For anyone who’s a fan of arts and culture the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a must-visit at least once in a lifetime. The 3-week long bonanza of theatre, performance, comedy, circus, music and dance celebrates the world’s up-and-coming artists. The event also showcases the magnificent city of Edinburgh, transforming it into one vibrant, buzzing stage during August. Read our guide to this amazing event…
Edinburgh – the city
Edinburgh is the second most-visited city in the UK after London and attracts tourists in droves all year round. But it’s in August when the elegant historic city comes into its own and takes over the world arts stage. Not only does the city host the Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, but it also welcomes the Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Edinburgh Book Festival, all in the same month.
Top tip – this year’s Festival takes place from 2nd to 27th August. Plan and book your visit well in advance to be sure of somewhere to stay.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival celebrates its 71st anniversary in 2018. It all began in 1947 when eight theatre companies turned up at the Edinburgh International Festival without an invitation. They put on their own shows on the fringe of the event and were so successful that gatecrashing became official and the alternative Festival was born.
At the landmark 70th anniversary last year, some 53,232 performers took part in the Festival in 3,398 shows at 380 venues.
Top tip – choose to see a variety of acts and performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to get a true flavour of this unique event.
Since its first years in the late 1940s, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has been a springboard for up-and-coming stars. Famous names such as Emma Thompson, Steve Coogan and Hugh Laurie all cut their teeth at the Festival and some of those who perform this year will go on to be international stars.
Top tip – try before you buy. Many artists offer a sneak preview of their performance giving you the chance to decide whether you want to attend the real thing.
With almost 4,000 shows, the programme contains just about any artistic performance in the book. From 1-person acts to stand-up comedy, from Shakespeare classics to avant garde plays, from circus tricks to dance, from what you’d expect to down-right weird… Take your pick because it’s all in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival programme!
Top tip – if there are performances you particularly want to see, book in advance to be sure of a seat.
The main venue for the Fringe is on one of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks: the Mound Precinct on the Royal Mile. Here you’ll find four stages hosting the largest events in the Festival as well as an arts and crafts market.
There are, however, lots of other venues dotted round the city. Performances take place in conventional places such as theatres and halls as well as in unusual corners including toilets or on the bus!
For street performers – one of the liveliest and most fun aspects of the Festival – head to West Parliament Square. Around 250 shows take place every day between 1 and 8pm. This year celebrates the 20th anniversary of Street Events so expect some surprises.
Top tip – pace yourself because this is a tiring event. Not only are there literally hundreds of performances, they’re spaced throughout the city so expect to walk a lot.
You can buy your tickets online via the official Edinburgh Fringe Festival site or in person at the Fringe Box Office on 180 High Street. The venue doubles as a shop selling Fringe merchandise so you can get the perfect event souvenir too.
Top tip – check out the Half-Price Hut on the Mound for thousands of half-price tickets sold for events on the same day.
Where to stay for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Use your visit to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to take in the very best of everything Scotland offers. Stay in a castle and enjoy magnificent views of glorious Scottish scenery from the comfort of your own Great Hall, vaulted dining room and four-poster beds set in 20 acres of private grounds. With great golfing on the doorstep and the city of Edinburgh just a short drive away, this luxury 5-star Castle Tower brings you the best of all Scottish worlds. Book your perfect pad now.
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