Last weekend, Edinburgh gained the coveted crown of my new favourite city. First it was London, then New York, then Seville, now Edinburgh (actually, it just seems to go in order of places I’ve visited, but never mind). I was there from Friday to Tuesday morning, staying with my godparents and getting my first experience of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I figured I’d give you a quick rundown of the shows I saw, for anyone who’s wondering what to see or is just interested, plus more general things we did and my overall impressions of Edinburgh!
(For those who don’t know what the Fringe is – one of my friends asked why I had to go all the way to Scotland to get a fringe when I told him where I was going – the Fringe is an arts and comedy festival that takes place throughout the whole of August)
Before I go into a bit more detail about what I actually did in Edinburgh, I have to say that the Fringe is overwhelmingly amazing. There’s so many incredible shows, both free and paid, plus all the street performers on the Royal Mile, it’s hard to know where to start. The approach we took, which worked pretty well, was to book a couple of shows in advance, see some free Fringe stuff that we got given leaflets for and also go to a paid show that we got a flyer for that turned out to be absolutely brilliant. Also, quick side note – so many bloggers seemed to be there according to Instagram? I don’t know if I was just more aware of it because I was there but every other Insta story and tweet was either someone saying they were there or asking for recommendations because they were going soon!
Anyway, onto the actual shows – on Saturday night we saw Nina Conti, a ventriloquist whose primary puppet is a monkey. She also got the audience involved by picking people out and basically doing ventriloquism on them with varying accents – hard to describe but very funny! My godfather and I then went to see Circolombia at the Circus Hub, who were absolutely incredible. They’re a circus group, all from Colombia (hence the name) who combine all sorts of incredible circus acts, often involving aerial stuff, with music and dance. They were unexpectedly brilliant (although mildly terrifying to watch at points) and got a fully deserved standing ovation at the end.
On Sunday we went for a more spontaneous approach, watching a few street performers on the Royal Mile before watching a student comedy sketch show as part of the Free Fringe. As my godfather said, it was a proper ‘Fringe experience‘, in an upstairs room of a bar that sold incredibly strong cocktails (beating Seville to become the strongest mojito I’ve ever had), covered in graffiti and with a slightly odd odour. The show itself was a bit mixed, but it was a really fun experience and I now feel like I’ve properly done the Fringe. We then went to another student show, this time paid, that we got a flyer for earlier in the day. It was an ‘improv musical’, where the audience pick the characters, location and title, and help provide plot suggestions halfway through. Ours ended up with the main characters of Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies and ‘everybody’s grandma’, set in a toilet block, with the title of ‘Tink in the Stink’. It was absolutely hilarious, and ended with Tinky Winky and his grandma (?!) falling in love.
We then moved onto my final show of the Fringe, which was a performance by Exeter University acapella group Semi-Toned, who I then interviewed for local radio (spot the budding journalist!). They were a bit different to most acapella groups in that they interwove the songs with some comedy bits (and some admittedly dodgy acting), which helped to make it feel a bit more like a Fringe show than just a concert.
The next day we went back into central Edinburgh, though not for the Fringe – we first had lunch at the Boozy Cow (highly recommend – the burgers are amazing and you get kitchen roll and a tray instead of plates and cutlery), before a trip to a chihuahua café!!! There were eight chihuahuas in total, and they were all adorably cuddly, especially when it was time to feed them! There was also some decent watermelon cake too, which is always a bonus…
We then walked back to Waverley Station through Princes Street Gardens, which were beautiful and had a really nice, buzzy atmosphere. I was obviously visiting during the best time, being the height of summer and full of the excitement of the festival, but the whole city had such a nice atmosphere of excitement the whole weekend, even when the weather was cloudy and damp (which, being Scotland, it was quite a lot of the time). Another thing I’d mention as worth a brief visit is the Scotsman Steps – they link the Old and New parts of Edinburgh, and each step is made of a different marble, so they look pretty impressive (although they’re pretty lethal during wet weather!).
Have you visited Edinburgh lately? What are your recommendations? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!