Guest blogger and Happiness Coach, Kay Cook shares some invaluable advice for getting the most out of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
I’ve been visiting Scotland for the world’s biggest arts festival during the hectic month of August, for many years. The streets explode with fun, frivolity and every kind of cultural offering. Here are my five top tips to help new visitors navigate the Edinburgh Fringe mayhem and madness and make the most of this spectacular event!
Tip #1 – Go with the flow
The Fringe Brochure comes out in June, but with over 2,500 shows on offer it would be a shame to only see your current favourites. Take a gamble on something fresh and unexpected – stay flexible, check out the free daily review sheets and, best of all, ask everyone you meet for their top recommendations. You’ll make new friends, widen your horizons and maybe discover the next big star!
Tip #2 – Stay comfortable
Summer in Scotland can bring scorching sunshine, chilly breezes and sudden downpours (all in the space of an hour!) so bring a brolly and wear layers. Edinburgh Fringe venues range from the sublime (the elegant Assembly Rooms) to the ridiculous (the Udderbelly, an inflatable tent in the shape of a giant upside-down purple cow – yes, really) and are scattered all over the city, so you will soon clock up the miles. Edinburgh’s winding streets and historic closes are best explored on foot, but steep hills and endless steps abound – flat shoes are a must.
Tip #3 – Bag a bargain
Those on a tight budget can find plenty of cheap thrills, especially along the Royal Mile where street performers, magicians, jugglers and buskers amaze and amuse the crowds all day long. Just remember they need to make a living, so don’t walk away without dropping a coin in the hat! The Free Fringe programme is packed with quality shows, often with appearances from well-known stars. Check out the Half Price Hut on the Mound for special offers, plus The Scotsman newspaper has a daily selection of 2-for-1 coupons.
Tip #4 – Enjoy the local fare
If you’re too busy show-hopping to take time out for a proper meal, refuel with tasty food on the go – try a freshly carved hog roast roll from the Oink! shop, or pick out some veggie treats from Henderson’s famous deli. A square of â€˜tablet’ – Scotland’s yummy fudge – will give a quick energy boost. In a city famous for its breweries it would be a shame not to sample the local ales, unless you prefer a single malt. I’d steer clear of Irn-Bru though!
Tip #5 – Take a break
The Edinburgh Fringe can be exhausting so don’t make it an endurance test – have an afternoon off and escape the crush. Climb the extinct volcano of Arthur’s Seat or take a gentler stroll up Calton Hill – both give panoramic views of the city, hills and coastline. For an even quirkier view of Edinburgh, the Camera Obscura projects a magical moving image of the surrounding cityscape; it’s housed in a museum full of illusions and optical tricks too, so well worth a visit. My favourite peaceful retreat has to be the beautiful Botanical Gardens – 70 acres of tranquillity just one mile from the city centre. Wander the tropical glasshouses, explore the exotic Chinese garden, watch the squirrels or simply indulge yourself with a sumptuous afternoon tea!
Enjoy – hope to see you north of the border!
Kay Cook is a coach, trainer and facilitator and has a particular interest in health, happiness and wellbeing. She blogs about these and other topics at The Happiness Kit Bag. She is also a certified Laughter Yoga leader. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @happinesskitbag