I've wanted to visit the Edinburgh Fringe for some time now and if not this year, then almost certainly next year. How do I go about it? Are there tickets to the festival itself or do I buy tickets for each individual event comprising it? Are there free events? Is it just comedy or does it showcase other kinds of art?
"Festival time" in Edinburgh comprises most of the month of August. There are actually festivals in Edinburgh throughout the year, but in August several festivals overlap - the biggest of which is of course the Edinburgh Fringe.
You don't buy tickets for the festival itself, as it's really just a collection of events held at different fringe venues around town. You can buy tickets for the individual events at the venues or at the Fringe Box Office on the Royal Mile (or the Fringe website, and go and pick them up at the box office). You will need to book in advance for the most popular shows, but if you don't have anything specific in mind you can turn up and see what's available (see below).
The meat of the Fringe is comedy, but you can also find dance, drama, musical theatre, acrobatics, improv, children's shows and more. That's not even including the International Festival, Art Festival and International Book Festival (and probably more) that are also on in August.
Ways to find out what's on:
- Go to one of the venues (that will tell you what's on at that particular venue - handy if you're already there seeing something else and want something nearby)
- Pick up a Fringe guide - you can find them in a lot of Fringe venues, sometimes in restaurants and cafés on the Royal Mile or other tourist-centric places, or places like libraries (for us locals). If you want to plan your events ahead of time, I believe you can get a copy posted to you from the website, but you have to pay P&P.
- Walk down the Royal Mile and wait to be accosted by people giving you leaflets for their shows
There are plenty of free events - both street performances on the Royal Mile (circus tricks, magic, etc.) and "free Fringe" events at selected venues. There is usually an expectation, however, that you will pay if you liked the show (a bucket goes round) in order to reward the performers. But no one forces you to - much like no one forces you to pay a service charge in a restaurant - and if you do choose to pay, you can pay what you want.