1. The Fringe is just a fraction of the action
Art, film, food, fashion, tradition, music… The list goes on. Alongside the Fringe, Edinburgh is home to the world’s longest continually run film festival (June), a science festival (April), a jazz festival (July), a multicultural mela (August) and a storytelling festival (October).
While the Fringe has over 3000 shows in more than 300 venues, that’s just a fraction of the action: each year Edinburgh sees over 25,000 artists come from over seventy countries to put on upwards of 45,000 performances.
2. There’s something for everyone, no matter when you go
Once you’ve picked your festival flavour, perhaps it’s literature or film, prepare to be baffled by the huge variety of different acts and events on offer.
The International Jazz Festival (which runs for ten days every July) has music to suit all tastes – the 2015 line-up saw everything from a very traditional Frank Sinatra centenary concert to a raucous performance from Swing, Latin and ska inspired Rumba de Bodas that saw teenage boys keeping up with pensioners on the dance floor.
3. Some of Edinburgh’s festival venues are an attraction in their own right
Throughout the various festivals you can rock out in a seventeenth-century church on the Royal Mile, listen to music in the famous velvet-draped Spiegeltent in St Andrew’s Square or see plays in the dissection room at Summerhall, a near-hundred-year-old former veterinary school.
Spiegeltent, courtesy of Edinburgh Festivals
Summerhall is one of the city’s most atmospheric venues: it plays host to art exhibitions, gigs and plays in spaces left unchanged since its days as the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. Old, rusted chains hang eerily from the ceiling of one sinister room and in another, the old anatomy lecture theatre, the audience take up seats in the original chairs students once sat in.
4. The city knows how to party (there’s gin on tap!)
When the performances, gigs and film screenings are over, the fun doesn’t have to end. Edinburgh has a drinking den for every party-goer.
The Jazz Bar on Chambers Street has live music into the early hours, where some of the festival artists come to jam after their sets finish elsewhere. And for a truly debaucherous end to a night, wind up in Fingers for impromptu, booze-fuelled singing (read: wailing) sessions around the piano.
Summerhall, courtesy of Edinburgh Festivals
If you’ve been at a Summerhall event, pop next door to the Royal Dick pub, where craft beers from Barney’s Beer (whose brewery is also part of the complex) are brew of choice and there’s Pickering’s Gin piped directly from the distillery to the bar.