Surviving Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – The City & The Clouds

fringeyWe’re at the midmark of July, with only a scant dozen days or so till the madness that marks the Edinburgh Fringe Festival kicks off its annual palaver.  It’s one of my favourite times of the year, and one that keeps me busy as a daftie, seeing shows, scribbling down thoughts, dashing around town and generally having a great time.

But I’m aware that there are a lot of people who have never attended the Fringe before, and for them, to help aleviate these problems, I thought I’d compile a few wee tips that might help you enjoy the Fringe a bit more.

 * * *

_46575602_edinburgh_bbc_512The City of Embra

Whether you’re from Pyongyang or Penzance, if you haven’t been to Embra before, there are some quirks to Auld Reekie that may confuse and baffle the unprepared.  It’s an old city, build on a labrynthine structure of overlapping layers and hills, which can catch the unwary and end you up lost, baffled… and eventually on a housing estate somewhere being eyed warily by ‘youths’ on bikes and men with dogs on string.

It’s important to keep track of where you are, and during the festival, that means, the city centre, and for the most part that area where the ‘auld toon’ and the New Town meet and overlap near Princes Street Gardens and the Railway Station.


A Handy Illustrative Map I Found Online

There’s a pretty simple way to keep track of what you’re doing. If you end up going down any particularly big hills for any length of time, you’ve moved out of the centre. To the South, when you start heading down Minto street, or Dalkeith Road, to the North, as you find yourself going down Leith, and West down Johnston Terrace, which winds around the castle.  As far is East is concerned, if you have broached the top of Calton Hill, then you rarely need to go much farther.

Of course, as usual, there is an EXCELLENT map at the back of the Fringe Programmes which can be found pretty much anywhere between now and the end of August. So keep one of these handy, or rip out the last couple of pages of one and keep them to hand, should you be without some sort of mobile phone or tablet device.

The main hubs of activity are in the centre of this block (^See illustrative map) and with a few exceptions, almost all the shows and events can be found there.


What a Spell of Weather

jazz_blues_festival_pic2Scottish weather is not like your earth weather.  There’s some sort of mercurial and bizarre tempest that sits in the sky above central Scotland, which makes the ability to realistically predict the weather patterns a good guess at best.  What this means to you is that if the weather report predicts sun, make sure you have a brolly with you, just in case.

It’s also worth bearing in mind, that Edinburgh is prone to wavering temperatures in August. We have been known to get the odd indian summer, as well as extremefluctuations in humidity and sunshine. Don’t be surprised if one day is cold and foggy, the next is a blazing hot scorchingly clear day, and the day after that muggy, close and cloudy.

I literally never leave the house in August without my umbrella in my satchel. It isn’t worth the risk of getting caught in a sudden downpour between two shows.  Especially when you have the very real chance that scheduling will dictate seeing a show at the Hill Street Theatre, followed by one at Potterrow. Get halfway there and caught in a summer shower, and you’ll know all about it, all day.  So while it’s generally a good idea to dress for warm weather, pack a waterproof coat or a brolly in your bag, and don’t get caught out without one!

All is not lost should you forget, almost every overpriced street vendor will suddenly pull these items from thin air at the first spit of precipitation. Fret not.

To be Continued…



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