There has to be a reason why I’ve returned year-on-year for more than a decade, and it’s not just because it’s a great reason to catch up with my oldest friend.
1. The Location: No-one can deny that the city of Edinburgh is absolutely stunning. With its incredible architecture, history and monuments, not to mention the castle, you’ll find that your visit leaves you with neck-ache. Given we attend primarily for the comedy, all of this beauty is a major bonus!
2. The Intimate Venues: I have always and will always believe that comedy and arenas do NOT mix. I can completely appreciate why a comedian would do it, but to do so loses a lot of the soul that comes with this superb medium. Not so in Edinburgh. With so many shows playing daily, everywhere becomes a venue: the theatres and conference centres (naturally), but also the lecture theatres, the student unions, the pubs, the gymnasiums and any green space big enough for a shipping container.
3. The Street Theatre: Okay, so you might not actually be able to get anywhere in the city without a delay of about 50 minutes, be it due to the crowds converged around the fire breathing juggler or because you get distracted by the half naked mime, but prepare yourself for journeys between venues that take ten times longer than you expected!
4. Finding New Comedy: Although I never saw John Bishop in the aptly named ‘The Hut’, we did get to see him several years before most of Great Britain. If you don’t want to risk an hour of awkwardness, get yourself to a compilation show where, if you’re lucky, you’ll be exposed to plenty of up-and-comers.
5. The Food: Aside from the fact that Edinburgh is jam packed with a vast array of superb and permanent dining facilities, the Fringe means that you’ll get to also enjoy more street food than you can try in several years-worth of visits. Whether you have a penchant for pulled pork of a whimsy for waffles, you’ll find it here.
Not to mention the haggis, square sausage, tatty scones and deep fried everything.
6. The Price: Whist the price of accommodation sky rockets (we kept costs down this year by camping near the airport and commuting in), you’ll find some real bargains in terms of entertainment. Most shows will set you back between £5-15, so you can afford to fit in several a day! We were able to see Russell Howard and Steve Williams for a meagre £5 this year, in a venue that seated less than 200. As the Fringe is often a springboard for a national tour, you get a cheaper price as the guinea pigs that new material is tested out on. Student discounts are also available for most shows and the earlier in the run you go, the cheaper you’ll find it.
7. The Obscure to the Sublime: If you can imagine it, you can find it here. If you can’t find it here, you can create and perform it! We overheard a guy talking about his one man show portraying himself as a fly, attended [Game of] Thrones! The Musical and my favourite show of the run was ‘Hyprov’: a combination of hypnotism and comedy improv, where members of the audience were hypnotised before performing, inhibitions gone, alongside the brilliant Colin Mochrie.
8. The Home to Hogwarts: Looking around the stunning architecture of Edinburgh, it’s not hard to see where Rowling got her inspiration for the heart of her stories. From the University buildings to the Old Parliament buildings, hints of the School for Witchcraft and Wizardry abound.
We even found Dumbledore:
And this beauty was on the Royal Mile collecting for a local bird sanctuary.
9. The Proximity to Other Adventures: Although in previous visits, we’ve crammed in as much comedy as we can, this year we were able to visit a myriad of attractions in the vicinity. Only a short walk away is Arthur’s Seat, an amazing green space (especially within a capital city) and you even have the beach within your sights. Less than an hours drive will see you in Glasgow and slightly above is the beautiful Loch Lomond. We also enjoyed a day trip to the Isle of May (from Anstruther), a trip to St. Monans Jetty in Fife and enjoyed the industrial marvel that is the Forth Bridge.
10. The Trial and Error: With such an array of free and cheap shows, you’ll never be stuck for something to do: okay, it might be terrible, but at worst you’ve wasted 60 minutes and at best you’ve discovered your new favourite comedian/comedienne/play/theatre company (delete as appropriate).