Rookie Mistakes at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

We’ve just visited Edinburgh, Scotland for the worlds largest arts festival - the Edinburgh Fringe. It is an amazing experience for all ages. For almost the entire month of August, the city comes alive with thousands of theatre, music, and dance productions. There are art exhibitions and film showings. There are sub-festivals to the main event. The Royal Military Tattoo even overlaps with Fringe.

schedule of shows

As #edfringe rookies, we made a few mistakes:

Two days is NOT enough time for your first Fringe. It might not be enough time for any Edinburgh Fringe, actually. It takes some time to get a feel for how the festival works and to understand the distribution of venues across the city. Two days might allow you to be very go-with-the-flow or very structured with your time, but it won’t let you be both.

Standing in line is both required and optional. We made the mistake of standing in the official Fringe ticket line for a few minutes before we learned that most venues sell tickets to their shows at their own box offices. That said, there are queues everywhere - to enter the venues, to visit the toilets, to use an ATM, etc. - that if standing in line is uncomfortable for you, well, I don’t really know what to suggest but at least you know that there are lines.

Be deliberate in your lodging location. Confession time: we did not come to Edinburgh for the Fringe. We came because we were going to be in Dublin and then we were going to be in London and we had a car to transport between them, so Edinburgh was chosen as a waypoint. We chose our lodging - an apartment rented through Airbnb - based on the apartment’s interior and price, not it’s location. Turns out we had a thirty-minute walk each morning to the Old Town area where the main Fringe activities occur. Two days of that was fine; more may have become tedious. A spot closer to the center may be better, although I can’t say for sure. I would like to try that idea out someday.

Get your cash early in the day. Those bank machines run dry by late afternoon.

sign post

Of these, the biggest mistake is staying only two days in Edinburgh. The city has loads of attractions all year round, and then during Fringe there are other very cool concurrent events. I could probably do this for a week with the family. It was such a joy to meet actors on the Royal Mile inviting passers-by to see their show that day, and then see them perform their creation. We saw three shows - two theatre, one dance/acrobatics - and they were all written by the performers. They were all worth our time. Sonics in Toren was mesmerizing. The dancers were so strong and impressive. The story, while completely wordless, drew you in. The entire show was just lovely. Also, if you ever get a chance to see Flossy and Boo's Curiosity Shop, take it. It's silly and charming. They sing funny songs, and frankly, I think their act would make a good TV show.

I'm still so struck by what a thing they all have done - turning their visions to reality and sharing it with others! Amazing stuff. I must come back.

posters on a wall

General Information

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