7 Best Ways to Do Edinburgh Festivals and Fringe on a Shoestring 2016 (infographic)
Latest research shows that 20% of people considering visiting and staying in Edinburgh during August were put off because of the expected cost, whilst 49% of people want help lowering costs whilst they were there. We have a wealth of experience and contacts and have gathered it all together to create the definitive 7 step guide to doing Edinburgh Festivals and Fringe on a Shoestring. We know it can be a very expensive type of trip and that many people want to maximise their time in Edinburgh and get the most out of being there whilst on a tight budget. So, here are our TOP SEVEN in detail ….
7 STEP GUIDE to DOING EDINBURGH FESTIVALS AND FRINGE on a SHOESTRING
1. DO FREE STUFF
THE FESTIVAL FRINGE – FREE STUFF
Seriously PBH’s Free Fringe, and The Laughing Horse Free Festival are godsends; lots of performers who are happy to show you their material in exchange for a few quid and some kind words and, we cannot stress this enough, they are as good if not better than the paid for shows. When you pay to see a show there’s a pressure on it, even in the back of your head there’s a kind of “is this worth £15” constantly and it makes it less fun. If there’s a show in particular you’re desperate to see by all means pay it money check it out: but day to day entertainment the Free Fringe Shows are the way to go. They are non-ticketed and you pay what you think the show is worth. Programmes are readily available around Edinburgh, online and at the Edinburgh Festival Camping Show Information Area. Also check out The Royal Mile Stage with performance extracts shown daily.
For The PBH Free Fringe: freefringe.co.uk @TheFreeFringe
For The Laughing Horse Free Festival: freefestival.co.uk @FreeFringeFest
THE BOOK FESTIVAL – FREE STUFF
- Daily Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers events offer a selection of short readings by or about writers incarcerated or persecuted for their beliefs and words. Readings are by a selection of Festival authors.
- A fun Activity Corner for children is located in the Baillie Gifford Story Box and open daily from 11.00am to 4.30pm – just drop in.
- There are daily signings in the Signing Tent where you can meet the finest writers from around the world and get your favourite book signed by the author.
- Daily free events for children are a feature of the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme.
- Ten at Ten is a free ten minute reading from one our writers, every day at 10am.
- Storyshop, every day at 4pm, where Edinburgh’s talented emerging writers do short readings of their stories.
- Unbound, every evening from Sunday 14 August, which features a mix of debut and renowned writers who each try something a little different.
THE ROYAL MILITARY TATTOO – FREE STUFF
It’s pretty difficult to come across anything free for The Military Tattoo but there is a firework display every night at the end which you can see from all over the city; and there is an extended version every Saturday night too…
THE INTERNATIONAL ART FESTIVAL – FREE STUFF
Founded in 2004, Edinburgh Art Festival is the UK’s largest annual festival of visual art. Bringing together the capital’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces, alongside new public art commissions by established and emerging artists and an innovative programme of special events, the vast majority of the festival is free to attend.
THE EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL – FREE STUFF
- The opening event this year is “Deep Time” – it’s an epic, outdoor, public artwork, bringing together spectacular animation, lighting and music, and delving deep into 350 million years of Edinburgh’s history.
- “Songlines“, a city-wide singing event, is on 21st August.
- The International Festivals Young People’s Awards Ceremony on 27th August.
- Check out Conversations with Artists as well, in partnership with BBC Arts.
- Lastly, Virgin Money Fireworks Concert is a must see / you couldn’t miss it FREE event if you choose to watch them from a non-ticketed area. Just look up from anywhere in the City on 31st August – and there they are!
STREET PERFORMANCE – FREE STUFF
Edinburgh during August is full of Street Performers, many of them excellent. Indeed it is likely that you will see some of the best Street Performance you have ever seen and is often better than some of the ticketed shows. There is huge variety and something for everyone. If you hang around and watch and enjoy then feel free to make a contribution…
EDINBURGH MELA – FREE STUFF
Street food, World Music and Dance, and stalls galore make this Leith based Festival a wonderful cultural experience. Under 12s are FREE and Adults are only £4, so a different kind of day out. 27th & 28th AUGUST.
2. SEARCH FOR DISCOUNTS
HALF PRICE AND 2 for 1 DEALS
The bulk of any discount action is for the FRINGE with 2 for 1 offers and half price tickets available throughout the Festival. Offers change daily and are snapped up quickly so you’ll need to be researching daily to take real advantage of these deals. The best way to access these deals is through the free FRINGE APP which is available to download for IOS and Android. Also, check out the Virgin Half Price Ticket Hut in the centre of Edinburgh where you can also grab a bargain.
RESTRICTED VIEW / LESS DESIRABLE SEATS
This is about the only way you could get any sort of discount for the Royal Military Tattoo and Edinburgh International Festival. And even thought there may be a restricted view you will still be able to see everything you need to and have a great experience. We have been informed the way to go about trying to find these for The Military Tattoo is to make contact with the organisers and basically ask! For The International Festival they are available to book online from now onwards – a lot easier.
If you are a student (NUS or Young Scot card holder), senior citizen, unemployed, BECTU, UNITY or EQUITY card holder then you can enjoy some decent concessions in Edinburgh at THE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL, FRINGE and BOOK FESTIVAL.
- At the THE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL YoungScot card holders (U18) can get up to 50% off selected performances and other concession groups can get up to 30% off. If you are Under 26 there are £8 on the day tickets available too.
- The FRINGE also does FAMILY TICKETS for some shows for two adults and two children, or one adult and three children under the age of 18, as well as offering discounts for the usual concession groups.
