It’s August, and the streets of Scotland’s capital are bursting with a carnival atmosphere. Performers call out as you pass by, tourists dance around the pavements behind troops of musicians who wander seemingly without reason. It’s the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest art festival, and it’s time for you to have some fun.
The whole town is swollen with artistic delight, from the shores of Leith right up to the green delight of Edinburgh’s Meadows. But with so much on, what to do? Where to go? Here are some suggestions to get you started.
More than anything you’ll want a Fringe guide and if the powers of mighty telecommunications allow you, then the new Fringe app on your phone. These are invaluable maps to the entertainment to follow. Just finding the hundreds of venues can be a trial in itself.
Begin your day under the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. Wander through the Grassmarket to hear the street performers as they pluck guitar strings, juggle chainsaws and show you why art on the street can be every bit as exciting as that indoors. You will probably want some tasty feeding too, you’re going to need the energy. Head to Oink on Victoria Street for a delicious hog roast roll, or if you’re seeking a healthier or veggie like option then try the delightful Hula, a juice bar which is as colourful as it is friendly. Use the opportunity to scan through the huge programme while you have it.
Afterwards take a stroll down The Royal Mile for more street performing. There are some fantastic things to see and just the atmosphere itself is worth the visit. Alternatively if the Edinburgh weather is failing to respect the season then take a quick detour down The Mound instead. Next to the National Gallery building at the bottom you should find crowds of people hovering around the Half-Price Hut. Armed with your trusty Fringe guide or app you can quickly work out which of that day’s half price shows might be worth a visit. There are thousands of things to see, and it’s worth being adventurous.
Assuming you’re not dashing off to see a show then head back up The Mound and down George IV Bridge, past the wee statue of the famous dog that’s probably got more tourists around it than the National Gallery did. Aim towards Bristo Square and the giant purple upside down cow of the Udder-belly (yes really). It’s one of the great hubs of festival delight.
If you want a break from it all then pop into the BBC@Potterrow, a lovely little area to the side of Bristo Square. Grab a coffee from the stall hosted by Brew Lab. They truly are coffee wizards. There’s a bar for you if you’re so inclined and normally some activities for kids, small and large alike. The shows here are free but ticketed, but it’s worth checking the Box Office as sometimes they’ll usher people in at the last minute. There’s also a release early in the day if you can get there in time.
Hungry again? Head round the corner to Nile Valley for a very reasonably priced and incredibly delicious wrap. Or if your tooth pines for sweeter things then grab an ice cream or shake at Scoopz. In the afternoon your options are endless, and you really should take advantage of the shows on offer. If you head to The Pleasance Courtyard you can find a host of things to see, sometimes at discount prices (especially at the start of The Fringe). If not you can just enjoy the crowds of fellow revellers in the courtyard, there’s plenty of bars to pick up a drink.
Want another place to go? Try out the wonderful offering at Summerhall which hosted a variety of award winning shows in 2013. It boasts a fantastic pub with some of the best beers you’ll find at the festival. You can find a delicious bite to eat in their café or in the food offerings in the courtyard.
It’s August though and the whole city buzzes with excitement. This is but a small slice of it, but some of the best slices at that. Don’t be afraid to explore, adventure and generally frolic through the streets. There’s so much frolicking going on that you probably won’t even stand out. The best thing about Edinburgh in August is even the maddest of people fit in, because let’s face it – most people just think you’re part of the show!