If you’d have asked me what Edinburgh Fringe Festival was a few months ago, I’d probably answered with something like “it’s a big festival for comedians”. Turns out, that’s only partly true. It is a festival, with comedians, but not just funny people. It’s actually the world’s largest arts festival! Who knew?! Not me…
We’ve just got back from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the first time, so here are our tips for first time goers. These are the things we wish we knew before we got there, along with our top tips for Edinburgh.
Turns out I’m a Die Hard Planner
Yep, I’m a planner. Advice online differs wildly, from “free flowing” Fringe where you go into shows that take your fancy while you’re there, to the completely different meticulously planned itineraries for shows to go to, distance from the next show and how long the journey is from one venue to another. While I’m not as bad as that, I’m fairly close.
The thing is with Fringe, there are literally thousands of acts, there’s no way you’re going to be able to see them all, you won’t even scratch the surface, and I personally don’t want to sit through something and wish I had used my time differently. So my advice is to plan and pick your shows wisely.
Look for recommended acts and shows to see while at Edinburgh Fringe. A great place to look is the Guardian’s top 50 acts to see. I looked through that, picked what I wanted to see, and made them my target, but didn’t buy any tickets in advance…
The one mistake I did make is not pre-booking, and a piece of advice for yourself, if you’re like me and like to plan your Fringe, is make sure you buy tickets up front, as in days before you travel, and collect them from the many stations that are available for ticket printing. Recommended shows sell out super quick, throughout the month, so if there is anyone you really want to see, just book a ticket. You know then you’re definitely making it in, no hassle while you’re there, job done.
Pleasance has all the “big hitters”
We found that anyone who was performing within the Pleasance Courtyard, or in a “Pleasance Arena”, were the big ticket performers. While these might be names you recognise, these are the ones which are going to set you back. Most shows around the Fringe cost £5 to £10, with others being “pay what you feel”, where you pay the performer themselves at the end of the show as you exit the room. A Pleasance show will cost you in most cases, beyond that, upwards of £15. If you do your research, you can see upcoming acts for dirt cheap prices, and have a chance of saying hello after the show too.
Running around Edinburgh
You can make Fringe as busy or as relaxed as you like, that’s the beauty of it. I’m a busy Fringe person! Running from venue to venue, at the opposite side of Edinburgh, with 10 minutes to go until the show starts, is exciting! Most shows are an hour long, and if you have shows which are back to back, make sure you leave yourself with the time required to get from one venue to another. Most venues are within 10 – 15 minutes walking distance, but make sure you incorporate the crowds!
We ended up seeing some really good shows while we were there, here are our recommendations, purely based on what we actually saw:
- Trojan Horse – “Why should I continue to be tolerant, when the world has been so intolerant of me?” Trojan Horse was a local story that hit the national press, accusing ‘hardline’ Muslim teachers and governors of plotting extremism in Birmingham schools. Adapted from the real-life testimonies of those at the heart of the government inquiry, critically acclaimed theatre company LUNG (E15, The 56 and Chilcot) investigate what really happened. Trojan Horse is the story of a community torn apart by racial division, British Values and the culture of Prevent.
- Adam Rowe: Undeniable – What does it take to become undeniably good at what you do? Fresh from a sell-out UK tour; Liverpool Comedian of the Year winner and English Comedian of the Year nominee Adam Rowe, presents his hilarious new stand-up show about his working-class roots and the determination, arrogance, selfishness and sacrifices it takes to become undeniable. ‘True comic brilliance’ (Liverpool Echo). ‘Extremely strong routines’ (Fest). ‘Nothing short of prodigious’ (Skinny). ‘Narcissism, bullying and sausage rolls’ **** (List).
- Nerd Time’s a Charm (Tom Crosbie) – Some say Tom Crosbie’s nerdiness knows no bounds. Tom disagrees; his nerdiness does know bounds, it’s just that nobody has found the scale to measure it on yet. Tom’s third sell-out show sees him taking a jaunt into the unknown, with only his wit, cunning and surprising skills with a Rubik’s Cube to guide him. Does it count as showing off if you thoroughly impress people with a performance packed with talents that nobody has any business learning? If so, this nerd’s nerd is quite the show-off. His show is on. Come see it!
Buy your tickets before you go. Not only does it make things a little easier in terms of rushing around, but it means you definitely get to see what you want to.
Buses doesn’t offer change, so either have the exact change, or be prepared to lose a few pennies.
Plan your Fringe, don’t wing it. Read up on what’s good and recommended, then plan on when you’re going to see it.
There is a function on the Fringe website which allows you to see shows by time and date. Now, there are loads of shows, so it’s still going to need some time to scroll through what you might want to see, but it is a useful function. We were sat chilling with a coffee and wanted to see what was on in the next hour and found that really handy.
Be timely. Try to get to a show 10 minutes before it starts. There is no seat allocation, so it’s first in means best seats.
Most of the venues for the smaller acts were in small venues, so dress appropraitely! A dress or shorts, it gets hot very quickly!
Hopefully you guys find this useful! If you have seen any good shows then let us know in the comments, and if you have any questions get in touch!