Life on the Fringe of the Fringe – a review of Edinburgh Festival Camping

Our Fringe Venue 403 manager Alex’s review of Edinburgh Festival Camping 2019. From tent-pitching through to sound checks, pizza making and the running of our campsite from 1st – 27th August 2019.

We hope you’ll enjoy reading this, and we hope that we’ll see you next year!

The drive from Bristol to Edinburgh this year was something that right up until the home straight could’ve been from a film. We’d packed up a big van and a small car with canvasses, poles, bedding, and all the other camping essentials you probably already know about. But then we had some slightly less conventional stuff, too – guitars, fairy lights and even a rubber chicken which makes stunningly accurate weather forecasts. It was a scorcher, all blue sky and bright sun, shades on our faces and hands out the windows.

This year we’ve been busier and more active than ever. From the kitchen there’ve been chilies, curries, stews, burgers and pizzas. The site has been heaving with performers and punters enjoying their festival, but our facilities have been as clean and comfortable as a hotel’s. It’s not possible to over-state just how important the team of volunteers we’ve had this year have been in making everything possible. It’s a special thing to be part of a workforce so dedicated, multicultural and fun to be around. They’ve made pizzas, they’ve cleaned tents and they’ve checked in all of our wonderful customers (as well as making sure they always get their complimentary beer). And our customers have been, as usual, brilliant to chat to and get to know, whether they’re here for a month or a weekend, whether they’re dedicated Festival goers or not even here for the Festival at all. A big thank you to all of you who stayed with us and made the atmosphere on this site so exciting, fresh and wonderful.

Venue 403, our tipi-turned-Fringe-venue, has seen some incredible moments. Our first ever comedy night, featuring an all Welsh line-up of comedians, had people in stitches. We’ve had more bands than ever. Katie MF warmed us all up on a cold evening with some absolutely scalding punk rock, and Zkeletonz kept us dancing till late on the last week of the Fringe. There were many familiar faces, with 403 legends Hannah Griffiths, Band of Jays, Olly Watson and Ragman’s Rumble all making returns to the stage it was as if they never left. Hannah, in particular, deserves a big shout out for what was an absolute marathon effort, staying and performing with us for almost two weeks, and rocking the mic every night.

When I think back to that car journey at the end of July, I remember getting stuck in absolute stand-still traffic just outside the border between England and Scotland. We were all tired, sweaty and desperate to get to the site. We made it through with laughter and song. It required a similar tactic, but with a lot more grit and determination, to deal with the storm which hit us slap bang in the middle of festival. Roads flooded, thunder rumbled and lightning burst from the sky. But teams pull together during times like those and ours certainly did. Flooded roads were paddled across, the tipis felt momentarily more like a bothy with guests clothes drying near the fire and when the storm was over we’d recovered so well it looked like it had never even happened. One night, a few members of our team found themselves trying to unblock a drain on the main road while someone sang ‘Sweet Caroline’ in the tipi a few metres away from them. ‘Good times never seemed so good,’ goes the words and all of us here at Edinburgh Festival Camping can feel that. We made it through the storm just as we made it through the traffic jam, just with more laughter and more song.

We want to say a big thank you to all the customers and volunteers we’ve had stay with us this year. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you all and seeing how much you’ve loved your Fringe. We’ll be back next year and we hope you will be, too. And to anyone who’s not stayed with us before, come see for yourself how special a place this campsite is, and make some wonderful memories while you’re here.

Edinburgh Festival Camping will be open from 6th – 31st August 2020. We recommend booking Electric Meadow Pitches and Bell Tents early due to limited availability.

  • Free cancellation until 31st December 2019
  • Free 2020 date changes until 31st May 2020 (dependent on availability)
  • Fantastic Christmas gift
  • £20 OFF Bell Tent stays on 6th August 2020
  • Book now while we have availability – weekend availability for Electric Pitches will sell out quickly!