UniversityRooms | Travel Inspiration - Beginner's Guide To The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
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The Edinburgh Fringe Festival Guide For Newcomers!

Since 1947 the Edinburgh Festival has occurred every August becoming the world's largest arts festival. In 2016, there were over 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows in 294 venues over 25 days. Phew! This is one big festival – a reallybig festival! Often referred to as 'The Fringe', this festival incorporates every aspect of performing arts you can possibly imagine. From comedy (which it is famed for), theatre, dance, circus, cabaret, children's shows, musicals, opera, spoken word, exhibitions .... the list is virtually limitless. As an event, this is one of the world's greatest.

So how do you begin to choose what to do?

Choice is either wonderful or utterly bewildering if you have no idea of where to start and what to look for.  And for a festival of this size, you are quite unusual if you don't find the thought of navigating your way around a tad daunting. 

Firstly, begin by spending time looking at the official website. It's a well-thought-out site and the best place to begin considering how to comprehend such a vast event.

Pre-order the programme and, like a horse race, study the form! Tick off the acts that initially interest you and research the ones which intrigue you. Try and keep an open mind - the festival is there to be enjoyed but to also break down boundaries, broaden our knowledge, remove us from our comfort zone and therefore develop us further as individuals. Try one new thing which you have never previously experienced - you won't be alone and may well walk away surprised and impressed. But do your research first - you don't want to waste your time with acts you know you won't enjoy.

Ask friends who have already visited the festival and use forums - there's several online and all of them offer great advice and tips - these are the Yoda's amongst Fringe virgins - so learn from the best and use their knowledge!


Do not try to do all the festival. Mainly because you will fail. Three to five shows a day is plenty, anymore and your brain will turn into a soggy lump of haggis. Try and spend some time just sitting and soaking up this truly unique atmosphere instead of running around like a crazed loon trying to see and experience everything. Firstly, that's just impossible, no one can truly see every part of the festival and secondly, you will miss out on so much if this is how you spend your time in Edinburgh. Give yourself the opportunity to kick back, enjoy the amazing food stalls and talk to people -  you will find out a lot more of what is going on if you take the time to communicate to fellow festival goers.

Four Seasons In One Day

I don't think Crowded House wrote this song purely about Scottish weather - but you'd be forgiven for thinking they had. The saying in Edinburgh is there's no such thing as bad weather - just the wrong clothes. Stick with this sage proverb - and essentially think 'survival'. Layers and Gore-Tex are a necessity to prevent either frostbite or prolific sweating the minute you leave the outdoor queues and hit the smaller indoor venues aka - sweat boxes.  Trousers whose legs can be zipped off in a trice and turned into shorts are brilliant. Layers that can be removed or added at will are essential and naturally a jumper and raincoat - you are in Scotland! Lastly, a large rucksack to carry all of these items around in when the temperatures suddenly become tropical.  

And finally, where to sleep once you've had enough!

Accommodation in Edinburgh gets booked up quickly for the month of August.

According to Hospitality and Catering News, September 2016, 'The resulting overall Average Room Rate (ARR) was £181.96 which marked the highest ARR Edinburgh figure on record since LJ Forecaster monitoring began over 10 years ago'

There are a lot of options and again, consult forums from people who have stayed in the city during the festival previously. Also, think outside of the box (it is the festival after all!) instead of limiting yourself to hostels or faceless, overpriced hotel rooms - try the universities.

All universities now rent their rooms when the students are not in residence during the holidays. Perfect for the festival. And don't panic - the rooms are not squalid nasty-looking holes. These are rather lush looking spaces complete with ensuites! offer three colleges to stay in Edinburgh during August. These are all city central with prices starting from just £36 a night.

Choose from:

Baird House, Edinburgh

Masson House

Chancellor's Court