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How to survive the Edinburgh Fringe

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So, you’ve made the decision to go to the Edinburgh Fringe!

Great! Well, you’re not alone. A combined audience of around 4.5 million people attended the festivals in 2017, so it’s a very busy time for Edinburgh. There’s also a huge amount of shows to see and things to do. Whether you’re just visiting for a few days, here for the whole month, or are a fearful Edinburgh resident dreading the crowds (like me), here are some tips and tricks to help you survive August in Edinburgh.

Plan ahead!

Plan, plan, plan! There’s only so many shows you can see, and it can often be very overwhelming the amount of things there are. The Fringe app is super useful – you can buy tickets, search for shows, bookmark shows you like the look of and track all of your shows in a useful calendar. If you want to get the most out of your Fringe, this app is a must.

As well as planning shows, you need to plan how you’re going to get around. If you’re walking around town, add at least 10 minutes onto however long Google Maps says it’ll take you to get anywhere. I normally double the journey time just to be safe. If you’re taking the bus, it’s likely it’ll take a bit longer too because there are a lot of tourists who don’t know how to use the bus. Download the Lothian Buses app to make your life slightly easier!

Make the most of discounts and deals

Most shows have previews on during the first few days of August, where the price of a show is substantially cheaper. If you’re in Edinburgh at this time, make sure to check this out! Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th August are 2for1 days, so you can get two tickets for the price of one – ideal for you and a friend.

The Virgin Money Half Price Hut sells half-price tickets everyday once the Fringe is underway, from the 9th August. It is based outside the Scottish National Gallery near Princes Street, so right in the centre of town.

There are loads of free shows throughout the Fringe – they can be a bit hit-and-miss, but there are often some absolute gems. Most free shows come under the remit of PBH’s Free Fringe, but they are also outlined on the main Fringe guide and app.

And of course, students are included in concessionary ticket prices, so make sure to save money that way!

Everything is expensive. Sorry.

Most cafes, pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants hike their prices up during the Fringe, because they know it’s their busiest time of year. This is hard to avoid (even student venues increase their prices by a third), but it is good to be aware of before you go. If you’re staying in self-catered accommodation, you should try and make this most of this! At least supermarkets don’t raise their prices, so you can cook meals and prepare lunches. Places like Spoons and fast food outlets can be quite cheap too, so keep an eye out for deals! Bars at venues are particularly expensive, so be aware of this too.

Clubs are open late!

Scottish licensing laws normally mean that clubs can only open until 3am, however during the festival this is extended until 5am in Edinburgh. One of Edinburgh’s most infamous clubs, The Hive, makes the most of this by doing ‘Hive til Five’ so if you’re keen to go out in Edinburgh, I’d definitely recommend this. Drinks and entry are just as cheap as normal, and it’s a great night out!

So there you have it – a whistlestop guide to surviving the Edinburgh Fringe. No matter what, make sure you enjoy yourself and make the most of your time here. It’s a beautiful city with a huge, huge range of things to do during the Fringe, and I am proud to be able to live here all year round.

This article is part of our coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Click here to read other articles written by our contributors. 
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