Your Guide to the Edinburgh Festivals 2014
Originally founded in 1947, The Edinburgh Festivals have been inviting the world’s best artists and companies to entertain for over sixty years, with many household names starting out as a small show in the Fringe. Whatever your preference in the arts, the atmosphere in Edinburgh is electric during the Festival, with thousands of national and international visitors arriving to see their chosen acts. The Festival offers something for everybody, be it comedy shows to classical music and theatre.
The Edinburgh Festivals are undoubtedly amazing, but also potentially chaotic arts extravaganzas. For both local residents and tourists, it can sometimes seem like an overwhelming mix of performers, flyers and busy streets, but following a few, simple survival tips will make your experience of the world's biggest arts festival slightly less hectic...
Chill between shows
It can be tempting to ambitiously book an array of shows back to back, but rushing from venue to venue with seconds to spare and no time to really soak in the Fringe atmosphere can become exhausting, and also take away the enjoyment of each individual show. Obviously if you're short on time at the Festival, it's understandable to want to catch multiple shows, but make sure they don't all blend into one by spacing out the fun.
Be prepared for all weather eventualities
Perhaps a blindingly obvious piece of advice, given Scotland's reputation for bad weather, but if you're planning on doing a full day of Fringe activity, don't be led astray by the beautifully sunny sky greeting you as you set off in the morning – this could easily evolve into a monsoon-like rain storm coupled with gale force winds and chilly temperatures. Simply put: bring out something waterproof, as well as another layer, and only wear flip flops if the weatherman can guarantee you a full day of sunshine.
Check out the Half Price Hut and Free Fringe
Increasingly since its inception in 1996, the Free Fringe has become a veritable option for a diverse range of quality shows, featuring acts that are certainly worth giving your time to. The Festival can be an expensive business, particularly if you're planning on seeing a double figures amount of shows, so alternating the full price shows with some of the cheaper, or even free alternatives, could be something to consider. The Half Price Hut is also great for on-the-day bargains, often for even the most popular of Fringe shows, and particularly during the week, so definitely pay it a visit to see what's available.
Get the Fringe app
Incredibly handy and easy to use, the official Edinburgh Festival Fringe app will keep you on the straight and narrow. If you've decided last minute to go and watch a show, then the Nearby Now function is really useful, and you can also bookmark everything you're planning on seeing as well as being able to search the entire Fringe programme.
Walk where you can
Traffic anywhere in the Old Town throughout the Fringe can be a bit of a nightmare – taxis, buses and general driving can take as much as half an hour longer than normal, depending on how many people are cramming into the centre to catch a show. If you're able to, walking up from the New Town and hitting the festival that way is your best option for avoiding the queues.
Remember to pack a few snacks for the day. You’ll be so busy attending shows packing snacks like shortbread can be a great way to survive the day. So whether you are visiting the Festival or not this year, why not visit the shop for a great range of delicious shortbread, cakes and biscuits, many in keepsake tins. The perfect way to take a little piece of Scotland home with you!