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Navigating the Edinburgh Fringe: A five-step guide

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1. Do not succumb to Fringe FOMO.

You cannot see everything. You will miss famous people. You will miss the “guaranteed absolute best show at the Fringe.” You will miss that one show based on the lovelife of a pineapple told through interpretive dance that everyone thinks will be a flop but then gets rave reviews and sells out in the first week. Forget about it, there's no point wasting a second of your Fringe time regretting the things you didn't see. 

2. Feel free to refuse flyers.

As previously mentioned, you cannot see everything, and if you take every flyer offered you risk serious injury from carrying around so much excess weight. A cheerful “No thank you” will dissuade about three quarters of promoters – the other 25% are the more tenacious, sit-down-at-your-dinner-table-and-threaten-to-make-off-with-your-firstborn-unless-you-take-a-flyer type. In this case it's best to take the flyer and either keep it or bin it – so long as it doesn't end up on the street.

3. Carry a map. Always.

If you want to make the most of your Fringe, you might be facing some very quick turnarounds. Yes, it is possible to get from the Pleasance Courtyard to Bristo Square in three minutes, but only if you don’t get lost. The official Fringe maps are free, and they have all the venues on them that Google Maps for mobile does not.

4. See a free show.

Or better than that, many free shows. Yes, they can be hit-or-miss, but so can the big-budget productions and at least this way you don't lose any money. The free shows performed by an unknown-but-tenaciously-optimistic newcomer in the back room of a pub are what make the Fringe, and there are some outstanding gems to be found.

5. Take care of yourself.

Remember to eat. And sleep. The Fringe is a paradise of entertainment, but it’s not worth damaging yourself over. If you spend your food budget on tickets and see back-to-back shows during dinnertime then you'll probably end up with more cultural capital... but also with low energy and run-down immune system, so make sure you get some time off.

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