The Edinburgh Festival is a wonderful explosion of culture, colour and crowds which bursts over the city during August. You may be forgiven for thinking all you have to do is turn up with a pocketful of hopes and dreams and enjoy yourself.
Whilst that is true to an extent, if you’ve never been to Edinburgh before – or have, but not for a few years – here are a few tips and hints from us to help ease your experience:
Climb every mountain
Edinburgh is a hilly city – you will walk uphill to get to the venue; and you will walk uphill to get back again.
Some of the hills (Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill) provide spectacular views and escapes from the crowds, but most of them (The Mound, Dundas Street, et al) merely provide you with a hill.
So either come prepared with sensible footwear, or rely on public transport to get you where you need to be (though see point below).
I can see clearly now the haar has gone
Edinburgh is a coastal city, with a rather unique weather system.
You will notice this if you go up one of the nice hills and look to the north, where you’ll see the Firth of Forth shimmering its silvery way towards the North Sea.
Unless the haar has descended, that fog-like gift from the North Sea so beloved of Edinburgh residents, covering all in a blanket of cold, damp, impenetrable greyness. Cold, damp, impenetrable greyness that only the rain rapidly approaching from the west will disperse.
So be warned, whilst we wish for a month of unbroken sunshine as much as anyone, come suitably armed or be prepared to pay astronomical prices for plastic tartan pac-a-macs.
Men at work
Edinburgh is in the throes of a massive traffic improvement scheme, introducing a modern cutting-edge tram network to the city.
This has had the unavoidable side effect of turning large swathes of our roads into building sites and results in frequent congestion and travel delays.
We think the trams will be great…when they’re finished…but in the meantime, we would advise adding an extra half hour onto any journey you may have planned that crosses the route of the tramworks.
The wheels on the bus go round
Edinburgh has a fantastic public transport system, and hundreds of reliable and friendly bus and taxi drivers (seriously, we know a few).
However, the combination of Festival over-population and the tramworks may strain the patience of even the most saintly, so please be kind to any you encounter.
If indeed you manage to catch one at all – taxis in particular do become quite a rare species during August.
You can’t please all of the people all of the time
Not everyone in Edinburgh loves the Fringe.
Hard to believe, I know, but you will likely come across at least three distinct types of anti-festival groups during your visit:
- Firstly, there are those that have to go to work. These souls deserve your sympathy, as most of them would dearly love to be swanning around from show to show and drinking in the open air just like you. The looks of sheer hatred they shoot you may persuade you otherwise, but trust us, it’s true: we were those people once…
- Secondly, there are those dear old Edinburgh ladies, who wish for nothing more than to walk slowly from one end of George Street to the other carrying large bags of shopping, muttering about how things used to be better before “all this festival nonsense” started. Best avoided, or at least carefully overtaken.
- Lastly, and this is semi-serious, the young and disaffected. Now, Edinburgh is by and large a safe city, but feral packs of youths have been spotted prowling the streets before. They tend to keep away from the main venues, but if you do find yourself close to any, keep your head down and don’t say things like “Felicity, what did you make of that emotionally effervescent theatrical tour-de-force we just had the good fortune to witness?” within their earshot. Parts of Trainspotting are based on fact, you know.
Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps please
Edinburgh is full of pubs.
Surely a good thing? Yes, and no.
On some streets, every second establishment is a pub (and the ones in between are off-licences). And opening hours are extended so much during the Festival, it is possible to drink 24/7 if you so wish.
If you are easiliy tempted, you could find yourself drunk by breakfast, hungover by lunchtime and refused entry into a show or two for looking dazed and confused by teatime.
Remember – all things in moderation….
That’s it. Keep the above in mind and you’ll be sure to have a fantastic time. As for us, we love the whole mad circus of the Fringe, and we’re looking forward to welcoming you here.
Remember to say hello if you see us. We’ll be walking up a hill.