Edinburgh fringe? Share your top planning tips with us in the comments below!