Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The world’s largest arts festival is full of surprises

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Kai Sedgwick

Kai Sedgwick
HomeAway travel expert

Edinburgh Fringe

Whether you’re a festival veteran or have yet to set foot in the city they call Auld Reekie, this year’s Fringe promises to be the best yet. Veteran Fringe-goers will require little by way of introduction; newcomers, on the other hand, may feel overwhelmed. For four weeks, half a million people descend on the Scottish capital, swelling it to twice its size.

With street teams thrusting flyers into your hand and posters clamouring for your attention on every wall and pillarbox, it’s easy to incur cultural overload. Like any arts festival the Fringe has its highs and lows: its five-star phenomenons and its one-star disasters. If you’re planning to take in this year’s Fringe, here’s what to expect – and here’s how to ensure your experience is one you’ll remember fondly.


What to see and do at Edinburgh Fringe


Comedy at Edinburgh Fringe Comedy at Edinburgh Fringe

Over the years, comedy has grown from being a sideline to the mainstay of the Fringe. Some of the world’s top comedians, from Bo Burnham to Tig Notaro, can be found performing stand-up here alongside the UK’s best up-and-coming comics. If you want to laugh – and let’s face it, who doesn’t? – Edinburgh Fringe is a rib-tickling sensation. Look out for reviews in the major Fringe accredited publications. If a show’s good, you’ll see its verdict plastered across the promotional posters. Suffice to say that four and five-star fare is recommended – anything less can be a bit hit and miss.

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Theatre at Edinburgh Fringe Theatre at Edinburgh Fringe

It’s not just tourists who fill the cobbled streets of Edinburgh during the month of August – a large chunk of Britain’s thespians also descend upon the capital, bringing with them a slew of whacky theatre productions. Shakespeare is always big business at the Fringe; expect to see the bard’s greatest plays reworked umpteen times over, usually with a postmodern flourish. There’ll also be no shortage of original productions, complete with spectacular stage sets and performances that are worthy of a standing ovation.


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Food and drink at Edinburgh Fringe Food and drink at Edinburgh Fringe

While Edinburgh is hardly short of quality restaurants and quirky cafés, during festival time, options increase exponentially thanks to the array of pop-up food outlets that spring up. Whether you fancy a hog roast, stuffed into a roll with crackling and apple sauce, or spicy Indian street food, you won’t have to stray far from the Fringe venues. Best of all, Edinburgh relaxes its drinking laws during August, ensuring that revellers can stay refreshed right through till 5am. Try doing that more than three nights on the trot, however, and the late nights will catch up with you – save the late drinking for special occasions only!

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Venues at Edinburgh Fringe Venues at Edinburgh Fringe

During August, a seemingly miraculous transformation occurs in Edinburgh as old venues, subterranean vaults and cellars that have lain dormant throughout the year are brought to life. In the Meadows park, a huge tent is erected; on George Street a pedestrianised area is filled with fairylight-clad venues and pop-up bars, while the grass of George Square gives way to astroturf and wooden theatres where some of the best Fringe shows can be experienced. Unsure where to start? Grab a guide from one of the information booths and explore the city at your leisure.

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Accommodation at Edinburgh Fringe Accommodation at Edinburgh Fringe

If there’s one piece of advice to take to heart regarding Edinburgh Fringe, it’s this: book early. With the city effectively doubling in size during the festival, it would be fair to say that space is at a premium. There are some great city centre apartments, studio flats and grand Georgian houses to choose from – HomeAway is stocked with them. Book early and you’ll be able to catch the best of the Fringe action before retreating to your comfortable holiday rental to unwind. If you’re going to enjoy the world’s greatest arts festival, treat yourself and enjoy it in style.

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Edinburgh Fringe banner © ℓαurα suαrez
Edinburgh Fringe theatre © Underbelly Limited
Udderbelly © Underbelly Limited
Edinburgh Fringe food © www.theedinburghblog.co.uk
Edinburgh Fringe posters © zoetnet

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