There are over 10 festivals in Edinburgh during August, including the Fringe, which makes it one of the most exciting places to visit. Having all those festivals on at the same time can be a bit overwhelming for a first time (or even regular) visitor, so I have compiled some of my top tips for making the most of your trip to Edinburgh.
1. Plan early if you can!
During August, Edinburgh has up to half a million visitors and the majority of them are going to need somewhere to stay. Whatever you’re planning, try and book it as early as possible. Paying at least double what you would normally pay is inevitable, but leaving it to the last minute means all of the affordable accommodation is likely to be gone and it could mean that you’re either stuck in the middle of nowhere or left having to pay more than you’d have liked to. Bite the bullet – it will be worth it when you get here!
2. Plan your trip, but don’t over-schedule yourself
Part of the magic of the festival is just wandering down the Royal Mile and finding a random show that’s about to start and going in even though you have no idea what it’s about, or stopping to watch a street performer and then realising you’ve missed the show you were going to because you ended up enjoying their performance so much. By all means, make the most of the brochure and the app and the website before you get here and plan your must-see shows but make sure you leave yourself time to just explore and embrace all Edinburgh has to offer in August.
3. Download the Edinburgh Fringe app
The app is genuinely really good and it’s a convenient way to carry around the whole Fringe brochure with you. You can also sign in so that you can buy tickets and access your booking details so that you don’t need to print off confirmations or anything.
The ‘Near Me Now’ feature is my favourite way to find a gem: you just let the app access your location and it will tell you what’s closely and starting soon – the only difficulty is deciding what to go for, especially when promoters from those shows catch sight of you and start bombarding you with flyers and promises of a great show!
4. Accept that you’re going to spend a lot of money
As with all trips, once you’ve arrived, you have to forget about the money it cost you to get there and to get your bed for the night and focus on having fun. Between the shows, the amazing restaurants/food stalls/pubs and pop up bars you certainly won’t be short of things to spend money on. I’m not saying you should blow all your money on stupid things (see the next tip!), but make sure you don’t leave the city with money in your pocket wishing that you had done X, Y and Z. Make the most of your time and experience as much as you can. It isn’t every day that you’re at the Edinburgh Festival!
5. …But be smart about what you spend it on!
Some of the best shows I have ever seen at the festival were free, so if you’re going to pay £15 for a show make sure you really want to see it – you never know, there might be something even better that doesn’t cost anything! There is also the Virgin Half Price Hut, so make sure you head there to have a look for deals. You can only get these tickets in person and on the day, so it’s a great place to go first thing in the morning.
6. It’s not all about the shows
During August, so many bars and food places pop up all over Edinburgh so make sure you leave yourself time to explore George Square, St Andrew Square and The Grassmarket (and basically any other open space that’s large enough to add a bar…). You won’t be disappointed!
7. Embrace the festival atmosphere
Edinburgh is an amazing city anyway, but during the festival it becomes one of the best places to be in the world – just ask the hoards visitors that come back year after year! The key to having a great time is to just embrace the random opportunities that come your way, whether that’s making new friends at a pub in the Cowgate or heading into see a show you’ve never heard of. So, go ahead and try that haggis or the deep fried mars bar or sample our world famous whiskies and gins, you’re bound to have some good stories to tell!
So there you have it – my top tips for having a fabulous time in Edinburgh during the festival. What are your tips for coming to Edinburgh in August? Let me know in the comments below!