The highlight of the UK and international live performance calendar is set to begin this week (Friday 5 August) when the world’s biggest arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, returns for 2022.
Every year, the Fringe sees crowds descend on the cobbled streets of the Scottish capital to see the best theatre, comedy, and art on offer.
The experience is a hugely enjoyable one, but for first-timers, the vibrant deluge of entertainment from both big names and newcomers (over 3,500 performances across 300 venues) can be daunting.
Not to fear: we’ve gathered together a few wise aficionados to give you their best tips on making the most of your Fringe experience.
Chris Davis, comedian, ‘Down and Out’
“I have been to the festival about eight times.
“The best way to find good shows is to go without a plan. Let your feet take you on a journey. When someone hands you a flyer and they are punting their own show and they seem like fun, go see their show.
“There will be the odd famous comedian that you’ll want to see, but for the most part, talk to people, scan the QR code of an interesting poster you see, or simply walk into a pub that seems fitting for you and more than likely there will be a great comedy show… Culture at the Fringe is difficult to escape.
“The Fringe is overwhelming, and there will be a point where you don’t want to see someone perform on stage. A great big walk up Arthur’s Seat is a fantastic way to escape the hustle and bustle and the view over the city and over the Forth sea is always outstanding – even in typical overcast Scottish days.
“Portobello beach is also not too far away if you want some sand between your toes. My favourite thing though has to be Edinburgh Castle. Get inside it, not just close up, and feel the history that lies within. It really is spectacular to feel centuries of conversation, meddling and conspiracy as you get lost in its dreary corridors.”
Alex MacKeith, musical comedian and winner of the 2020 Musical Comedy Award, ‘Thanks for Listening’
“Head to Assembly Gardens for a catch-up with the legions of flyerers encouraging you to see their show, or a show belonging to the company employing them. Be nice to the flyerers: remember, flyering was never their dream.
‘Leaf through your Bible of flyers. Pick a show from each genre (be advised, you should only pick a children’s show if you have a child). Then — and this is crucial — go to some of them. Yes, the ones you’d never otherwise see. Roll the dice! Be in the fabled 2.75-person audience! You are the difference between a viable show and the yawning void!
“You could discover something or someone completely new, kindle a love of slam-poetry, or make an artist’s week just by showing up. How do I know? Because you just might make mine.
“Then drink too much, rinse and repeat.”
Ali Brice, stand-up comedian and storyteller, ‘I Tried to be Funny, but You Weren’t Looking’
“Hang out with your friends, make new friends, be nice to people, look after people, and congratulate those that are having a good run.
“Don’t mention any bad reviews to anyone.
“Go see shows. Then when you think you’re too tired and you’ve seen too much, go and see another one.
“Go up Arthur’s seat.
“Get out of the centre of town – explore. If you were in London for a month you wouldn’t spend it in Leicester Square.
“But mainly, just have fun.”
Will Duggan, Edinburgh Comedy Award winning comedian, ‘Iceberg’
“The Edinburgh Fringe Festival can seem daunting if you’ve never been before. There’s so much to see, to do, and to experience.
“Go and see one celebrity. Someone you’ve seen on the TV. Stand up is so different in a smaller room, more personal, more intimate, better. If you’ve never seen someone famous in a 200 seater, your life is about to change.
“Go and see something that sounds absolutely insane. Something you’d never go and see normally. You might find your new favourite thing and get a new lease of life. Or you might hate it. But it’s only an hour. As soon as it’s over you can go and slag it off over a pint. Lovely.
“At some point just go to the next thing that’s starting near to where you are. Try something new, and if you hate it you’re only an hour away from a pint and a moan.
“Don’t forget the sheer variation of shows at the Fringe. See comedy, dance, circus, theatre, maybe even improv. Nah, probably not improv.
“For some reason the Nachos in Edinburgh are the best in the UK. I do not know why. But it is a fact. Have some Nachos.”