Monday, 29 August 2016

10 Tips for Surviving the Edinburgh Festival

I know it's all just finished for another year but, trust me, if you're thinking of tackling the Edinburgh Festival it's good to plan in advance.  This is our third festival - we even honeymooned there - and each time we approached it a little differently.  Here's what we've learned...

1. Pace yourself - it's a marathon not a sprint.  Everywhere you look there are exciting things to see and do and you really can't do everything.  Don't blow your party wad on day 1 and spend the rest of your time playing catch up.

2.  Check your venue timings and locations carefully when you book.  The worst thing to see at the festival is people leaving a gig 5 minutes before the end because they have another gig to get to.  Not all the venues are next to each other so check them out on a map beforehand and allow yourself time to get between sites.

3.  Take chances.  We all know what we like but this is the perfect time to try something different and it doesn't have to cost the earth - check out the half price hut where you can buy tickets for that day and take a punt on something you wouldn't normally consider seeing.  We've discovered some amazing performances this way and have only had one or two let downs.

4. Check out the Free Fringe.  There is TONS of free stuff to see - most of it is on a "put something into the hat at the end" arrangement.  Some is indoors and there's loads of free street theatre - it's a great place to spot potential stars of the future or just enjoy the colour and banter of the street performers.

5. Drink responsibly.  No, I'm not coming over all sanctimonious - just think where you drink.  The drinks are eye wateringly expensive (over £5 per pint!) at the main venues so stick to smaller local pubs or pack a hip flask.  

6. Go sightseeing.  Edinburgh isn't just about the festival, there are tons of other amazing things to see there too.  Take a walk around Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat, explore the castle or go on a ghost walk.  There are lots of tourist traps but it's still a beautiful old city with loads of hidden corners to discover.

Greyfriars Bobby

7. Think about your accommodation and book WELL in advance.  Seriously, it's worse than Bethlehem at Christmas.  We've done a B&B, a privately rented flat on the outskirts and this time we took Delores and stayed at Mortonhall campsite.Don't feel you have to pay through the nose to stay in the city centre - there are much cheaper places a little way out which brings me to...

Mortonhall Campsite
8.  Use the buses.  Honestly, they're brilliant.  Check out the Lothian Buses website for all the info you need.  They also have a superb app allowing you to plan your routes around the city.  We were there for a week so bought a Ridacard which saved us tons.  They run all through the night too so you can get home after even the latest of gigs.

View from our bus stop
9. Dress appropriately.  We were so lucky this year, it was warm and sunny for the entire week of the festival, but it's not always that way so make sure you're ready for anything. Also get something decent on your feet - there's a LOT of walking involved and, basically, Edinburgh is one giant cobbled hill (though it was rather fun watching a few of the drunk ladies trying to walk across cobbles in stilettos...)  I was trying out a pair of sports shoes from Columbia Sportswear and they were excellent - light, bright and waterproof!

Utterly brilliant wherever they went
10.  Pack a rucksack.  Yeah, I know this one maybe sounds a bit dull, but the rucksack allowed us to take drinks and snacks (we weren't on a mega tight budget but 7 days of eating out would have put a serious dent in the bank balance!)  We packed snacks and waterproofs - I was using a bright and breezy Columbia jacket which was soft and light and easily packed into the bottom of my bag.  I didn't need it to keep the rain off but it was handy for keeping me warm on the night bus "home".

Hope those have helped in some small way - we'll definitely be back again - I just need to sleep this one off first - cheers!

Cool shades, cool tent, cool beer and very cool Tshirt from Columbia.

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