For one month over August every year Edinburgh bursts into artistic bloom with the Fringe Festival. As part of my 25 aims for my 25th year I wanted to head to this beautiful city and catch as much of the action as possible.
The Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival. It was established in 1947 as an alternative to the more expensive and selective Edinburgh International Festival. The Fringe celebrates all types of art from dance and music to comedy, plays and poetry. Any performer or performance may participate; there is no selection committee. Because of this, practically every coffee shop, basement, front living room and other random space in the city is transformed into a venue of sorts. On offer are performances dreamed up by those hoping to make it big. As such the tickets are very affordable (anything from free to about £15).
Tip: head to the half price hut off Princes Street for daily bargains.
I spent the August bank holiday weekend soaking up the atmosphere and trying out several different performances, from comedy to a one-woman monologue, story-telling and insane gymnastics. The one-woman monologue, The Height of the Eiffel Tower followed the life of Terry and her children (ranging from awkward 13 year old to pregnant teenager), all played by New Zealand actress Morgana O’Reilly. It made me laugh and cry all in the space of one hour as she morphed from one character to the other.
Another highlight was A Simple Space, an acrobatics show created by a group of burly gymnasts who pulled off insane balancing tricks and showed us their strength and core power in a lighthearted performance in the Udderbelly space.
One of the best parts of the weekend however was just exploring the city properly. As my boyfriend constantly reminds me (it’s his hometown), Edinburgh is spectacular. Its turreted buildings, church steeples and green hills provide fantastic photo opportunities. It has a castle – a castle that looks about as perfectly castle-like as any I’ve ever seen – and views stretching right down to the sea from some areas. In the old town, a higldy-pigldy jumble of streets and shops lead to the Royal Mile – the best place to catch the Fringe street performers action. In the new town, expensive shops and posh restaurants stand in elegant Georgian buildings.
Wander off the main strip a little and you will stumble across sweeping crescents of townhouses: some of the most beautiful accommodation in the city. On a bright crisp day as the sun beams through the turrets and gothic architecture over the bright green grass of Princes Street Gardens there are few better places in the world to be.
We managed to see six shows over the weekend and were exhausted by the end of it! Happily, we intermingled all these shows with lots of trips to coffee shops, cafés and Fringe locations for drinks and food. Look out for my top coffee shops post on those, coming soon!