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A Survival Guide To Edinburgh Fringe

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An all important list of tips to surviving the world’s biggest art festival.

This year, for the first time, Rife went to Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was weird and mad and great. However, I couldn’t help but feel I could have done with a few survival tips before I went. To help future first time Fringe-ers, I looked back at my own experiences and spoke to other people at the festival to comprise this seven part survival guide to Edinburgh Festival Fringe (I know, I’m a martyr). I learnt the hard way. Learn from my mistakes, folks.

1. Be Rich Or Learn How To Budget

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General good lesson for life, somehow seems to apply even more at Fringe. You will get thirsty. You will get hungry. Presumably, as you have travelled to the biggest arts festival in the world, you will want to see shows. Taxis, tickets, tequila shots; the cost of those little… necessities… will begin to stack up, and before you know it you’re spending 200 pounds a day. If you don’t want to blow all of your money in the first 72 hours and live off lentils for the next week, I’d recommend you make a plan. Eat and drink at home to save valuable funds, and take a packed lunch with you if you’re out for the day. Withdraw a set amount of cash each morning and then, if you are the easily tempted type, leave your card at home. Give it to your mate to look after. Whatever, just don’t wake up penniless realising you bought a pint for half of Edinburgh last night.

2. Don’t Get FOMO

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, showcasing over 3000 shows in less than a month. Hundreds of venues and thousands of performers share theatre, music, dance, comedy, circus, cabaret, poetry, opera, and more. Realistically you’re not going to be able to see everything, even if you’re there for the whole festival. Don’t stress about it, see what you can, and enjoy it. Relax. The brain can only handle so many viewings of ‘A Young Man Dressed as a Gorilla Dressed as an Old Man Sits Rocking in a Rocking Chair for 56 Minutes and Then Leaves…’ (yes, that is an actual show).

3. Plan What Shows You’re Going To See

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I’ll stress again: there’s a lot going on. Whilst wandering around venues and seeing what you stumble upon can be fun, you’re likely to end up sitting through some pretty bad stuff. I’m not suggesting you timetable the whole trip and suck the spontaneity out of everything, but looking up the shows you want to watch and creating a rough itinerary will allow you to get the most out of your trip.

4. Take A Break

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Travelling round a new place with lots of people and general busy-ness will rinse you of energy. With so much going on around you all the time, it’s easy to go hard too soon and burn out. When making your rough itinerary, make sure you’re not cramming in the shows every day and are allowing plenty of time to chill out. A well deserved cuppa and a nap will do both your mind and body lots of good.

5. Get Used To Being Uncomfortable Pretty Much All Of The Time

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I mean, this is partly why it’s important to rest. Fringe is great and all that, but realistically, sleeping on someone’s sofa and trying to navigate a city amongst huge crowds of people isn’t the most soothing of experiences. It’s probably not going to be like your five star all inclusive break in Hawaii. But please, don’t let me deter you; just be prepared.

6. Carry A Phone, Map, Or Other Navigational Device

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Not getting lost makes the whole experience a lot less stressful. Keep your phone charged with your ‘maps’ app honourably awaiting service to avoid rolling into shows late and flustered after walking for 20 minutes in the wrong direction. And if you do find yourself deep into an unknown realm of Scotland, with your phone in your pocket you can always grab a taxi.

7. Talk To The Locals For Great Insights

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Who’s going to give better advice on surviving Fringe than yours truly? Someone who is a full time resident of Edinburgh. Chat to the locals to find out the best places to eat and drink, what shows are great, and how to easily get around. Eat some haggis. Soak up that Scottish culture. Good luck fringe-ing.

Do you have any top tips for surviving Fringe? Get in touch at @rifemag

If you’ve been inspired by Edinburgh Festival Fringe and want to get creative yourself, check out the Creative Hub