Held in August each year, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is one of the biggest dates on the travel calendar. Offering nearly a month of fun and games in this historic city with raucous late pub openings most nights and over 30,000 performances, it’s a must for every traveler.
With so much entertainment on offer, the costs can add up – so here are our top tips on how to make the most of this year’s festival on a budget!
1. Be the first to book accommodation.
Edinburgh hostels have a number of great cheap beds and rooms scattered across the city center but the popularity of the festival with backpackers means the best (and most affordable) places always fill up fast!
2. Search for discount train tickets in advance.
Although the most cost-effective way to get to Edinburgh from the rest of the UK is by bus (London from £10 return), the journey is pretty slow and uncomfortable. Train companies also offer cheap fares when they’re booked before the day of travel (the earlier, the better).
3. Take a friend along to the Half Price Hut.
On the corner of Waverley Bridge and Princes Street (by Princes Mall), there’s a half-price ticket booth for the fringe which offers does 2-for-1 deals for many shows on the day of performance. If none of your mates want to go, you’re bound to meet someone at your hostel with similar interests who’ll be happy to split the costs this way!
4. Arrive early.
From the opening weekend (August 3/4) through to the middle of the second week, the festival is at its quietest and, when there are only small audiences booked in, there are often great discounts to be had. Hanging around outside one of the big theatres like The Pleasance can be a great way to get cheap (or even free) tickets when organizers hope to fill up seats at the last minute.
5. Knock the sellers down.
When you’re offered a deal, investigate the possibility of an even cheaper one! It’s always worth asking…
6. Check out snippets of over 100 shows at Fringe Sunday.
On 10th August 2008, the Edinburgh Meadows hosts a day of cabaret, theatre, music dance and comedy – all for free! This busy day is the largest free event of the Fringe Festival and includes a farmers market and a host of family-friendly fun.
7. See top comedians on the cheap at Amnesty International’s Stand Up for Freedom gigs.
Although most of the low-priced shows involve fun but alternative stuff, the charity’s two sponsored late-night shows on 6th and 13th August include such illustrious names as Ed Byrne and Jo Caufield and are a bargain! What’s more, proceeds go directly towards Amnesty International’s human rights work.
8. Hit the streets!
The central section of the Royal Mile becomes one big, lively street-theatre throughout August, with acrobats, entertainers and musicians all entertaining the crowds that flock to the city. Head to the National Galleries Complex for everything from fire-eaters to Peruvian pan-pipes and a truly festive atmosphere.
9. Visit Arthur Smith’s Arturart gallery on Queen Street for just £5.
During the Fringe this museum is packed with silly installations using two-way mirrors and CCTV from top names such as Stewart Lee, Jo Brand, Tim Vine and Harry Hill. It was awarded the if.comedy panel prize in 2007 and is definitely worth a visit.
10. Work for your living!
The numerous pubs and restaurants around Edinburgh are always keen to take on visitors for casual work throughout the festival to help with the massive crowds. With a few nights work behind the bar the festival could end up costing next to nothing! And, with late openings and a constant buzz around the city, it’s entertaining as well as a job.
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