Royal mile fringe festival 2019
Edinburgh Festival Guide, Edinburgh Fringe 2019, visit scotland

2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Planning Guide.

The Fringe 2019, also known as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest Arts and Culture Festival in the world and anyone can take part.

Different to the Edinburgh International Festival which runs during the same weeks in Edinburgh, the International festival is by invitation from the Festival Director and showcases top class performers of classical music, theatre, opera and dance.

This year the wonderful actor, Sir Ian McKellan will be performing at the Edinburgh Festival from the 22nd – 25th August 2019, an opportunity  to see him perform extracts from some of his most famous roles, from his many Shakespearean characters and of course his famous Harry Potter role as Gandalf. Tickets go on sale in the spring of 2019. The best way to get priority booking and behind the scenes benefits is to become a member of the Edinburgh international Festival. Prices start at £60 or you can pay by direct debit monthly.

The Edinburgh Festival and the Fringe festival both run from  2nd – 26th August 2019.  Tickets are online now as of June 6th and the app is available to download. Follow tweets on @edfringe. 

Festival fringe 2019
Festival fringe 2019@shutterstock

August in Scotland is mad, crazy busy. Accommodation is at a premium as the performers are staying in the city plus camera crews. The Military Tattoo starts in August and did I mention the Book Festival?  This tented village caters for over 1000 authors, in over 800 events for all ages. Starts 10-26th Aug 2019. Programme out mid June 2019.

TICKETS Edinburgh Fringe 2019 – The first thing you need is a copy of the brochure.  It is impossible to scroll through 3000 shows in over 300 venues. It is easier to narrow your search by comedy/music/theatre or childrens shows. The simplest way to get your hands on a brochure is to order one. (If you are in the city from June onwards you should be able to pick up a copy in coffee shops, cafes and tourist places).

  1. Join the mailing list to get updates and newsletter. http://www.edfringe.com.
  2.  The printed programme is usually launched around June and the ticket booking line is 0131 226 0000. 
  3. You can pre-order a free copy but you will have to pay postage and packaging. There is also a fringe app which will help you to find your venue or you can pick up a written map in any of the main ticket locations or collect a brochure in local book stores and many cafe dotted around the city. Remember that a booking fee of 80p per ticket (up to a maximum of £4.80) is applied to all bookings, including in person counter sales, except on tickets purchased from the Half Price Hut.

Cheap Tickets Prices Edinburgh fringe 2019

Edinburgh has a free Fringe festival 2019 and last year offered a record breaking 9,237 performances including comedy, cabaret, theatre, music and children shows. Details for these shows can be found at http://freefestival.co.uk. there is usually a hat passed around at the end of the show for donations. The aim of the free festival is to make the fringe accessible to all and is run by Laughing Horse festivals. I am updating this article in February so the list of venues and performers is not available but you can follow them on Facebook or on twitter, freefringefest. Brochure available in May 2019.

If you are on a budget here are some other tips to navigate the fringe cheaply.

1.Visiting the preview shows. These are offered at discounted prices usually at the start of August while performers test the water. However, remember that student and OAP are offered concessions on full price tickets only.

2. The Virgin half price hut is a must and can be found at the bottom of the Mound on Princes street. Unsold tickets are available here for same day shows and usually a good selection of shows for the next morning.

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photo@shutterstock

3. The fringe has an app  which also offers 2 for 1 tickets on selected shows or join the friends of the fringe and you get 2 for 1 deals.

You may think how much to join? However the Canny Scott shares the expense with a friend and you both get to try lots of different shows.

There are free shows daily on the Royal Mile and it is a great place to soak up the festival atmosphere. Many people are confused if they find themselves on the Canongate or High street or Castlehill or the Lawnmarket, these are the sections that make up the Royal Mile. The free shows tend to be on the section of St Giles Cathedral, one block down from Edinburgh Castle.

There are box offices across the city and you can collect your tickets from any of these locations. There are also many free street performers both on the Royal Mile and at the bottom of the Mound, next to Princes street Gardens. You can collect your tickets from Edinburgh Airport, card machine only from July 29th 2019 and Waverley train station. Waverley Mall will have a collection point from August 2nd. There are around 3o other collection points when the festival starts and the official box office Mon- Saturdays as of June 5th 2019.

 

Navigating the Shows – Timing is everything.  Okay on a map you might think, we have plenty of time to get to the Pleasance or the Underbelly.  Please, do not under estimate how much longer it takes when there are thousands of people milling through the streets of Edinburgh. It can be over whelming at times and I would urge you not to travel by car in the city centre. Parking is already at a premium and unless you have £3.80 an hour to spare for parking, then walk. The local buses hardly move with the volume of traffic.

