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10 Things you Must Do at Edinburgh Festival

By August 9, 2011No Comments
Edinburgh Festival

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Did we mention the festival’s in town? Of course we did. Heading to Bedlam Paintball Edinburgh should still be on anyone’s ‘to-do’ list (especially on a day as sunny as this!) but if you fancy grabbing some culture and soaking up this annual barrage of entertainment, here are few hints & tips on what not to miss – whatever your budget.

1. Get a laugh for free

Out of around 2,500 Fringe shows this year, over 600 of them are totally free – that’s right, free. So just check the programme and if it says ‘Free’ then just rock up and get a few comedians for the price of a pint…or less. Try Robin Ince’s Struggle for Existence or Jollyboat at The Voodoo Rooms.

2. Spy on Edinburgh from above

The Old Town is the undisputed heart of the festival, but that doesn’t mean Princes Street is just as packed with visitors too. One great and totally unmissable way to spend a morning is to head up the Royal Mile (or High Street, as we call it) and pop into Camera Obscura & the World of Illusion. It’s been there since Victorian times and features a huge array of powerful telescopes on the roof – not to mention a labyrinth of weird and wonderful light installations, mirrors, optical effects and more.

3. Wake up with a bang

Had a late night? Wanting a lie-in? Feeling dead chuffed with yourself at being able to find that central flat during the festival madness. You do know that Edinburgh’s famous One ‘o’ clock gun goes off at, well, 1pm everyday? The funniest bit is watching tourists dive for cover in Princes Street Gardens.

4. Go see the Russians in Leith

As usual, The Moscow State Circus is in town – though this time they’ve opted to host their display of skill, power and absolute blind fear down by Ocean Terminal, right on the harbour.

5. Celeb-spot at The Pleasance

Everyone’s waited outside The Pleasance (no idea why it’s got such a daft name) for a show, but you’ll be surprised how many people just love hanging out there come festival time. Sure there’s a great buzz to the place, but there’s also something: celebrities. Between The Pleasance and The Spiegel Garden, you’re sure to turn your head a few times and say things like “That was definitely Stewart Lee!”.

6. Go and actually watch Stewart Lee

The 41st funniest person in the world returns for another run for the BBC – this time transmitting his deconstructionist at the tiny The Stand in the New Town. It’s a work in progress, apparently, so expect even more tangents than usual.

7. Or play Programme Roulette

Or if you don’t want to stick to the big names, grab your programme, head to a big venue (somewhere near Teviot will do), close yours eyes, flick it open and point. Open those eyes and go and see what you’ve just selected.

8. Visit the new museum

With a bit of luck you’ll have half an hour to kill before the show begins, so make sure you absolutely do NOT miss out on the newly opened (like last week) National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street. As comedian Andrew Maxwell said, most national museums have a theme, but our theme is “look at all the stuff we have!”.

9. Arcade Fire at The Castle

If there was ever a band more suited to be playing at Edinburgh Castle then I can’t think who. Epic, soaring and packed with more stuff going on then three average bands put together: expect the Montreal rock ensemble to shake the volcanic plug to its core.

10. Escape to Leith

We could’ve put ‘escape to the Botanics’ or ‘escape to Fife’, but Leith really is just better. Walk down The Walk for a true taste of what the place is about. At the bottom on the right hand corner you’ll see clock tower: that’s all that remains of Leith Train Station, the building which Irvine Welsh subsequently got the name for Trainspotting from. For food try Nobles or The Rose Leaf; both very tasty.

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