We don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but if you don’t come prepared then the Edinburgh Festival Fringe can take you by surprise.
(On the other hand, being taken by surprise is maybe exactly what you want at the planet’s single greatest celebration of arts and culture, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .)
Still, if you’re the sort that likes to double-knot your laces and kick the tyres before you leave home, you might find the following tips handy.
We know we just said you need to be prepped for the Fringe, but there is such a thing as being over-prepped. By all means, attack the programme with marker pens, make a colour-coded spreadsheet and add a couple dozen shows to your ‘Favourites’ list on the website (see above). Just remember to leave yourself a bit of space for spontaneity – when the reviews start rolling in for those must-see shows, or a preview on the Royal Mile takes you by surprise, you’ll want some room in your schedule to accommodate them.
Bring a portable phone charger
Whether you regard your phone as the light of your life or the bane of your existence, by now it’s probably pretty much essential to your day-to-day activities. Between checking the time, mapping your way around town, playing our FringeMaker game and browsing the Fringe App for nearby shows, you’ll want to keep your device fully powered. It’s not the most glamorous advice in the world, but you’ll thank us later.
It’s my brilliant flatmate’s first edfringe as a performer so I just presented her with the ultimate fringe survival kit (gaffa, preloaded mini stapler, sharpie, pins, fancy tea, good chocolate, mini dry shampoo, hair mask, airwaves chewing gum, tissues.) Look after her, y’hear?— Beth (@Beth_O_B) July 28, 2018
This one’s mainly for participants putting on a show, but audience members should take heed as well: make yourself comfortable. If you have a favourite pillow, bring it with you. If there’s a particular song or album that puts you in a good mood, have that playlist saved. The Fringe is full of thrills and excitement that will challenge your expectations and push you out of your comfort zone – and that’s a good thing – but you’ve got to balance it with stuff that makes you feel ‘you’.
Sunscreen and ponchos
Like many parts of the UK, Scotland’s capital city can be one of those ‘four seasons in a day’ places – while locals might be surprised to see snow in August, we’d also quickly shrug it off as ‘typical Edinburgh’. So, pack something warm and something waterproof in addition to your shorts and shades (because honestly, it’s just as likely to be blazing hot too), not to mention some sensible footwear for those steep, cobbly sidestreets. Oh, and don’t bother with an umbrella – aside from being a massive eye-poking hindrance in a busy street full of tourists, it’ll also get turned inside out by one of Edinburgh’s infamously strong breezes.
Take a break
you are only human - take some time off from seeing/ being in/ working on shows, eat better, drink more water/ less alcohol, climb Arthur's Seat. #AdviceForLifeNotJustForTheFringe— Laura Drane (@laurahd) February 1, 2019
This might sound counterintuitive (especially coming from the organisation in charge of bigging up the Fringe), but taking short breaks from the festival is the best way to sustain your overall enjoyment of it, so make sure you check out some of Edinburgh’s more peaceful spots while you’re here. Arthur’s Seat is gorgeous but incredibly popular with tourists, so have a wander round the calmer Calton Hill or through the Royal Botanic Gardens instead; you can even catch a quick bus down to the seaside at Portobello beach and feel the sand between your toes. You won’t regret it.