For Festival Newbies ...
This website hopefully contains useful information
Edinburgh and its August
festivals for all fellow punters, both established and new. It
should be particularly helpful to those who are trying the festival for
the first time. However, beware all you newbies - you may get hooked!
The sections below provide some introductory
information, including links to articles on other websites.
will provide you with full details of what you can find on this
particular website. In
summary, far and away the most popular page here is A History of the Edinburgh
Festivals. This is followed in the run up to the festivals by
which includes links to articles on previews and recommendations across
the media which will hopefully help you to make your choice of shows.
of the festival
To get a flavour of the effect that Edinburgh can
have on punters and artists alike, read ...
... or take a look at our
light-hearted experiences over the years or browse the info
on some of our favourite
of treading the boards?
Arguably, the most comprehensive guidance for
would-be participants is Mark Fisher's excellent book, The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide,
which was published in early 2012. It covers all aspects of putting a
show on from the interesting artistic aspects to the boring
bureaucratic but essential elements. He followed this up by running a
successful show at the 2012 Fringe which featured guests from all areas
of the Fringe who were each able to relate their experiences. Audio
recordings of these shows are available on Mark's website.
The Fringe Society provides a number of guides
which can be downloaded ... The
Fringe Guide to Doing a Show, The
Fringe Guide to Selling a Show, Choosing
a Venue and Registering
Fringe Society also runs a number of roadshows around January and
February each year. They are part guidance and part PR and marketing.
help punters and performers with their visit ... for starters there are
over 2,000 shows for punters to choose from - and that is just on the
Fringe ... there are a range of short and sharp guides on various
you are looking for something meatier then you can try my stuff on Choosing Shows
or Food, Drink and Getting Around.
if you are interested in the beautiful city itself
here is a potted history
of "Auld Reekie" as Edinburgh is affectionately known.
the exception of the Edinburgh Fringe your choice of shows / events
should be fairly straightforward, typically being driven by your
personal tastes, possibly along with some recommendations from the
However, the Fringe is a totally different ballgame. In 2012 there were
some 2,695 shows to choose from, and the terse, sometimes misleading,
descriptions in the Fringe programme brochure (which are limited to 400
characters) are not much help.
If you are the sort that prefers to make
off-the-cuff decisions then
you will probably wait until you get to Edinburgh and rely on "the word
on the street" and reviews.
If you are a bit of a planner by nature you may prefer to make a start
in June or July, possibly wishing to book some shows at that time if
you suspect that some may sell out before the festival starts or, if
you are not a local, you do not want to spend time queueing for tickets
as soon as you arrive in Edinburgh.
It varies from year to year but some recommendations from the critics
usually start to appear in June with the pace increasing rapidly as the
end of July nears.
There are many media outlets that cover the festival - see my links page for a
list. If you want some recommendations try The
Guardian, The Scotsman, The
Herald, The List and WhatsonStage.com
for their thoughts on the likely top shows. I try to provide links to
articles that contain recommendations on the pre-festival stuff page.
When the Fringe gets going reviews will appear thick and fast, only
slowing down in the middle of the final week. The quality of reviews
varies widely and indeed it has been the subject of some fierce debate.
I leave it to you to decide on which reviewers you have sufficient
Arguably the best source of information, particularly if you are
undecided on a specific show, is the ubiquitous "word on the street",
i.e. the views of fellow punters in the place where you are staying, in
the queue for a show, in the seat next to you, in the bar ... et cetera.
If you are cramming shows in (4, 5 or more per day) then make sure that
you can get to the next venue in time for the performance. Try to allow
some contingency. Sods Law says that it will be the occasion where you
have no contingency that the previous show will overrun.
If you want to browse the full nerd's guide to choosing shows then here it is.
if you are only coming to the festival for a day or two and do not have
the time or inclination to produce your own itinerary, and you are
prepared to go with somebody else's choices, then you can pay for
somebody to produce one for you. Culturepie is one provider of such a service.