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Note: I’ve added this in with the posts about our North Coast 500 trip as we started in Edinburgh and just planned to be there at the start of the Edinburgh International Festival by happy accident. Additionally, we were there pre-pandemic, so some things may have changed from our visit.

You can visit the page where we’re adding to the route one section at a time and where all of our posts on the topic will live here. I’ve also started a group for discussion and where you can add to the map if you’ve done the trip and have suggestions.

August brings many things to Scotland, some are: warm(er) weather, the Scottish midge (some places in the highlands) and also the Edinburgh International Festival.

The festival brings a celebration of performing arts — music, theatre, dance — to the city for almost the full month of August.

Tickets to events can be pricey, though, and require advance reservations.

Alongside that, though, runs another festival. Also a festival of theater. But for which most (or all?) events are free and are ones that you will likely never see again. That brings people bombarding the Edinburgh Festival crowds with flyers in the streets. This is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival...and it’s a blast!

Edinburgh Fringe Sign

Festival Venues

The venues for the shows may be theatres…or they may be restaurants, pubs, museums…

John Knox house and a fringe festival venue
As you can see, the historic John Knox house was a Fringe Festival venue.

So some of the venues are small and seating is not guaranteed. If you find an event you want to attend, I’d recommend getting there early to get a seat. It seemed like many to most of the events did not offer advance reservations.

Finding Events

And how to you find out about the events? While the Fringe does have a website, our knowledge of the events came from flyers posted on lampposts and people bombarding us from all angles with flyers.

Poo Emoji people at fringe festival
Poo Emoji People hand out flyers at the Fringe Festival.
a visitor to the fringe festival pets Greyfriar Bobby
A Fringe Festival “visitor” pets Greyfriars Bobby.

We ended up with quite the collection of flyers from Thrones: the Musical Parody, to an off-color one about Harry Potter, that I seem to have, unfortunately, lost.

A collection of flyers from the 2018 Edinburgh International Festival
Some of the many event flyers we collected at the Fringe Festival in 2018.

Of course, a festival such as things also brings plenty of spontaneous street performances from buskers to puppeteers.

street performers at Edinburgh Festival
parade going up to Edinburgh Castle
Wizard and Unicorn Living Statue at Fringe Festival
How is this wizard living statue hovering? Magic, I guess.

A Few Moments from the Streets of the Festival

Where to Stay

Our adventure took us to Edinburgh as I found cheap airfare and hadn’t been there before, so we spent a few days there to recoup our post-flight energy before driving off toward the highlands. As I said, it was a happy accident that we ended up there during the festival.

Whether being there during the festival for you is a happy accident or unfortunate event depends on whether you like crowds. The festival, of course, brings lots of visitors. I’m not sure how numbers are since the festival has resumed, but it’s likely still to bring lots of tourism. Here’s a clip of how things looked during 2018:

But this tells you at least one thing: you likely don’t want to drive into Old Town Edinburgh and try to find parking. If we got to do it over again (and I hope we will), I’d opt to stay close in.

Here’s a map from of some available locations in Edinburgh:

We ended up staying in the Leith area in an AirBNB a short walk from the Royal Yacht Britannia. This afforded us a place to park and we found that taking the bus into Edinburgh proper was easy and convenient. We found we could just add funds funds for the Lothian Buses and then pay with mobile on the bus. I wouldn’t have wanted to stay much farther away.

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