The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival. That means that August is the time of the year where a walk along Princes Street becomes unbearable for anyone living in Edinburgh. Tourists. Everywhere.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has also been on my doorstep for my whole life. You’d think he’s probably been to a lot of shows, he’ll go to about 10 every year, he must’ve seen 100s of shows. Nope. I didn’t really go to the Fringe properly until last year. Last year I made the decision to see as many shows as I could. I was fairly successful. This year I turned my ticket booking up to 11!
I’ve already purchased tickets to 15 shows this year and the bulk of those are in the first couple of weeks… and I’m working full time. I’ve booked tickets for big names like Jason Manford, Frankie Boyle, Sara Pascoe and Iain Stirling (unknown/known to most as the voiceover guy from Love Island). Ticket prices can get quite expensive though, with the most I’ve paid this year at £18.50 for Jason Manford. However, it’s not as expensive as you think! I thought I’d write a short guide on ways to do the ‘Fringe on the Cheap’.
I’ll start with the most obvious tip – the free shows. This is a gamble. If you’ve been to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe then I’m guessing you’ll have seen some pretty rubbish free shows. I know I saw a couple of bad ones last year. Hopefully that hasn’t put you off though because you can uncover some hidden gems in amongst the hundreds of free shows. The difficult part is separating the good acts from the ones to avoid but just have a look at the Fringe book and find the ones that sound good. What’s the worst that can happen? At most of the free shows they do ask for donations at the end so make sure you have change (if you want to give anything). I didn’t last year and we had to give a fair bit more than we wanted to!
The Fringe doesn’t actually start on the date that they say it does! This year the start date is advertised as the 4th August, but there’s actually preview shows from most of the acts for a couple of days before this date. Not many people are aware of that fact. This year the preview shows started on the 2nd August and finished on the 4th. Not only do you get to see the acts first, the prices are also reduced. It’s a win/win! This year we got Sara Pascoe tickets for £7 which was a bargain. The average price we paid over all of the preview tickets was around £7 which doesn’t break the bank too much.
2 for 1
The first Monday and Tuesday of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are always 2 for 1 days. This year it’s August 7th and 8th which not many people know about either. Most of the ticket prices are actually increased a little bit (that’s where they get you!) but it’s still worth making the most of these days. This year I’ve managed to get three shows on each night of the 2 for 1 days. Cram those days full of shows! The bigger shows do sell out fairly quickly on these days but if you’re relatively quick you should be able to watch a good number of shows for about half the usual price. The average ticket price over the 2 for 1 days was around £7.50 and seeing some good acts like NewsRevue, Dane Baptiste, Noise Next Door and Tape Face.
I didn’t really notice this before because generally you’ve got a set date in mind so you just book for that day. However, shows are more expensive at the weekends! Kinda makes sense right? Still, I thought the shows were the same price throughout the month, how naïve of me! The prices for most of the shows are only a little bit more but if you’re not bothered when you go then you can get a little bit of a discount. Every penny counts!
If you have any tips on other ways to do the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on the cheap then let me know below.