Show times: The late shows go on until 3am and they can be really good fun if you are a night owl. These events tend to be at the Pleasance which is a fabulous venue, part of the University with outdoor bars, seating areas, food,  good atmosphere and plenty of shows on offer. The other popular venue is the Gilded Balloon Teviot, also part of Edinburgh University and a great location with lots of outdoor bars, and great taster shows and fun street performers.

Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019
Edinburgh Fringe@shutterstock

HOW MANY SHOWS IN A DAY?  How big is your wallet? How many people are travelling with you and what are the age groups?  Buggies and wheelchairs can be difficult to navigate through the huge crowds especially at the weekends. Children are usually early to rise, just get up and do early shows. Children will not want to spend all day traipsing through huge crowds so you will have to introduce some family ‘run about time’.

I would recommend Inverleith Park next to the Botanical gardens, then stroll into Stockbridge, plenty of cafe.  Princes street gardens is undergoing extensive renovation work but the far end of Princes street, near the Caledonia Hotel has a great climbing frame, swings etc, outdoor cafe and the the newly renovated Ross Fountain.

Princes street gardens in summer.Scotland.
Princes street gardens @shutterstock

Singletons and older people, it really depends on your preferences and fitness levels. Edinburgh is on a steep hill. There is considerable walking up and down hills. Navigating crowds and finding food & drink spots.

Can’t decide on which show? It is a minefield, take the easy option and go see a collection of performers, such as comedians. They have shows called the Best of Irish comedy or the Best Comedy new comers. This way if someone humour does not resonate with you, the next act might. There are usually 3 performers and you are bound to like one of them.  If you attend later in August the national papers post daily reviews, which is a big help.

Pace yourself, plan ahead, make a schedule, work out your nearest ticket collection point or just fly by the seat of your pants. Waverley station now has a ticket collection point which is fabulous if you arrive by train. It is easy to find,  next to the Balmoral Hotel on Princes street.

I  would normally only do 3 shows in a day due to the walking and crowds. Many of the fringe venues are in basements, small rooms and halls, they can get real hot due to lack of air conditioning so take this into consideration. Nights are cooler in some of these venues.IMG_4825

Dress attire/ safety. Wear comfortable clothes, good walking shoes, bring a cagoule, it will rain on and off. Bring a rucksack as you will be inundated with flyers from shows on the royal Mile or any big venue. If taking cameras, zip your bag to protect your wallets etc. Do not put wallets/purses near the top of a rucksack, make sure they are down at the bottom in case of ‘light fingers’ in the crowds. Can you see the mounted place officer is this photo? Thats how busy it gets!

Where to stay?

Accommodation Edinburgh 2019 Festival Fringe: Edinburgh is very popular for AIR BB as many families leave the city during the festival and let our their homes. Edinburgh University and others have empty halls of residence that are available to rent. Check out Universityrooms.com, accommodation.ed.ac.uk

Youth hostels are a great cheap option: St Christophers’s Inn or SYHA.ORG.UK or Euro-hostels.co.uk/edinburgh or hostel world.com/hostels/edinburgh. Their are camp sites and caravan sites http://www.caravanclub.co.uk .Cheap hotels: Travelodge, Ibis, Premier Inn, local guest houses and bed/breakfast. Luxury hotels in city centre see below.

Waldorf Astoria, Principle George Hotel, Carlton Highland, Hilton group, G&V Hotel, Witchery Hotel Royal Mile, Balmoral Hotel, Principle Charlotte Square. 

Transport: A normal journey into Edinburgh will take longer. If going or returning to the airport, consider the tram. It is not affected by roadworks, crowds or traffic accidents. It takes about 30 mins and has many stops throughout the city centre.

There is a Airlink bus direct from the airport and two train stations include Haymarket in the West End and the main station Waverley, beside Princes street gardens and Princes street.

Edinburgh has green priority transport lanes for buses and taxi. Cars cannot drive on these at peak times, tourists be aware – you may be fined.

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Photo@shutterstock

I hope this gives you a few starting points and things to consider. It really is a fantastic month.  Soak up the atmosphere, try a random show, change your usual genre, try something completely different.

P.S  If you have a favourite restaurant then book at least 3/4 weeks in advance. Watch my youtube video of my favourite places to see in Edinburgh. Half of them are completely free. Click on this link below. For your seating guide to the Military Tattoo, click here

For a list of free things and fun activities in Edinburgh click here.

Best of luck and thanks for your time. I appreciate it.

Lou A.

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