- The BOOK FESTIVAL offer discounts to the usual concession groups.
3. CUT YOUR ACCOMMODATION COSTS
It’s a true fact that accommodation prices in Edinburgh sky rocket in the month of August because of the sheer demand from visitors. So, if you want to make the most of your stay and save your pennies for actually watching performances and staying as long as possible, then maybe it’s time to think outside of the box when it comes to accommodation on a budget….
Traditionally the cheapest option open to Festival and Fringe Visitors has been to stay in a huge shared dorm room at a hostel, yet that still can be at least around £35 per person per night and then from £60 a night for a private room with shared facilities.
So, here’s the best solution…. camping, yes, CAMPING! What could be more appropriate for a Festival in the Summer? And to top it off there is a campsite which exists during the month of August, when all the major Edinburgh Festivals are on, purely for those Festivals…… EDINBURGH FESTIVAL CAMPING. You immediately at least half the cost of your accommodation, so can double your length of stay. At £15 a night for adults and £5 a night for children it’s a win-win (and only £12 a night for performers and crew).
There are a huge range of accommodation options available from BYO tent to Motorhome, Caravan and Campervan Pitches as well as Glamping options of Pre-pitched Tents with Beds and Super Luxury, fully kitted out, Bell Tents…
The facilities are also top notch with super hot powerful showers, very friendly and accommodating staff, a great breakfast, and oodles of space (including a lake with a beach) to relax and unwind, a little away from madness of the City Centre, to get yourself ready for your next round of Festival Going (it can be a tiring business).
Trams and buses go to and from Edinburgh Festival Camping 24/7 too.
For more details on the campsite, availability and bookings go to: edinburghfestivalcamping.com
4. TRAVEL SMART
USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Edinburgh has it all, and at a pretty good price with any single journey costing only £1.60.
- BUS: Buses in Edinburgh City run 24/7 and reach all parts of the city and beyond. The 2 main companies are Lothian and First and with such a good network staying a little further out of the centre is no bother.
- TRAM: The new tram system is super easy to use and part of the Lothian network. The route is from the airport and into the City Centre.
- MOST COST EFFECTIVE: The most cost effective way to travel if you are staying for a week or more is to buy a Ridacard which costs just £18 for unlimited journeys on the Lothian Network (including buses and trams) for 7 days.
UNDER YOUR OWN STEAM
Edinburgh City is easy to navigate by bike or by foot with many cycle paths making it easy to travel anywhere in Edinburgh, even from quite far out. Getting from venue to venue is almost always easiest by foot too plus there is always something interesting going on in the street somewhere.
5. EAT LIKE YOU’RE NOT ON HOLIDAY
There are normal people in Edinburgh, thousands of them all year round and you know what…. they aren’t queuing outside an expensive concession stand for a bacon roll every morning. So, here’s what you do:
- Go to the supermarket and buy and eat normal food.
- Stay somewhere where you can cook for yourself, like a campsite.
- Be prepared – make a packed lunch and take snacks with you, so when you’re tramping the streets and get hungry you have something with you and aren’t forced into buying something from an outlet.
- Take a water bottle with you – fill it with tap water and refill it with tap water when you’re out. Don’t buy a small bottle of water for £3.99 at a venue!
It is even possible that, by getting in Edinburgh for August, you can come away having made money! Here are our top work tips during the Edinburgh Festivals and Fringe:
WORK FOR FREE ENTRY TO SHOWS
Be a box office assistant, work at a venue bar, be a steward, work in a cloakroom, hand out flyers for venues or shows… All of these can get you free entry and bar discounts. You’ll need to approach venues directly and also some of these roles are voluntary and paid for with the perks. Top Venues to start your search at are UNDERBELLY, ASSEMBLY ROOMS AND C-VENUES…
VOLUNTEER AT EDINBURGH FESTIVAL CAMPING
By volunteering for just 3 hours a day you can stay here COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE! And you’ll even be supplied with a tent if you need one and have free access to use the campers kitchen and be part of their friendly and inclusive team. You can work in the morning leaving your afternoon and evening free to pound the streets of Edinburgh taking in some shows having not spent a bean on accommodation.
BE A BARISTA, WAIT TABLES ETC
Pop-up coffee stands, and more bars and restaurants than you can shake a stick at – they all need extra staff during the Festival season in August. You get paid ok, you have some time to take in some shows and you often get free goodies like coffee, food, snacks and drinks. You’ll need to search local job sites, newspapers, Gumtree or you could just turn up early and put your name forward all over the city!
ULTIMATE WORK COMBO
Clearly your optimum situation would be to get free accommodation by volunteering with Edinburgh Festival Camping and get a job as a Barista somewhere, then spend your evenings and nights all over the Festivals – happy days!
7. GET HERE ON THE CHEAP
We cannot stress this enough, the earlier you book your transport, the cheaper it is. Repeat after us BOOK EARLY, BOOK EARLY, BOOK EARLY!
It might take 9 hrs, but it’s only from £3 on the MEGABUS from London to Edinburgh. NATIONAL EXPRESS from £12.50. Similar fares can be found from other parts of the UK. Easily your cheapest option, especially when booked early.
Surprisingly, this is next on the list…. if you book early enough. RYANAIR from £23 and EASYJET starting at £37 from London. And it’s just over an hour. Use SKYSCANNER to find and compare the best deals.
The key here is to fill your car with as many people as you can fit in to share the cost and stay somewhere you can park for free like a campsite. Why not fill your car or find a shared lift using LIFTSHARE.
4.5 hours from London and £66.50 make this the most expensive option we could find. Good deals are available from all over the UK and can be found using TRAINLINE.