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Now that it’s not too long before the start of term time and for newcomers to experience the beginning of something new, it’s not a bad time to recap on the festivals that we’ve been to over summer. Instead of your traditional slough through the mud, camping and glitter type of festival, we set our stage in mead smelling, historical Edinburgh, for the infamous Fringe Festival. Running from the 4th to the 28th of August, 2017 marked the 70th year since it began. This odd, show-filled arena has opened its doors to quirky musicians, comedians and eccentrics alike for what seems only yesterday.
As it is the first time I have ever been to the Fringe, it was rather a nervous experience for myself as I did not know what to expect. Yes, of course, plenty of shows, theatre performances, comedians (lots of them) and you name it. You want a taste of it? They’ll hand it to you. But having no experience whatsoever, I had been looking forward to the Fringe as I’ve always heard good things about it. Numerous well-known singers, actors, comedians and people from showbiz. But the thing is, it’s also a very stressful time, when you’re there. I chose to follow other people’s lead. I didn’t choose all my shows except the ones that truly caught my fancy. In Edinburgh, you can expect to pay an average of £10 a show, and that’s being lenient with the pricing.
There are plenty of people all around, performances on the street, but don’t stay too long, if you don’t want to fork out a few pennies while you’re at it. The atmosphere is definitely something to look forward to. People from across the nation, and from different countries flock to one location to either experience something new, or to return once again. There seems to be a common theme where many people who were there, were returning members. The city in itself, on a good day would already be packed with tourists. So, adding another anticipated event, just throws the balance of empty square feet off the charts.
We watched a variety of shows, from Shitfaced Shakespeare (yes, it exists), where one of the actors is drunk while re-enacting a Shakespearean play, to the BBC’s Damien Slash and to random jugglers, roleplays, and comedians. Oh! And not forgetting saucy cabarets. I would say that the experience that I have gained from this event is that you shouldn’t try to plan your shows well in advance or just before you come because there will be so many things that you will want to do and especially if you have never visited the city before, there would be even more things to do. Go with an open mind because whilst you’ve got things that you believe that you would like, but most of the events are spread out across the city centre, so, at times, there have been occasions where we have had to literally leg it to the other end of the city so that we don’t miss a show and as much as it’s good to buy tickets before it sells out, but it’s important to bear in mind that there are over 8,000 performances at the Fringe.
Bear in mind, however, as much as the Fringe is an expensive event to attend, there is also a “Free Fringe” movement which intends to offer free events to push for better inclusion of all artists, rather than having the more privileged artists hold their own show at a pricier fee. As much as the Fringe may be either free or paid, every venue would ask you to “donate” or provide tips for the shows that you have watched and it’s not uncommon to part ways with a minimum of a fiver for each show even if it is indeed advertised as a free show because everyone essentially, expects you to pay up. As much as you are attending a free show, it is also an enjoyment of someone else’s intellectual property. So, it’s only fair for someone to expect you to pay up. Don’t you think?
Overall, I would say that the Fringe is an exciting place to be. The city is beautiful. The atmosphere is exciting. There are plenty of things to do and definitely plenty of restaurants to eat in. Edinburgh is an exciting place to be in and it is friendly on the pocket. Just be careful that you’re not being haggled to watch shows. Never feel obliged to go for a show just because you’ve observed them on the streets or because someone is nice to you. With the variety of shows available at the Fringe, there are many people who will be offering you free tickets or special deals, but be wise and only watch it if you want to.