Surviving Edinburgh in August
Written by Helen Fowler Thursday, 08 July 2010 21:24Edinburgh in August is different to any other time of year. In fact, it's like a different city. You need special skills to make the most of your time here. Here's a potted Let in Edinburgh guide to surviving - and even enjoying - the festival month.
1. Beware rickshaw drivers. You’d think the city’s steep hills would deter cyclists pulling rickshaws. But whippet-thin youths descend on the city in a swarm of lycra and fluorescence in August to pull tipsy tourists up ridiculous gradients. Make sure you’re not so tipsy you forget to agree the fare before stepping into the vehicle – or you could be forced to pay £50 for a half mile journey.
2. Exercise. The Royal Commonwealth Pool is closed for refurbishment, so you could try the Warrender Swim Centre, just by the Meadows, on the city’s south side. Alternatively, try the newly re-opened Glenogle Baths in Stockbridge. You’ll get the authentic Victorian bathing experience there. But with lockers to keep your stuff safe. And proper changing rooms.
3. Don’t get too carried away by reviews. Performers have to drum up whatever publicity they can, bless them, and a five-star rating on a show flier doesn’t necessarily mean a show’s going to knock your socks off. It might just mean the producer’s mum said: “Oooh, I’d give you five stars any day, darling.”
4. Fringe small talk. You’re sat in the Assembly bar. Everyone else is raving about a show that you have never heard of, let alone seen. Comedian Josie Long advises in the Guardian how to bluff that you’ve seen a show. Just look thoughtful and say: “Ahhh, yes, I hear there’s a lot of ground-level buzz about that one.”
5. Twitter. The place for news and opinions on Edinburgh in August. Try #edfest and #edfringe
6. Experiment. It’s easy to stick to shows at high-profile venues like Assembly and Pleasance. You can be confident of what you’re likely to see. If you can manage it, try venturing out of your comfort zone. Yes, there are some terrible shows out there, where your bottom aches from the wooden chairs. There are also some gems. And you'll pay less to see them.
Have you got any tips for surviving Edinburgh in August? We'd like to hear them!