Every August the population of Edinburgh doubles in size almost overnight as it welcomes people from all over the world to experience comedy, theatre and dance (and probably everything else in between!). What many people may not know is that the Edinburgh Festival encompasses a number of individual festivals in one. The largest and most well known of these is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which this year sees over 3,000 events taking place across over 250 venues right across Edinburgh. The Edinburgh International Book Festival is also a big draw and features authors and speakers from all over the world. Another highlight is The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo which takes place on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle throughout August. There really is something for everyone in Edinburgh in August. In fact the amount of choice can be quite daunting with so much to see and do all over the city. That’s why we’ve pulled together this short guide to help you make the most of your stay in Edinburgh over the Festival period.
Despite being a small city, it’s quite easy to get lost in Edinburgh with it’s numerous winding narrow streets especially those leading off the Royal Mile. It’s worth getting hold of a Festival Fringe programme before you arrive as it usually contains a map at the back which can help you get from A to B. Google Maps can also be handy if you’re out and about looking for a venue.
Dress for every eventuality
Whilst the summer has been lovely so far, this is Scotland so things may change (quickly!). Edinburgh is famous for often having all four seasons in the one day so it’s definitely always worth carrying a waterproof with you! Comfortable walking shoes are also essential as many of the streets around the venues are cobbled. Comfy shoes are also handy for helping you get between venues.
Have a plan (but be flexible)
As many of the best shows are booked out well in advance, we’d recommend booking your “must see” shows before you even get to Edinburgh. The online booking process is pretty straightforward. It’s important to be flexible in your schedule too as there might be some shows you just hear about that you want to go see, therefore it’s good to keep a few gaps in your schedule. The Virgin Money Half Price Hut can be a great place to start to find out about shows and also to pick up some bargains.
Don’t just read one review
The majority of reviewers rate shows on the star system: one star equals poor; five, unmissable. However it is worth pointing out that not all reviewers follow the same criteria when rating a show. It often depends on the publication or even the reviewer themselves. It’s always worth checking out more than one review before seeing a show. A review is all about personal taste at the end of the day. Websites such as The List often compile reviews into one place to make this easier.
Check out the Returns List
Quite often people don’t turn up to collect pre-ordered tickets. These are usually made available on the morning of the show at the box office (make sure you get there early). There might even be an online list you can join. This can be a great way to see shows which have previously been marked as “sold out”.
Just arriving at restaurants
Booking a table at a restaurant can be a nightmare in August. If you’ve not got a reservation it is still worth asking at a restaurant anyway. Often people get distracted by shows that they forget that they have a booking, so it’s always worth just asking if they have space. They’re unlikely to turn custom away if they have space.
Get away from it all
Whilst the chaos of the Festival is great, it’s good to get a break from it. There are lots of areas of green space in Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is perhaps the closest, with the summit being a 30 minute hike from the bottom of the Royal Mile. The Meadows are also a short stroll away and are a good place to sit and relax and have a picnic. Further afield, the Royal Botanic Garden has lovely views right across Edinburgh.
Still to book accommodation?
If you’d like to visit Edinburgh for the Festival this year, we still have some availability at our Gladstone Apartment. It sleeps up to 5 people and is available to let from 25th August so ideal if you want to come to Edinburgh for the August Bank Holiday weekend. It’s available for a minimum of 6 nights, but that means you can enjoy the last weekend of the Festival, the Bank Holiday weekend, the Festival Fireworks and then have a few days at the end to relax or to do a bit more exploring. Just take a look at our website to find out more.