Festival first-timers (Part 1: Booking)

Fesitval first-timers part one booking

Heading for your first Fringe Festival experience this summer and don’t know your Pleasance from your Udderbelly? Fear not, because over the next few weeks I’ll be releasing my 4-part guide, chockablock with the must-have tips and tricks for newbies. All of the essentials are covered as I break your visit down to the five Bs – Booking, Budget, Booze & Belly, and Bearings.

With August just around the corner, it’s time to turn your attention to those all-important preparations and get booking! The Fringe is definitely best approached with an easy breezy attitude; after all, it’s often the most spontaneous decisions that result in the best memories in a Festival where literally anything can happen. However, getting a few things in place now will save you a lot of stress (not to mention cash) when you arrive.

First of all, you’re going to need somewhere to hang your hat. Here’s my two cents on what to consider when booking your accommodation.


We’re pretty biased at Reserve Apartments, but self-catering really is the only way to go when it comes to a summer soiree in Auld Reekie. For a start, it’s heaps cheaper than a hotel and you get a lot more bang for your buck. For instance, a room at the Holiday Inn on the Royal Mile will set you back £249 per night for the first weekend in August. However, a spacious, high-end apartment in the same location comes in at just £150 per night for the same dates. You’ll also save money throughout your stay by not having to give in to tourist trap expensive meals three times a day. Flexibility is the key here, you can do what you want, when you want, and large family groups can stay social under the same roof.

View our Edinburgh Festival Accommodation


Savvy bookers tend to secure their accommodation early in the year, but there’s still time to grab a great deal without having to compromise on quality or location. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of the Fringe and International Festivals, discounts and cancellations are few and far between, and so the sooner you book, the better.


Staying in the Old Town puts you at the heart of all of the action, but you’ll pay the price, and not just with your wallet. The city centre can become incredibly crowded, noisy and expensive during August, and so an apartment in an area like Leith may give you a port in the storm (pun intended). Two of the best things about Edinburgh are its distinct local provinces and the fantastic public transport, so why not take advantage of both and try something new this year? Bedding down in an alternative area may shave £100s off of your accommodation budget, local eateries and sights will also be much cheaper, and you’ll get to see the ‘real’ Edinburgh by living as the locals do. With frequent, safe, and easy peasy bus routes servicing the whole of Edinburgh, you can be back in the thick of it within ten minutes from most districts.

Now that your apartment is secured and you have confirmed dates, it’s time to start booking your ‘big ticket’ events. There are 3,193 individual shows penned for this year’s Fringe Festival, from world-class comedians to youth club theatre groups, and although most are repeated daily (that’s 49,497 performances in total) you have to get in quick to lock in tickets for some acts. Check out the official program and get highlighting. Chances are, if your chosen comedian is performing in a large venue (Playhouse Theatre, Assembly Hall, etc.) or you’ve seen them on a panel show on Dave, you’ll need to book well in advance to guarantee tickets for your preferable date.

No matter the size or status of your desired performer, there are two ways to get tickets for the Fringe:

1) At the box office

This is great if you’re buying for a few different shows and have time to go to the box office to pick all of your tickets up in advance. This can be done online, over the phone, or at one of the physical box offices in the city. The official box office has advance allocation of tickets, and so is your best option for planning the shows you have your heart set on ahead of your arrival.

2) Directly from the venue

A handy option if you just need tickets for a specific performance and want the ease of picking up the tickets just before doors open for the show. Cutting out the middleman of the box office can sometimes mean special discounts, and venues often have ticket allocation left over when the main box offices have already sold out. However, beware that some venues won’t have an online system, and their opening hours might not be too convenient, so best give them a call before heading down in person.

Remember, if you haven't booked your Festival Accommodation, view our self catering options to find a luxury apartment during your time here (often at a cheaper rate than a hotel).

Next: Over in part two... Budget!

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