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If It’s August, It Must Be Fringe Time in Edinburgh
It’s been a long time since I was in Edinburgh for the Fringe, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it every August. For the lover of performing arts, this is the place to be. Last year there over 28,000 performances of more than 1,860 shows at 261 venues. Critics can complain that the Edinburgh International Festival and the Festival Fringe have tilted heavily to comedy acts, or about the uneveness of some of the drama offered, and yet where else can you get so many live performing artists in such a compact period of time. And it’s a great capitol city to boot!
The whole point of the Fringe is to attract the more experimental works that might not be considered for more formal festivals, so there are bound to be some turkeys. The beauty of the Fringe is that you can cast your vote with your feet. Don’t like a play? Get up and walk out so you can go see something else.
Or just walk the streets of Old Town and be mesmerized by the beauty of the place. You could spend an entire day roaming Calton Hill, walking the Royal Mile, visiting Edinburgh Castle, walking the gardens of Holyrood park, admiring the Georgian architecture of New Town ducking into great pubs and savoring some of the best food in all the UK.
Start your day at 54 George Street where you can suss out the buzz on what the hottest tickets are and then make your purchase. If you are really talented and have good maps and guides, you can plan your day to maximize the number of shows that you see while making sure you are near a great place to grab a meal or slake your thirst.
After evening performances you have Rose Street to explore. This long alley runs between Princes and George Streets and enough pubs, cafes and restaurants to choose from that you could go several weeks without repeating. The Abbotsford, Rhodes & Co., Milne’s Bar, The Rose Street Brewery, The Auld Hundred, Filthy McNasty’s, Dirty Dick’s, and the list goes on and on.
Another alternative is to head down to the waterfront of Leith where you can find some particularly outstanding seafood restaurants. We still remember a fantastic meal of fresh caught fish at the aptly named Fisher’s. The atmospheric pub is located at 1 The Shore (also an appropriate address) at the base of the old Signal Tower
All the guidebooks can advise on where to stay, but take note of the fact that there are dozens of fine B&B’s in the New Town area that give you easy walking access to Old Town and all the sites.
You won’t find more entertainment in one place than Edinburgh in August, or more hospitable pubs and restaurants. Last advice is to get out your walking shoes and start packing.
Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.
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