Edinburgh is THE place to be in August. Scotland’s capital city plays host to the biggest arts festival in the world every year (the 2019 Fringe runs from 2-26 August). The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is packed with a huge range of shows covering anything from comedy, theatre, dance, cabaret, music, children’s shows, exhibitions and much more. With over 3,500 shows in over 300 venues across the city, Edinburgh comes alive with tourists and performers looking to soak up some culture.
With the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh International Book Festival running at the same time as the Fringe, planning a visit to Edinburgh in August can seem daunting but it is well worth the trip. To make things a bit easier we would like to offer you some advice on how to plan a great trip to ‘Auld Reekie’ in August.
With such a vast range of shows you might be wondering where to start. You might recognise some names of the bigger comedians that tend to play the larger venues (for larger prices). While they are great, part of the fun is watching an amazing new play or brand new comedian, sometimes for free. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is world renowned for kick starting the careers of some big names in comedy and theatre including Rowan Atkinson, Jo Brand, Eddie Izzard, Ben Elton, Tim Minchin and Flight of the Conchords to name only a few.
You may find inspiration by wandering down the bustling Royal Mile where you will see street performers and snippets of shows as well as teams of people handing out flyers for shows.
One of the great things about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is that it can be done on any budget. From big name comedians in huge venues through to performers just starting out putting on free shows in some of the quirkier venues. Some of these will ask you to pay what you can at the end of the show.
In addition to the free shows there is also the Virgin Money half-price hut situated on Princes Street next to the Scottish National Galleries.
During the opening few days of the festival many shows offer half-price or two-for-one ticket offers which help cut the cost of seeing some of those shows that are on your wish-list.
With over 300 venues being used for shows across Edinburgh, the Fringe really does use every nook and cranny of the city it possibly can. There are a few main hubs that host a number of venues:
Based in a number of locations, most of the action takes place at the Pleasance Courtyard, east of the Old Town. There are a large range of rooms here taking anything from 750 people down to an intimate 48. A great place to grab a drink and soak up the atmosphere. The Pleasance Dome at Bristo Square and the Pleasance at the EICC are larger venues under the same banner.
You can’t miss this giant venue inside an upside-down purple cow based at George Square. As you can guess, some of the bigger acts play here but with plenty of food and drink stalls, George Square is definitely one of the best places to relax and unwind between shows. The Underbelly at the Cowgate hosts a number of venues down in the lively Old Town as well, mainly focusing on comedy.
The Assembly venues
While all holding the Assembly name they are not necessarily close together so we thought we’d highlight these. The Assembly Hall is a huge building on the Mound overlooking Princes Street with a nice courtyard ideal for pre and post show refreshments. The Assembly Rooms are on George Street in the centre of Edinburgh. The Assembly Roxy is next to the Pleasance and the Assembly Checkpoint is near Bristo Square.
A central hub, near George Square, with plenty of bars and food stalls. A fifteen minute walk from the Pleasance, this an ideal place to refuel on the doorstep to other popular venues such as the huge, and photogenic, McEwan Hall and the Gilded Balloon at Teviot.
There are plenty of other venues out there but these are some of the main hubs during the Fringe.
We would recommend booking this as early as you can. Edinburgh gets very busy during August and we do not want you to miss out. Edinburgh First offer some great options for different prices including KM Central hotel which is a five-minute walk away from the Pleasance and a ten-minute walk from the Royal Mile. These modern and stylish rooms are the perfect place to recharge after an action-packed day at the Festival.
Next door to KM Central are Edinburgh First’s Richmond Place Apartments, a self-serviced sanctuary in the middle of the festival, only a few-minutes’ walk from Bristo Square and George Square. These apartments allow for more flexibility and may suit families or those with a calendar crammed full of festival shows!
Alternatively, Salisbury Green Hotel & Bistro is a stunning hotel situated in peaceful, landscaped grounds at the foot of Arthur’s Seat. A fifteen-minute walk to the Pleasance Courtyard, this hotel is still situated close to the action but is a great, quiet place to unwind after an action-packed day at the festival. You can choose between rooms in our very traditional 18th Century Mansion House or one of the recently refurbished modern rooms in Masson House next door.
We also have 2-star and 3-star campus accommodation at Pollock Halls that can be both en-suite and shared facilities – perfect for those who are on a budget.
We hope that you find this information useful when planning your trip to the greatest festival on Earth. We’ll see you soon!
For more information on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and to view the programme click here: https://www.edfringe.com/
For more information on Edinburgh First accommodation and to book click here: https://www.edinburghfirst.co.uk/accommodation