FESTIVAL in Edinburgh?

Since we are making our first UK visit late July-early August, we decided to include Edinburgh during its famous Festival Month. I first booked 3 nights in a hotel near the Royal Mile and now have train tickets to get there and back. But what is Edinburgh like during Festival? What is the atmosphere? Should we buy advance tickets for as many shows and events as possible, or just play it by ear? I know there is plenty to see in Edinburgh, even with no Festival activities, but it seemed like a very special time to make our first and maybe only visit.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

If you want to attend the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, book your tickets today. You'll have no chance of getting tickets if you wait until you arrive.

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

We went last year for the Fringe Festival, and it's pretty crazy, especially the areas with a lot of Fringe venues and the Royal Mile. (In case you don't know, the Fringe is bigger than the Festival proper now. They put in venues wherever they can.) There is something of a party atmosphere. Besides the Royal Mile, I didn't find the sightseeing stuff too crowded. No more an anywhere else in summer, anyway. I think a lot of the Fesitval and Fringe visitors don't need to sightsee so much. We also stayed out at the University, so noise wasn't really a factor. Our room overlooked Arthur's Seat, which was lovely.

Posted by Nancy
Santa Maria, California, USA
31 posts

The Fringe Festival is what I've mostly heard about. I have the Fringe Programme, but at 396 pages & 10 events per page, it's overwhelming. I noticed a few I wanted to see but didn't check their locations. Thanks for the atmosphere reading, Christina. That's kinda what I imagined. Perhaps good for tourists. Tim, what is the Tattoo like? I gather it must be a pretty special event because the stadium in the photo looks huge. Would it be a good idea to combine a tour of Edinburgh Castle with a night at the Tattoo?
I already noticed a small Fringe music show I want to attend (Cat Stevens Revisited?) on one night of our stay, so I'll recheck its date and look for Tattoo tickets on one of the other two nights. This sounds like fun!

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3409 posts

The Tattoo is thrilling from start to finish! Loved every minute of it. It's an unforgettable experience.

Posted by Nancy
Santa Maria, California, USA
31 posts

You convinced me! I just got tickets for Wed night, our last night in Edinburgh. We're in the top row of section 11, among the last few available seats facing the show in what seems to be the right direction. Splurge! I found lots of comments on tripadvisor.com saying to dress warmly and be prepared in case of rain. I hope we are lucky!

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

Nancy, I haven't been to the Tattoo - yet. But I'll be there on 5 August!

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

Yes, the Tattoo is awesome! Loved it. Going to the Fringe was a life's dream of my husband's, since he volunteers for the NY Fringe every year. The one in Edinburgh is the original, and it's overwhelming how it takes over the city. That programme is crazy! We just picked out stuff on the ground that sounded good, and saw very few duds (a couple of small, strange, shows, but nothing truly terrible). The Castle was pretty crowded when we visited, but nothing too bad, and other tourists sites didn't strike me as unreasonably crowded. In fact, we went to Holyrood House first thing in the morning one day, and it wasn't at all crowded. If you want to see the Queen's Yacht in Leith, that should also be booked in advance. We had to call them a few days before.

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
569 posts

The Fringe is fantastic! You never know who or what is going to be playing/performing/exhibiting. We got lucky one year and in the 3 days we were there our favorite Scottish singer was playing a very small bar - we easily got tickets and went. One of the best concerts of my life! There is a free very extensive "newspaper" you can pick up all around town that lists everything that's going on by date and time. There's something for everyone!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3313 posts

Yes, do try to see some events. Glad you got tickets to the Tattoo, but check out the Fringe. Also, there is a book festival and I believe a film festival also in August that may overlap, so look for them as well. You are paying higher prices for everything during the Festival season so make the most of it! Pam

Posted by Lee
Dallas
898 posts

We went to the Tattoo quite a long time ago with our young boys who remember it well to this day. It was very entertaining despite the rain which poured down practically the whole time. We got up to the castle early enough to get a prime view of the military band marching into the castle with bagpipes playing. It is an extraordinary event. Congratulations on having tickets!

Posted by Nancy
Santa Maria, California, USA
31 posts

Small world, Tim. We arrive on Aug 5 & almost got tickets for that night too. But I found what I hope are better seats on the 7th. I hope we are both lucky & neither night rains. You all make Edinburgh during Festival(s) sound pretty exciting. I can't wait! My husband is into pottery and I love folk and rock music, and I see there's a lot of both in the Fringe programme. Plus tonight I discovered the musical theater section. I next need to look up the locations to see which are close enough to get to. A listing by date would be helpful, Anita. What's the name of that Scottish singer you like?

Posted by Maggie
Boscombe, Dorset, UK
960 posts

Nancy, (and Tim!) I think you're going to have a real once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

Nancy, I'll wave at you when we cross paths on the Royal Mile :). I'm also in favor of no rain. Maggie, My wife and I and our adult daughter will only be in Edinburgh for two nights, but we're anticipating having a fabulous time at the Tattoo.

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

"I found lots of comments on tripadvisor.com saying to dress warmly and be prepared in case of rain." We got the same advice when we attended the Tattoo in 2009. It turned out to be the best advice we got. But cold and/or wet, the Tattoo is a once-in-a-lifetime awesome experience. There's nothing like it.