In my most pretentious opinion, there is only ONE place to be in August every year: when the beautiful city of Edinburgh explodes into an epicentre of theatre, comedy, music , dance, art, EVERYTHING.
So that’s where I’ll be, in only a couple days time: crammed on to a packed train embarking from Kings Cross to the stunning Scottish capital. For me this journey is as exciting as the journey from platform 9 ¾ (yes I have seen the plaque and will take time out of the stressful time at the station to take a picture of myself with it, I’ll add it to the collection)
The fringe is something I can’t recommend enough to any student interested in the arts. If you want to see some of the best and sometimes undiscovered theatre or entertainment for a cheap price (most of the time) then this is the place to be. This is the place that started the careers of some of the most successful comedians in the UK: Eddie Izzard, Fry and Laurie, Sue Perkins, even New Zealand got a look-in and gave us the mighty Flight of the Conchords. THANKS FRINGE!
This will be my fourth fringe year. Four years ago, at the age of 17 I got my first taste of independence and came to Edinburgh with some friends, booked into a cheap hostel for a few nights having made sure that I’d reserved tickets for the best shows on the fringe website (top tip number 1) and had the best time. Edinburgh is my happy place, which sounds like something I whisper to myself while crying in the foetal position. I mean it in the sense that some of my happiest moments have been in that city, specifically during the fringe. My friends and I did this tourist routine for two years consecutively, and we picked up a few must-do’s on the way.
Firstly, it’s a bit lame to go to the fringe on your own (as in without parents) if you’re under 18. One of the great things about Edinburgh is its night life and during the month of August there’s EVEN MORE on offer. There’s nothing like a night in the Pleasance Courtyard or Dome, having a pint and a pancake in the Udderbelly garden or dancing like a lunatic in C venues. Please be at least 18 when you try the fringe (I appreciate that I’m talking to students so that’s definitely an assumed thing, but you never know.) When we went at the age of 17 we managed to find a Starbucks on the Royal Mile (still a cherished place of mine) that stayed open until the early hours, so we rocked it like old school jazz artists and got “wasted” on coffee and hot chocolates. If you’re not into the drinking scene then there are PLENTY of coffee shops like this that will accommodate you and your late night conversations.
Secondly, be forgiving to some of the shows that you see (unless you’ve paid a ridiculous amount of money, which seems unlikely). Most of these shows are low budget and can be very amateurish: there’s so much on offer at the fringe you’re bound to get a dodgy one. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should dismiss any “shoddy” looking show that’s advertised to you on the Royal Mile. You can occasionally get real gems full of untapped talent. Remember it takes just one good review to make that show a sell out so get in there quick! Try everything!
Last year I stopped being a tourist and started being a participant, working in one of the venues as Front of House. This was the best way to be in the fringe for the whole month, meet lots of people and also get great work experience. And that’s where I’ll be in a couple of days again. Any August, if you’re looking for me or any young (or even old) people with a passion for the arts, then you’ll probably find us at the fringe. Be there or miss out: each year is different.