It can also be pretty overwhelming if you're not quite sure where to go or what to see, and sometimes it feels like too much of a headache to think about. To help, I wrote a fringe do's and don't's post a few years ago, and I thought I'd update it for 2015.
Here's my top ten tips for surviving this year's festivals...
|The Royal Mile, photo by Chris Scott|
Yes, it's FULL OF TOURISTS. And yes, you will want to kill them for suddenly stopping in front of you, and bashing you with their massive backpack. But it's also packed full of (free!) street performances from circus types to living statues to pop up musical theatre. You are almost guaranteed to see someone swallowing a sword, and sometimes you'll find a flyerer with some free tickets to give away. The Royal Mile is also lined with pubs, so you can escape from the masses if it all gets too much!
2. Read reviews
The List's top-rated page is REALLY useful, as they aggregate all of the main reviewers, so you can easily spot who is rising to the top. Take reviews with a pinch of salt though, and don't let them put you off something you like the look or sound of - a quick look at FringePig (a site that reviews the reviewers) shows you they aren't all to be trusted!
3. Be prepared to see terrible things
The fringe isn't the fringe unless you've cringed the entire way through a one star show. It's always good to take a chance on someone or something you haven't heard of before - they might be the next big thing! And if they are awful, then it probably wasn't expensive, and you'll have a good fringe horror story for the pub.
4. Stay out late!
During the festival Edinburgh's partying hours extend until 5am, and there's loads of shows on to keep you going until the very, very small hours. Late n Live is Gilded Balloon's infamous original late night show and it's just so much fun! It starts at 1am and the line up changes each night. Underbelly have their own party night, Spank, which starts at midnight in the Cowgate.
|Hendrick's Emporium of Sensorial Submersion|
It's fun to hang out in the festival beer gardens, but sometimes the crowds get too much! Luckily there's a secret spot for curious types. This year Hendrick's (of the excellent, cucumber-infused gin) have taken over an empty building on 91 George Street, packing it with curious oddities, synaesthetic diversions, and a mysterious and scientific trip through the world of gin. You can either chill out in their bar (which feels like you've snuck into an eccentric gentleman's townhouse), or book into their Emporium of Sensorial Submersion - a two hour experience of cocktails, peculiar performances, sound and taste!
6. Visit the Book Festival
I love love love the Book Festival. It's held in the most gorgeous garden in Edinburgh, is the most perfect place to be on a sunny afternoon, and they have millions of really excellent authors each year. For the last few years they've also been running Jura Unbound, a free and super sociable event with world-play, music, drinks and surprises. This runs every evening from 16 - 31 August at 9pm, and each night promises something different.
7. Prepare for terrible weather
If you assume that it's going to rain constantly, it means you'll never be disappointed and you'll be SO DELIGHTED if the sun actually does come out. That's how Scots think, and it makes life so much easier. Even if it's sunny and bright in the morning, that doesn't mean it won't thunderstorm later that day. Keep a raincoat or something with a hood handy at all times, and avoid umbrellas - Scotland is windy and you'll poke someone's eye out on the Royal Mile!
8. Eat a good breakfast
If you're spending your day running between shows, it's hard to find the time to eat something for dinner that isn't just a burger! Instead, breakfast like a king, and carb load in the morning to keep you going. I've already written about my favourite Edinburgh breakfasts - featuring the best poached eggs in town.
9. Escape to Leith!
Yeah, it's the world's biggest arts festival, and yeah yeah, culture. Sometimes you need a break, and Leith is an easy place to escape to, just jump on a bus for twenty minutes and head for the Shore. I'm biased, cause this is my neck of the woods, but the Shore is lovely. There's a big park, a woodland walk along the Water of Leith, nice cafes and restaurants and bars. Plus, even on a sunny Friday, it's still going to be millions of times quieter than George Square.
10. Remember the fireworks
Marking the end of the Edinburgh International Festival, the annual fireworks concert combines the playing of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with a display specially choreographed to the music. The concert is held in Princes St Gardens, but you can get a great view from most places in town.
Have fun, and remember that sleep's for September!