The Ultimate Edinburgh Fringe Festival Survival Guide

How to Survive The Fringe

The Edinburgh Fringe has now hit the halfway point.  At this stage, whilst the tourists enthusiasm perseveres, fuelled by whiskey and an undying (and much appreciated) love for everything Scottish, for those of us condemned to live our normal, boring lives amongst the endless festival atmosphere, it is perhaps starting to be a bit wearing.   Trying to do your normal, everyday activities during the Fringe is like doing your laundry / accounts / mind-numbing work / Netflix / grocery shopping in the middle of a circus tent, surrounded by trapeze artists, guys on stilts, immobile Yodas and contortionists – it’s a bit difficult to concentrate.

So what do you do when it all gets that bit too much?  We thought we’d pull together the ultimate Edinburgh Fringe survival guide to help you get through this.

Get a bike bell

Or better yet, a soothing fog horn.  Not for your bike you understand, just for you to have on your person.  Attach it to your handbag or coat and you’re ready to step out onto the street, safe in the knowledge that you will be able to warn any relaxed, ambling tourists (who have for reasons known to no-one decided to come out and start sightseeing during rush hour) of the fact that you’re about to bear down on them, propelled by your usual, 8am “I’m late for work” pace.

Imagine how jolly the city centre will be when the sounds of frantic “EXCUSE ME!! Pardon et moi errrrr  Scusami?!!! Oh just MOVE” are replace by the gentle tinkling of a bell and the polite parting of tourist throngs.


We’re Scottish.  We love to be polite and help people.  But it is not in any way shameful to admit that, after 3 weeks of being asked for directions to an obscure Fringe venue several times on one street, requests for help can get a bit bothersome.  As your responses come through increasingly gritted teeth, you may start to wonder if there’s perhaps a way to avoid these inevitable punctuation marks to your journey.  Never fear! We have the solution for you!

Purchase a Nikon – preferably the latest model but a cheap knock off may do, to carry off the subterfuge – and clutch a map firmly in front of you as a shield.  That way, having given you a once over and assured themselves that you’re as clueless about where you are and where you’re trying to get to, any tourist will give you a wide, sympathetic berth and look for someone who looks more with it.  Problem solved

Don’t be sucked in

As the vortex that is the Fringe Festival swirls around the city, you may be tempted to go out and “Do the Fringe” at least once.  DON’T!  You will regret it before you’ve hit the queue at the Virgin Half Price Hut.  You will battle to the front having eventually figured out which of the 3,458 shows to see, struggle to one of the 317 venues to sit through a monologue on  how to use cutlery safely (Accident Avoidance Training For Cutlery Users) in a venue filled to the brim with people who have been hiking around Edinburgh all day and are sweaty / wet / flatulent due to too much of the Scottish cuisine / all of the above and no air-conditioning.  You’ll sit there, nursing your lukewarm beer, served in a plastic pint glass, for which you’ve paid the equivalent of a week’s grocery budget and will wait until the bitter end.  You’ll leave the venue – bemused and wondering whether you’re just not intelligent enough to understand the genius of the show – before fighting back through the throngs to find somewhere to eat.  At which point you will inevitably realise that every table, in every restaurant has been booked for the whole month of August.  Hungry, tired, full of self-doubt, you’ll crawl back to the safety of your abode to the tune of angry bus / tram / taxi drivers frantically tooting their horns at tourists who’ve stepped into the road to take that perfect picture of the castle and sit in a corner or your bedroom, gently rocking backwards and forwards, telling yourself that this will all be over soon.

First rule of the Fringe – do not, under any circumstance engage with the Fringe.

Go to the Starbar, have a pint and wait for all this to blow over

Let’s face it, we do love the Fringe, tourist or local, because it puts our wee, frequently underrated city, on the map and it’s great to see others enjoying it as much as we do year-round.  We can all agree that for Edinburgh residents, it’s tough living through the festival – it must be much the same for the residents of Benidorm / Ibiza / Mallorca when we descend on them during our holidays, desperate to let of some steam and have a cheap pint or two (or twenty) – and yet its’ positives far outweigh any inconvenience we may suffer during the 25 day period.

So if you need a haven, a base of relative sanity, away from the madness of it all, where you can vent about how long it took you to walk from one end of Princes Street to the other, over a pint of cheap, cold beer in a safe space – we’re your man.  It’ll all be over soon enough but until then set up camp at the Star Bar – whether you’re a stilt walker wanting to rest your weary legs; a contortionist looking to unwind; a Yoda who’s force has been weakened by the constant pissing rain and kids pulling at your robes or simply an aggravated resident, come on down to your local, friendly dive bar.  Try our juke box, get a free hug from our skeleton, play some foos, sit in the beer garden

And relax.

Leave a Reply