Yes the Fringe can be expensive but there’s lots of ways to enjoy the fringe at low cost or for free. There’s no excuse not to get out there and experience just how wonderful Edinburgh in August can be!
1. Join the Friends of the Fringe – If you are a culture vulture and intend seeing lots of shows, become a Friend of the Fringe. For £32, it’ll entitle you to a load of benefits, including 2 for 1 tickets, priority telephone booking line, exclusive Friends box office and lots more. So find a friend and share the cost. You’ll reap the rewards in no time.
2. Take advantage of the previews – The Fringe doesn’t officially start until Friday 3 August but many of the shows offer discounted previews from as early as Wednesday 1 August. Check out the Fringe programme for more details. And on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 August, many of the shows are 2 for 1.
3. Loiter with intent – If you hang around some of the big venues on the preview days, you might even score yourself some freebies. Many promoters and acts are keen to get “bums on seats” in the early performances and can often be found offering free tickets to people lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
4. Edinburgh Food Festival – Ok, so this one isn’t technically part of the Fringe but occurs earlier from 25 – 29 July. Take advantage of the fact that the lovely guys at Assembly have already built their venue at George Square Gardens and join in the free Edinburgh Food Festival. With quality Scottish food at the heart of it, the festival is a fantastic introduction for visitors to see just a soupçon of what Scotland’s larder has to offer.
The free Festival welcomes visitors of all ages to George Square Gardens, with stallholders offering everything from Alandas Gelato and Fish & Chips (East Lothian) to Jarvis Pickle pies (Berwickshire) and Chick & Pea street food (Edinburgh). Quenching thirsts throughout the five days are a selection of popular drinks brands, including Fyne Ales from Argyll.
5. More free shows – Various promoters run free events, including the original PBH’s Free Fringe. Laughing Horse’s Free Festival has new shows, new venues and a new logo! This year their shows run from 29 July to 26 August at various venues across Edinburgh. The first few days are their kids’ festival, with the full programme starting 2 August.
The year they have a record-breaking 9,237 performances, 402 shows at 25 venues, with more award nominated shows appearing, top name comedians, the best in theatre, cabaret and children’s shows from all over the world including the Fringe’s smallest venue, and the only Fringe show entirely in Japanese.
7. Get value from your licence fee – The @BBCEdFest brings the best of the Festival to people in Edinburgh and elsewhere in the Big Tent in the grounds of George Heriot’s school. You do need a ticket to enter the events and you may have missed out on the ballot, but hang around this venue and you will often find they have some returns or more tickets available for the day. Just ask at the information desk
8. It’s not all about comedy – There’s so much more to do, from walking tours to exhibitions. If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, try the Potter Trail, a walking tour of Edinburgh. If history is more your thing, Royal Mile Tours offers a historical walking tour around Edinburgh’s world-famous Old Town and if you want to release your inner dancing diva, join in with Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tours. Spontaneous flash mobs through the streets, interpretative dance around local landmarks, group singing and lots of fun interaction with onlookers will have your cheeks hurting from laughing so much.
9. Picture this – And if art and photography is your thing, take in one of the many free exhibitions. Top favourites include: Steve Ullathorne’s Annual Photo Fest at the Gilded Balloon; The World Press Photos at the Scottish Parliament, 1 – 25 August. And don’t forget the Edinburgh Art Festival, which takes place from 26 July – 26 August.
10. Walk the walk – Whilst a daily or weekly Ridacard bus pass is a good option during the Fringe, an even cheaper and often quicker solution is to walk. Just think how many steps you’ll notch up on your fitness tracker too.
As you can see, if you’re canny, experiencing the Fringe doesn’t need to cost the earth. Leap #intotheunknown and enjoy yourselves.