The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world and, as a result, it can be overwhelming deciding how to fill each day. With millions of people and almost as many shows descending on the Scottish capital for this entertainment extravaganza, it can be easy to miss truly iconic experiences amongst the madness.
While seeing the artists you know and love is guaranteed to be a rewarding and joyful decision, there are many more things that should make your to-do-list during the Festival. By no means an exhaustive list, here are ten of the best.
10 Stroll The Length Of Royal Mile
One of the greatest experiences you can have during the Fringe Festival will not require you to spend a single pound. Dating back centuries, this cobblestoned street lined with Edinburgh’s living history is so busy during the Festival that it will take you hours just to travel its iconic route.
Far from a nuisance, however, this is actually a wonderful thing for those wanting to enjoy an atmosphere only the largest arts celebration in the world can provide. Artists perform excerpts from their shows, marketing flyers are plentiful, and street performers besiege the public in attempts to assure a presence at upcoming performances.
9 Gilded Balloon
Boasting a reputation as the most impressive comedy venue gracing the Fringe, the Gilded Balloon is something not to be missed for the discerning Festival goer.
With a reputation for launching the career of many household names, you are guaranteed a superb experience no matter what show you choose to see here. With the original venue destroyed by a fire in 2002, Bristo Square now plays host, and this change of scenery has only served to enhance the experience.
This incredible theatre complex hosts some of the most influential shows of the Fringe, including plenty of comedy royalty. Equally as important, however, is that it is a launching pad for some of the brightest sparks in entertainment to begin a journey to stardom.
A quintessential Fringe afternoon involves sipping on a drink in the Pleasance beer garden while waiting for your next show to start or allowing performers themselves to convince you why their comedic creation is the one for you. One day in the near future, you may just be mentioning how you saw the career of a huge star begin right here.
7 Edinburgh Military Tattoo
When planning a trip to this outrageous arts festival, you would be forgiven for not expecting to see a military band in full flight. But that is just one joy of the Fringe—any random evening is a chance to experience the unexpected.
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an institution in this city. Dating back to 1949 and shown all around the world, it is something that must be seen to be believed. Take your seat beneath the magically illuminated Castle and prepare to be blown away.
6 Free Fringe
Any Festival that runs over a month is sure to wind up hitting the bank balance quite hard, so be sure to take advantage of the Free Fringe. Simply turn up at any show that's part of this system and, at its conclusion, you will be able to pay whatever you think the show was worth, or just whatever you can spare.
This is not just helpful to those enjoying the Fringe on a budget, but it is often the best way for new performers to showcase their wares in front of a live audience each night. Do not mistake the lack of a price tag for a sign of low-quality. Many of these shows are simply sensational and the artists you see for just a few pounds this year may well be playing to sold-out arenas next year.
5 Let The Half Price Hut Decide For You
Another marvelous way to keep the costs down is jaunting on down to the Half Price Hut just as the last rays of daylight are departing. Here you will find last-minute tickets being sold for performances that are beginning imminently.
If the huge Fringe Guide is a little intimidating and you can’t decide just which show you would like to see, head to the Hut and let them decide for you. Chances are you will end up seeing a show you love that otherwise would never have crossed your path.
4 Arthur’s Seat
For something a little different, lace up your sturdiest pair of shoes and take on this steep but moderate climb that will reward you with a remarkable panoramic view of Edinburgh at its most lively.
It is a short walk from the city center and the perfect way to fill your lungs with the fresh Scottish air before priming yourself for another night on the town. Be careful near the edges, however, as it can get pretty windy up there at this time of year. And, indeed, every time of year!
3 Edinburgh International Book Festival
Running from August 9-25, this literary festival within a festival nestles snugly within the Fringe calendar and provides a calming influence amid the riotous Fringe.
Featuring a family-friendly program, countless superb performances, and a wide variety of eclectic entertainment, the Book Festival is more than worth setting aside time for.
2 Sample The Whiskey
Seeing as you are in Scotland, it would be remiss to not have at least a sip of some world-famous drams while you have the chance. The Scotch Whiskey Experience on Royal Mile is a great place to start, as it houses the world’s largest collection of the amber liquid.
Should you develop a taste for this Scottish nectar, there are plenty of establishments across the city that will welcome you into their warm and cozy corner for more adventures in the discovery of local alcoholic refreshment. And for the under 18s, there is always Irn Bru, a particularly revered fizzy drink in Scotland.
1 Take In Some History At Edinburgh Castle
When you need a break from the madness of the Fringe, there are few better options than a walk through the past at Edinburgh Castle. Time your experience to witness the One O’Clock Gun, attempt to escape the military prison, and soak up the history on display with interactive events designed to deepen the understanding of Scottish history.
First built somewhere around the 12th Century, the Castle is a large part of what Edinburgh is, and a trip to the Scottish capital would not be complete without a thorough exploration of the storied structure.