Well, if you’re coming to Edinburgh in August you probably know that it’s the time of Edinburgh Festival (which includes many Festivals; the most famous of those are Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh International Festival).
And Edinburgh will be really crowded! (you might even have difficulties walking on the streets because of so many people! Of course, I’m a bit exaggerating, but generally, it’s true). So here are things you need to know before coming to Edinburgh Festivals!
– Book your accommodation in advance!
Well, I’m probably gonna write a separate post about finding accommodation during Edinburgh Festival. (because this topic definitely requires a separate post!). It’s still 4 months before the Festival but 89% of properties on Booking.com are already fully booked. So you need to book a hotel at least in January if you want to get a nice price and a hotel in a good location.
There are plenty of other options e.g. flat share & short term university accommodation rentals. So if you want to stay on budget, it makes sense to check Gumtree for some good deals.
– Book your flights in advance
The prices for flights rocket almost as much as the hotel prices. It’s especially true about Ryanair, Easyjet, and other budget airlines, so try to buy tickets as soon as you decided to attend the festivals.
– Be ready to pay 20-35% more for your meals
Just as any other services in Edinburgh, almost all the restaurants, and cafes in Edinburgh city centre raise their prices by 20-35%! (That doesn’t affect huge chains like Starbucks and McDonalds and big supermarkets). Just an example from everyday life: the Bratwurst Stalls in front of the University of Edinburgh was always selling the small Bratwurst for £3.75 (I was their loyal customer all year long), but during the festivals they have increased their price to 4+ pounds (As far as I remember, around 4.5 pounds).
– You can visit some plays for free if you arrive early
It’s worth visiting Edinburgh Festivals 1-3 days before their official start. Why? Because you can visit some of the most wanted performances for free! Usually, they have 1-2-3 rehearsals before they start changing money for their plays, and giving out tickets for free! How to get those tickets? Just check online, when the rehearsals are (don’t buy tickets online! It’s almost never written on the website that some tickets will be given away for free) and go to the Pleasance or George Square (or even Colgate) on that day (preferably around 5-6pm) and listen to the Festival volunteers carefully or just ask them about free tickets.
– There are many free plays you can attend during the Festivals
Just listen to the promoters and grab all the papers they give away on the streets: you might actually discover a “hidden gem” among the plays.
– Check the reviews for the paid performances
Because you might end up paying a lot for something you won’t enjoy. Usually, there are plenty of reviews available online, so better check that before buying the tickets.
– Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh International Festival are two absolutely different festivals
Even though they are running almost at the same time, these festivals are as different as day and night. While Edinburgh International Festival is all about art and culture: ballet, opera, orchestral music and theatre plays, where only professionals perform, Edinburgh Fringe festival is more informal. It mostly consists of comedy shows run by amateurs.
However, in Edinburgh, there are tons of festivals (not just EIF and Fringe). Check the article by Dan Flying Solo for more information: