Edinburgh Festival Fringe Guide Street Performers

*Edinburgh Fringe 2020 Cancelled?* The Ultimate Edinburgh Fringe Guide [2020]

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This August the Edinburgh Festival Fringe goes digital! Find out who is being live streamed at the EdFringe Facebook page.


We are saddened to share the news that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has cancelled for 2020. Unfortunately, the ‘Fringe cancelled’ news that broke on April 1st, April Fools Day, is no joke. Please read in full. 

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive, states:

“Today’s decision that the Fringe will not go ahead as planned was not taken lightly. We have spent the past month listening to a broad cross-section of Fringe participants, as well as to government, healthcare professionals, residents and many more; however, in light of present circumstances, it was unavoidable. Public health must and always will come first.” 

Edinburgh Fringe also say that they “will continue to be here for you [artists] and will do everything we can to support you in the weeks and months ahead.” 

The statement also adds they are “committed to working with artists and creatives from Edinburgh, Scotland and across the world to find new ways of uniting people under a Fringe umbrella.”

Will My Fringe Ticket Be Refunded?

Yes, any Fringe and Friends memberships will be refunded for 2020. 

You can, of course, donate the cost of the ticket back The Fringe Society or request a gift voucher. 

Will Participant Registration Frees Be Reimbursed?

Yes, Participant Registration Frees will be refunded.

Alternatively, artists can roll the fee over to next year’s registration. 

The good news is that Fringe 2021 is still on the cards so please keep reading to find about everything you need to know about attending the world’s biggest arts festival.

Provisional dates are set as 6th to 30th August.

Why Are Some News Sites Saying The Fringe is Not Cancelled?

The Fringe Society can’t control every venue so lockdown depending, some shows may go ahead. 

Edinburgh Fringe Cancelled

From burlesque to fancy dress, politics to freaky tricks, laughs to an upside-down full-grown purple calf. What do all of these mean combined? It’s the Edinburgh Festival Fringe time! Here is your Edinburgh Festival Fringe Guide.

For three weeks in August (Edinburgh Festival Fringe dates for 2020 Fri, 7 Aug 2020 – Mon, 31 Aug 2020), you have never seen Scotland’s capital so alive. It is the ultimate time of year to visit Edinburgh. Come rain or shine * insert joke about Scotland’s weather here* you are guaranteed to laugh, cry, cringe and gasp and that’s just over your hangover (thanks to Edinburgh City Council’s extended drinking hours!) But jokes and rhymes aside, I’m excited to share my years of experience and teach you how to do the Edinburgh Fringe, like a local, in this quick guide.

» Don’t miss our guide to 70 things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Guide 2020

Planning Your Fringe Visit

What do you want to see?! Comedy, plays, musicals, puppet shows, live radio, cabaret, a single girl telling you how bad her life is through Beyoncé songs?

With over 3000 acts, Edfringe has it all! A good starting point is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The official site has an extensive catalogue of events.

For the latest updates, follow Edfringe on Twitter.

Remember to add #EdFringe #MakeYourFringe if you want to share.

You can also download the Edinburgh Fringe app to help you plan your calendar. On the app, you can research events by date and time and purchase tickets.

There is also an Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme brochure which is published around June and found in shops in the city

Most of the Scottish newspapers will provide Edinburgh Festival Fringe reviews and suggest the best shows to see this summer.

Finally, just check out the walls. No space is safe during the Edinburg Fringe! PRs selling shows will greet you (whether you like it or not) on the Royal Mile as you attempt to battle your way through the crowds. The amount of waste during the Fringe really does get me down.

Fringe on the Mile Edinburgh

So it’s all on One Cobbled Street, Right?

Wrong! The Fringe is actually pretty spread out and boasts of nearly 300 venues so you need to know your Pleasance from your Udderbelly!

Edinburgh Fringe venue map

Edinburgh Fringe Venues

1. George Street – Plush shops and upmarket clubs
Amongst other venues you will find the Assembly Rooms (54 George St, Assembly has many venues, most around George Square), this is where I saw Christian Slater in his boxer shorts during One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. BABE

Assembly on George Street outside bar area_

2. The Mound – That big hill near The Castle
Assembly Halls (yes another, don’t mix these up.) I endured Jim Jeffries cutting set here – don’t go with your Mum!

Assembly at Edinburgh Mound_

3. The Royal Mile – The street you see on the telly
One mile of free shows and acts, a good starting point.

Fringe performer on Royal Mile_

4. The Grassmarket – Touristy pubs, usually hens and stags
Every nook and cranny of Edinburgh’s Grassmarket is consumed by the Fringe.

5. George Square Gardens – Assembly Takeover!

One of my favourite areas to grab a drink and a bite to eat. The Spiegeltent is probably the most gorgeous pop-up venue known. 

Spiegeltent Edinburgh Fringe with crowds_

6. BBC – The national news channel
I was in the right place (their music tent) and the right time (about 20:30) and managed to bag free tickets to a show here. I was annoying and tried to heckle. 2019 venue: George Heriot’s School, EH3 9EQ.

BBC at the Festival Fringe Edinburgh

7. Udderbelly – Giant purple cow on its back + more
Udderbelly who brings you the Udderbelly (confusing) is one of the largest companies hosting shows at the Festival Fringe. Udderbelly venues can be found at George Square, Circus Hub on The Meadows, Udderbelly Bistro Square and the original Cowgate site.

Underbelly Festival Fringe Edinburgh

8. The Pleasance – Pretty and relaxed area
I’ve seen quite a few small cringe-worthy shows here but also some extremely funny ones.

There are bars at every venue, naturally, it is Scotland after all.

If you have time in Scotland, I suggest looking into the North Coast 500 in the Highlands of Scotland. It starts at Inverness the goes all around the coast, taking in turquoise sea beaches with white sand (like the Maldives minus the sun!) by castles and distilleries.

» Like comedy? Check our Aberdeen’s Comedy Festival too

Cheap Seats for Edinburgh’s Fringe

Those on a budget can still enjoy the Fringe. Here are a couple of options for cheap Edinburgh Festival Fringe tickets

  • Take a stroll down the Royal Mile and watch the free performers or see snippets of shows which aim to advertise.
  • There are hundreds of Edinburgh Festival Fringe free shows dotted around the city. Just hit ‘filtered results’, select ‘special pricing’ option then tick free here. It is expected that you pay the show’s worth at the end of the performance.
  • Arrive at the start of the programme to enjoy the 2-4-1 cheap seats as the acts warm up.
  • For thrifty Edinburgh Festival Fringe deals, head over to the Virgin Money Half Price Hut to see if any shows need bums on seats. Tickets must be paid for in person.
  • Work in Edinburgh! There are a variety of Edinburgh Festival Fringe jobs

Half Price Hut Edinburgh Fringe_

» Escape the city! Here are Edinburgh’s best day trips

Don’t Plan for The Fringe!

Craig hates planning. It has been known for me to take a bottle of contraband along to the Fringe and just soak up the atmosphere. Let’s face it, you can’t plan for every day when you follow the Fringe Junky philosophy of wake up – Fringe – sleep – wake up – Fringe – sleep and repeat. Some of the best shows I’ve seen, such as Baby Wants Candy, were watched on a whim.

Plonk yourself down and celeb spot! A couple of years ago I was stoked to meet the Scottish comedian Danny Bhoy but that was knocked off the top spot after spotting The Big Yin himself, Billy Connelly, sauntering past with his hair bouncing behind him.

Check out this 90-second video on Edinburgh Festivals.

2020 Fringe Recommendations/ ’19 Faves

  • Cruel Intentions, The 90s Musical – best show I’ve seen at the Fringe. Ever.
  • Ashley Storrie – The comedian from the Scottish Harry Potter viral video fame. Crude language alert.
  • Janey Godley – Ashely’s maw. Does the political voiceover videos and stood with a ‘Trump is a c***’ sign when he visited his hotel. 
  • Silent Adventures Disco Tour – I’ve done this twice. Tickets booked for this year already. 
  • Showhawk Duo – Managed to catch their free show on the Royal Mile last year.
  • Baby Wants Candy – Improv show recommended by me too, seen it three times.
  • Game of Thrones Musical – brilliant, will need to go to see their ending.

Our social media followers recommend:

  • Stuart McPherson – Stand up.
  • Reginald D. Hunter – Comedian – we saw him in Aberdeen.
  • Ivy Paige – Singer.
  • Adam Rowe – Comedian. Joke of the year 2018. 
  • Foil, Arms and Hog – So many recommendations.
  • Eddie Izzard – Expectations of Great Expectations.
  • The Magnets – Naked 90s, a cappella, 90s, ‘nut said.
  • Danny Macaskill – Famous Scottish cyclist’s  Drop and Roll Live Show.
  • Ray BradshawDeaf comedy Fam. Watched a YouTube video, hilarious.

→ What do you recommend?

Did you know that the Fringe is not the only Edinburgh festival in August?

Edinburgh Fringe sign on Royal Mile_

Edinburgh Accommodation

Edinburgh Fringe Festival accommodation is expensive and in high demand. We’ve created a guide on the best places to stay in Edinburgh so read that before booking. 

  • Hotels in Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival start at approx. £95 and reach the highs of £550 per night.
  • Hostels are cheaper at £18 – £50 for a dorm bed (there is often a minimum stay).
  • Airbnb is also an option with an entire property averaging at £215 and private room, £81. Accommodation books up fast so get in quick. 
  • Remember to sign up to Airbnb using this code and you’ll get money off your first booking and we get credit in return, thank you!
  • An alternative option is to search Edinburgh Festival Fringe University Accommodation by clicking here.

» Into affordable fine dining on a budget? Here’s our guide to 3 courses under £30

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Edinburgh Fringe dates?

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019 takes place from Friday, 2 Aug 2019 – Monday, 26 Aug 2019.

2. Can I avoid staying in Edinburgh?

Yes, and many locals actually do the same! Check out the commuter towns of Dunfermline and Inverkeithing in Fife, the seaside town of North Berwick and even Leith just outside of the city centre.

3. How busy does the Fringe get? 

We’re talking Rome’s Vatican in July or Iceland’s Golden Circle June-August. The Old Town is jumping during the Fringe. Some love it, others hate it. Any shows you really want to see are best booked in advance. Expect to wait in line for free shows, especially at the weekend.

4. Is there a Fringe App?

Yes! This will help immensely with your planning too so well worth a download.

5. Where is the Edinburgh Fringe Box Office?

The official box office is at 180 High Street. However, different venues have their own box offices too. These are found at the venue location. There are also a variety of pop-up box offices too around the city.

Closing Points

So to conclude this guide on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – plan or don’t plan but take a brolly!

One of the highlights of the three weeks, for me, are the Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy shows.

I always enjoy reading the Edinburgh Festival Fringe best jokes (voted by Dave, TV channel) once the Festival closes – 2019’s #1 is…

“I keep randomly shouting out ‘broccoli’ and ‘cauliflower’ – I think I might have florets.” – Olaf Falafel

If you really enjoyed your time at the Fringe, why not return for our Edinburgh International Book Festival. I had the privilege of listening to Malala Yousafzai speak about her new book at this book festival. Oh and don’t forget to check out the best bars in Edinburgh.

Going to Edinburgh?

Why not pin to Pinterest board?

Edinburgh Fringe guide, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, free fringe, things to do in Edinburgh, planning Edinburgh Fringe, Fringe shows, Edinburgh budget accommodation, beginner’s guide to Edinburgh Fringe, comedy Edinburgh.


 » Read next: the essential Scotland travel guide

What tips do you have to make The Fringe the best year yet?

Gemma and Craig are full-time workers with a life-long travel habit. Flirting with 30 and let loose on the world! Gemma writes, Craig looks good in the photos.

Comments 40

  1. Thanks for the great tips! I’ve never been to Scotland or the Fringe Festival, but it looks so fun! New York City has a Fringe Festival, as do many other cities. Have you been to any others? How do they rate to the vibe in Edinburgh?

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      Today I am just learning about all of these different Fringes! I wasn’t aware of the NYC one, I wonder how it compares.

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  2. Wow–over 3,000 acts! That’s crazy! Sounds like a great time–I always love theater and any kind of show like this. Thanks for the tips!

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  3. I’ve been to Fringe Festivals in Canada, but nothing like Edinburgh’s I’m sure. Edmonton had a good one, but nothing like the madhouse that must be this one. I bet it’s so much fun.

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      This has just started to come on to my radar. We are in BC just now but think we have missed Edmonton’s Fringe?

  4. I visited Edinburgh in the winter about 8 years ago and heart of the Fringe for the first time then and I’ve always wanted to visit ever since. One day!

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  5. I’m with you- I love planning. Sometimes too much! I really hope I’ll be able to make it to Edinburgh next year for the Fringe Festival. My grandma has gone a couple of times and really loves it

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  6. That looks like so much fun!! I wish we were visiting in August but we’re going to Scotland in May and I don’t think there’s any festivals going on while we’re there 😛

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  7. Hahaha, great to see somebody elses perspective on the fringe. For the past few years living in Edinburgh I usually picked just about a handful of shows I really wanted to see (as just looking at that massive program makes me super anxious, its just too much stuff at one time hehe) and then just meet up friends and do a bar crawl of free fringe shows. Of course, due to the lack of planning here one in more prone to missing some great acts one may have enjoyed, but if one always considers what one could miss, its a vicious circle. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Wow cool!! Never heard of Festival Fringe! It sounds like a fun and unique event – I’d like to see a puppet show done with the Scottish accent ^_^ Maybe I’ll be able to check it out next year!

