One month every year the city of Edinburgh is transformed for The Fringe Festival. Edinburgh’s quaint streets are filled with the hustle and bustle of crowds from across the globe. People travel thousands of miles to experience eclectic events from spoken word to cabaret.
Posters, bunting and street performers pop up on every corner. All the pubs and cafes are kitted out with festival memorabilia. Where ever you look there is something exciting to witness.
Live statues painted in gold wait to hear the clatter of coins falling in their pots before moving. Solo singers perform tirelessly to passerbys. Choirs belt out harmonies. And individuals in fancy dress litter the roads spreading joy.
Walking down The Mile (main Street through the old town in Edinburgh) can be somewhat overwhelming. People mob the road and leafleters thrust pieces of paper into your hands.
‘Come and see Joe’s stand up comedy, pay as you feel, ‘ one young lady sung to us.
‘Do you like cabaret? Only £12 a ticket,’ a jolly man chirped as he placed a leaflet in my palm.
With a map in one hand and wads of glossy paper flying out the other I was unsure where to begin. The best call of action was to sit down have some lunch and get a plan together.
I was lucky enough to be with my own local guide. My friend who I met in America while traveling had asked her family if I could stay with them. They kindly agreed and welcomed me into their lovely home in the centre of Edinburgh.
We went to Koyama a lovely Japanese restaurant and sifted through all the leaflets. Turned out most of them were for the wrong times. Nonetheless, we found a show that fit in perfectly.
Throughout the day we watched various stand up comedians, some better than others. You can opt to view the paid shows ranging from £10-£20 or go to the free performances and put a small contribution in the bucket at the end.
One that particularly sticks in my mind was a young man wearing a baseball cap. He began as most do joking about his life. Providing a few giggles here and there.
Then in a rapid change of events this fairly normal comedian proceeded to remove his denim jeans exposing a pair of tight bright red leggings. He began dancing around on stage pulling his t shirt off above his head. He was left with a tight tank top. Out of a plastic bag he revealed a packet of penguins biscuits. He read the jokes on the back, before demolishing the chocolate covered biscuit whole. The next few jokes were told through mouthfuls of the sugar coated goods. He devoured a good five chocolate bars before leaving the stage in a scurry (to be sick I can only presume).
Another comedian spoke of traveling in south America which I found rather amusing. He told stories of the struggle with learning Spanish and the funny folk he met along the way. This was relatable and made me chuckle.
Other pubs hosted live musicians. The city was alive all day and night with loads to see and do. The music was a nice change from the comedy.
The city of Edinburgh itself is stunning with old sand stone buildings made from local volcanic rock. The city hosts a fantastic castle which would can explore for £17.
And there is a spooky graveyard named Greyfriars. It has been in used since the 16th century. There are metal cages over some of the graves to stop grave robbers digging up old bodies. It is said to be the spookiest graveyard in the world. It certainly is magnificent with impressive tomb stones.
After seeing some of Edinburgh’s historic sites I went back to the festival and explored the book fair where signings and readings were taking place.
To finish off the day I tried a deep fried snickers bar (a typically Scottish dessert). It was naughty but nice.
Tip tips for attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival:
-There is no need to pre-plan. Simply turn up collect the leaflets, listen to what others are recommending and try out some shows. It is worth talking to leafleters to find out the premise of shows. Some of the free performances provide a flavour of different comedians, you can then chose which ones are worth paying for later.
-Watch your possessions. It is pretty busy during the Fringe Festival so be street wise and hold your bags close to you.
-If you fancy a break from the shows check out some of Edinburgh’s fascinating attractions such as the castle and graveyards.
-Pace your self. There is so much to see and do for the entirety of the day. It is a good idea to take breaks from all the shows, get coffee or dinner and then come back to the gigs.
-Getting there: from London I took the train. It was around four hours and the journey was lovely. Check out Virgin Trains for cheap deals in advance. You can also fly to Edinburgh. compare the prices.
-I spent one day at the festival, this was enough for me. However, I didn’t have time to explore the city fully. You may want to stay longer and dedicate one day to the festival and a couple of days for the city. I was eager to get onto the next stop visiting my pal in the highlands (watch out for my next post).
Does anyone have any other tips for visiting Edinburgh?