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Edinburgh Fringe Festival Advice


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#1 Southstreet

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 08:22 AM

I have never been to Edinburgh but am considering going this year for the fringe festival. Does anyone have any tips on what to see and especially where to stay? I heard accommodation can be horrendously overpriced during the festival. I am not really too bothered where I stay, I just need a bed to put my head down, so even hostels etc will be fine. I just wanna be central enough not to rely on public transport if possible.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

#2 Haz

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 08:38 AM

In terms of accommodation, I'm not much use - I'm from Edinburgh and my trip back this summer is the first one I've done during the festival where I've actually had to find somewhere to stay.

Prices DO go up, but it's not extortionate. Try contacting the university - they rent out the halls of residence for about 25 a night upwards. Most hostels would charge this for a single room, and the uni is at least slightly more private. A lot of people also privately rent out their spare rooms during the festival, which can offer a bit more homeliness than a hostel etc. Otherwise, try the Scottish Youth Hostel Association - they have some great places near the west end of Princes Street that are very central.

What to see is almost an impossible question. I really think that to get the full festival experience, you do have to see at least one truly crap thing! See as much as you can, but don't forget to allow time to just soak up the general atmosphere - there is so much going on outwith the 'official' performances that you don't want to spend all day every day sat in theatres/venues.

If you like musicals, check out the programme for George Square. Their dedication wholly to musicals this year is one of the most exciting things to have happened at the festival for a long, long time IMO. I'll do a shameless plug for Departure Lounge as it's fabulous!

I appreciate your point about not wanting to have to rely on public transport too much. Most of central Edinburgh is easy to get around on foot (though a bit hilly in places!) but the public transport system is also great. I've lived/spent a lot of time in several cities round the UK - Edinburgh, Newcastle, Sheffield, Nottingham, London, Bristol - and the buses in Edinburgh are better than anywhere else. If you're really on a budget, try looking to stay somewhere in the suburbs (Portobello, Musselburgh etc are all lovely, and right on the coast) - the buses are about 80p for a single trip or 2.20 for a day ticket (or at least they were last year when I was last up there - they might have gone up a little) and these places are only about a 25 minute bus ride into the city centre, so worth looking into.

Hope that helps!
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#3 Alison

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 12:17 PM

Current bus prices are 1.10 for a single trip (they've just put it up sad.gif) and 2.50 for a day ticket.  There are currently holes in the road all over the city cause of the tram works, but the buses aren't being affected too much - just don't do what I've managed to do more than once and stand at a stop for ages waiting for a bus, then realise it's currently out of use heh.

As far as what to see goes, the Half Price Hut on top of Princes Mall is always a good bet.  You can generally get some good recommendations from other people in the queue - and cheap tickets for loads of shows, too.  And the majority of the city centre venues are within a short walking distance from there.

I'm really excited about the George Square musicals too - given that I've just moved into a new flat less than 5 minutes away, I somehow think I'm going to be spending rather a lot of time there during the Festival. smile.gif

#4 Statler

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 10:44 AM

As others have said Edinburgh public transport is very good both in routes and frequency, and if you are there for a few days it's normally easy enough to plan things so that you spend an afternoon or evening in an area of the city so you don't have too much walking to do.  And to be honest most of the main venues are no more than 30 minutes walk apart at most (although still not pleasant in the rain!).

If you find Edinburgh accommodation really pricey consider staying outside Edinburgh as the cost of the train will be much less than the "Fringe surcharge" added to Edinburgh prices.  (NB probably not an option if you plan on seeing lots of late night comedy).

As for shows, well it's all about finding ones that suit you.  We've spent some time and done our own 'preview' at www.viewfromthestalls.co.uk but apart from a few shows we've already seen it isn't really recommendations - just things that have caught our attention and we hope to review.  But we do also have a good "Tips for Fringegoers" post from last year that gives some good advice.  And do make the most of the internet - do a bit of a google for any shows you plan on seeing (and even youtube) as the programme blurbs are really too short to decide on.

Oh yeah... and never ever buy one of those dreadful sausages inserted in a baguette!


#5 armadillo

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 11:27 AM

I would echo everyone that you don't need to worry too much about public transport. You don't want to keep going to and fro from the Old Town to the New Town but the venues on each side are all pretty close. Don't book up too much in advance - part of the fun is sitting outside the Pleasance or one of the other large venues waiting for eager young students to try to persuade you to see their show. Some of this will be rubbish but I've seen been persuaded to see stuff that I wouldn't have noticed otherwise And very few shows actually sell out except for the top comics so you unless it's something you're really desperate to see, don't worry too much about booking - it's worth checking at the half-price booth every morning.

As as been said, both Portobello and Musselburgh are very nice - you will have a seaside holiday as well as a towny one and even Musselburgh is only half an hour on the bus from Princes Street.

#6 Haz

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 02:33 PM

QUOTE(armadillo @ Jun 28 2008, 12:27 PM) View Post
As as been said, both Portobello and Musselburgh are very nice - you will have a seaside holiday as well as a towny one and even Musselburgh is only half an hour on the bus from Princes Street.


If you do decide to go to Musselburgh, go to Di Rollos and have some of their praline and hazelnut icecream. It alone is worth a trip to Edinburgh! laugh.gif
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#7 Southstreet

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 12:15 PM

Thank you all so much for your help.  biggrin.gif

Have found a cheap hostel in the city centre, as I literally just need somewhere to kip.

Departure Lounge is definitely on my list of shows to see, I think I might be spending a lot of time at the George Square Theatre.  wink.gif Will be there for 3 days only, Saturday early morning til Monday night, so will try and book a couple of things ahead for the Saturday,so that I have time to find my bearings without the additional complication of making show decisions and then just see what catches my eye out there.



#8 Backdrifter

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 12:34 PM

I'm going for a week in early Aug and very excited. As I'm a planner by nature, I have already combed through the brochure and booked a load of stuff, with some days having morning through to small hours schedules. Do pick up a brochure if you haven't already, they're available at various venues throughout the UK.

Good tip about the ice cream earlier. Edinburgh also has one of the bext Mexican restuarants I've been to, unimaginatively called Viva Mexico but very good, certainly in comparison to the rubbish we tend to get in London. I'm also told that Always Sunday is worth a visit.
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#9 Haz

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 01:52 PM

the Jekyll and Hyde on Hanover Street is great for drinks etc, if only for the loos in a bookshelf!

there are some great restaurants out in Leith (which is a much nicer area now than it was when I moved away!)

all the pubs/restauarants/bars on George Street are buzzing throughout the festival. it's not the cheapest area, but it's great for location and atmosphere almost everywhere.

backdrifter - i'm doing the same at the moment. i've finally got my dates confirmed so i know when i'm there, and what i absolutely HAVE to see. after they're fitted in, my list of things i WANT to see more than fills the rest of the time, and that's without factoring in any time for random selections. i could be up there for the duration and still not manage to see everything!
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http://curtain-up.blogspot.com/

#10 Backdrifter

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 04:08 PM

Yes, I went nuts at first and listed far too many. I composed a schedule that barely left time for me to run from one venue like a fugitive and arrive red-faced and breathless at the next with almost no time to spare. I decided that while this had some appeal, I should free up some room to enjoy the place a bit more. I now have a carefully-crafted itinerary that gradually ramps up from Saturday to a full-up Tuesday, with nothing on Wednesday save one production in the evening. Funny you mentioned Leith, I was thinking of using that 'free' day to visit it, or some other outlying area I don't know so well - all suggestions happily received.

Arriving the Saturday off the sleeper - one of my favourite ways to arrive in a city, first thing in the morning and watch it come to life.
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