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  9. I have never heard of this. It looks like a fun festival and a great way to see a lot of shows. I am like Craig, I don’t like to plan. Plans mean you are stuck. But then again with the number of people at this, a plan might be wise.

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      Everyone seems to be reporting that it felt very busy this year. I think everyone has been fed up with the lack of summer and hitting it full force to drown their sorrows with laughter (and drink, let’s face it!)

  10. I’ve been up to Edinburgh so many times, three this year, but I’ve never made it to the Fringe. I feel ashamed! Great tips and I have to admit I’m a non-planner and would be joining you with a bottle of contraband. I love comedy and theatre so really I need to get up there. Great post

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      Kate, you need to add it to your 2016 priority list! And may see you there, drowning my sorrows as I’ll be starting back at work after 18 months off. Let me know if you make it and we can catch a drink or a swig from a bottle 😉

  11. This festival is awesome! I went on a few events during a summer I spent in Edinburgh. It seemed that life stopped for 3 weeks, everyone was dancing, singing, laughing..great times!

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      It really is such a happy time. I used to a lose a week of my life (great being a teacher for the summer holidays!) seeing free shows and socialising. Thanks for reading Maya, do you have any other festivals that you recommend?

      1. Sure, one in my hometown 🙂 In Trencin, Slovakia we have a music festival every July for 4 days but its packed. It’s called Pohoda and it is one of the biggest in Europe. So many events and concerts going on and little time to sleep in between.

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  12. I’ve had the fun of being part of the Fringe this year with a sustainable cinema event but luckily getting some time next week to catch a few shows ourselves before it finishes up. Will very much be a turn up and what’s going cheap affair.

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      Wowzer, you are on the other side of the fence. It must be knackering?! I am planning on heading over next Saturday too. Craig is there today and the sun is shining!

  13. Ahhhhhh!! This makes my heart hurt, as I was planning on going to the Fringe for a second time this summer, but just didn’t have the funds to make it a reality. I know the acts can be reasonably priced, but accommodation, food & drink, and getting there all cost a pretty penny! It’s 100% worth it, though! I LOVE Baby Wants Candy!!! I saw them for the first time at the Fringe, and then imagine my surprise when one of the improvisers from the show taught my improv class in NYC? She even remembered the specific show I had seen that summer! And this -> “a single girl telling you how bad her life is through Beyoncé songs” I am particularly happy that I am in on this joke and I saw that performance!! hahaha..Hope you’re having fun this year at the Fringe, wish I was there!

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      We are like Fringe twins! I know, it is super expensive, I do feel privileged that I can just hop on the train and see some action. I hope you make it back and get in contact if you do 🙂

  14. Can’t thank you enough for this. Am looking to do the tail end of EdFringe 2018 and was really hoping to get some tips from a native who had done it.

    Allow me to return the favor if you ever get a yen for SXSW.

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      Aw cheers Stephanie! I love a bit of social exchange. Really buzzing for SX already. Think it’s the spout of good weather we’re having getting me in the food. We have heaps on Scotland which you can find here, you’ll definitely want to check out our 70 things to do in Edinburgh post too. Come back with any questions.

  15. What a load of what’s it this site is; I hoped to find recommendations on what to see at the Fringe and ended up trawling through pages of asinine how’s-yer-father.
    Well, that’s lesson for me.
    Merci bien

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      Sorry, you were underwhelmed. Not sure why you are trawling through pages when it is only one article. Have fun! Baby Wants Candy is always a winner.

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  16. Thanks Gemma, that would be good, anything else you think might be worthwhile would be appreciated.

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      I really like musicals which I know isn’t up everyone’s street – Game of Thrones Musical was hilarious last year. Monkey Barrell is good for ‘free’ shows, it’s actually a permanent comedy club now (just off the Royal Mile). Will be back again next week with more.

  17. Hi … I’m a writer for the European edition of Readers Digest magazine – over 1m subscribers in 15 nations. I’m doing a feature on the best summer 2020 festivals in Europe and I’d love to quote some of your great lines about the fringe. Obviously I want to credit them correctly … so please can you let me know who wrote the intro to this page, and may I have your full name(s)?

    PS: The words ‘Two Scots Abroad’ will absolutely appear alongside your quotes!

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