When? 6–31 August
Where? Edinburgh, Scotland
What? A million people throng the steep streets of Edinburgh to celebrate music, theatre and comedy at the world’s biggest arts festival.
Style Before they were famous
Setting Athens of the north
IN THE KNOW
Head count Around a million people attend the Fringe over the course of August.
Packing tips Anything goes, so if you have an outlandish outfit that needs an airing, this is the place for it. Otherwise, take sensible shoes (for the cobbles) and a map to help you keep track of the 250-plus venues.
Bar chat If you were to watch every single performance at the festival back to back, it would take around five years, 11 months and 16 days.
DOs & DON’Ts
• Read The Scotsman – this has the best coverage and reviews and is an indispensable guide to a Fringe Festival stay.
• Visit the Half-Price Hut on Princes Mall. This open-all-day box office sells half-price tickets for a selection of performances on the day.
• Buy a ticket for something or someone you’ve never heard of. Many of the real gems come from complete unknowns, and it’s worth taking the risk.
• Climb the Scott Monument. This gothic memorial to the great Ivanhoe author has 287 narrow winding steps, but it’s worth every one when you see the glorious view from the top.
NEED TO KNOW
Getting there Edinburgh is well served by national and international flights, though getting the train will enable you to arrive right in the heart of the action – and it’s a gorgeous journey along the northeast coast.
Child-friendly? Kids love the colour and vibrancy of the festival and there are plenty of shows specially for them. Venues such as the Pleasance (0131 556 6550) run programmes for juniors that include acrobatics, drama, magic and the chance to participate.
Parking Temporary traffic regulations are in place so avoid driving into the city, particularly round the Royal Mile. Most locations are within walking distance of each other.
Edinburgh food & drink Many of the venues are in bars and cafés, or in theatres that have their own restaurants attached, so you won’t go hungry, and there are stalls dotted around selling the usual street food, too. However, for restaurant dining, we love the elegant but ethical food at The Iglu (0131 476 5333) and the more salubrious surrounds of The Witchery (0131 225 5613), both of which are well-placed for the action. Restaurant with rooms 21212 (above right) is a foodie favourite; don’t forget to make a restaurant reservation when you book a room! If you just want to escape the masses, head out of town to Restaurant Martin Wishart (0131 553 3557), the much-lauded Michelin-starrer in Leith that showcases the best of Scottish seafood, game and beef. For more ideas, check out our Edinburgh restaurant & bar guide.
Sleep Avoid the mayhem around the Royal Mile at Rick’s, a sleek, calm bar with rooms on Frederick Street. More central is Tigerlily (left), a glamorous design den with an inviting bar, or the endearingly eccentric and grand Ardmor House. Technicolor dreamboat the Hotel Missoni is right on the Royal Mile and earns its hotel stripes with bold interiors and stylish service.