2024 Edinburgh Fringe Guide By A Local

Edinburgh Festival Fringe On the Mile

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From comedy to cabaret, burlesque to Broadway, politics to purple cows, our free Edinburgh Festival Fringe guide explains everything you need to know about this lively event in Scotland’s capital.

For three weeks in August (02 – 26 August 2024), every nook and cranny of the capital’s Old Town and City Centre is packed with performances and gig-goers taking advantage of stand-up shows, live theatre, and free entertainment, and we love it!

Read next: Fringe accommodation options.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Guide 2024

These are the shows we have our eyes on this year. You?

  • 5 Headliners for £10
  • Adam Kay: Undoctored
  • Connor Burns: 1994
  • Gwyneth Goes Skiing 
  • Paul Black: All Sorts
  • The Black Blues Brothers
  • West End vs Broadway
  • Why Am I (Still) Like This?
Royal Mile Fringe Face_

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 covers a lot of ground.

But how do you choose?

A good starting point is the official Edinburgh Festival Fringe website, where you can use the filter function to help you navigate the extensive catalogue.

You can also pick up the programme brochure, published around June and available in businesses around the city.

Download the Edinburgh Fringe app for quick access to your performance calendar, and follow Edfringe on social media for the latest updates.

Most Scottish newspapers, TV news shows, and radio broadcasts will cover Edinburgh Festival Fringe reviews and interviews.

The Edinburgh Minute is a helpful newsletter that rounds up local news and links to Fringe guides.

Finally, check out the walls.

No space is safe during the Edinburg Fringe!

PRs promoting shows will greet you on the Royal Mile as you attempt to battle through the crowds.

Note: Show registration for Fringe 2024 will open around 5th May.

Tickets go on sale for audiences in early summer.

Fringe on the Mile Edinburgh

So it’s all on one cobbled street, right?

Wrong!

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

Edinburgh Fringe venue map

Edinburgh Fringe Venues

1. George Street – Plush Shops and Upmarket Bars

The most notable venue on George Street is the Assembly Rooms (54 George St), one to watch for as there are various Assembly venues you need to avoid getting confused.

This is where I saw Christian Slater in his boxer shorts during One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Assembly on George Street outside bar area_

2. St Andrew Square

Alfresco shows and plenty of space for picnics is available at St Andrew Square.

It is also home to The Stand Comedy Club’s giant 140-capacity yurt.

3. The Mound – That Big Hill Near The Castle

The venue at the top of The Mound is Assembly Hall; yes, another Assembly venue. Don’t mix these up!

I endured Jim Jeffries cutting set here – don’t go with your Mum!

Assembly at Edinburgh Mound_

This is also home to a popular Instagram spot, as it looks Harry Potter-ish.

4. The Royal Mile – The Street You See on the TV

Just under a mile of free shows and acts!

The Royal Mile is a good starting point for getting your Fringe bearings.

It is also where performers try to entice customers to see their show, some offering a short performance to grab your attention.

Fringe performer on Royal Mile_

5. The Grassmarket and Cowgate – Touristy Pubs

Edinburgh’s Grassmarket pubs are busy year-round, but especially during the Fringe, as some venues are open until 5 a.m. on an extended licence.

The Grassmarket is a drunken stumble from the Cowgate, which has many pubs hosting shows, some of which are underground!

Check out our South Bridge Vaults Tour guide to learn about the city’s dark side.

6. George Square Gardens – Assembly Takeover!

If you can find a seat, George Square Gardens is one of my favourite places to grab a drink and a bite to eat.

It is also home to the most gorgeous pop-up venue, The Spiegeltent.

Were you lucky enough to catch Cruel Intentions The Musical here?

Spiegeltent Edinburgh Fringe with crowds_

7. Underbelly – Giant Purple Cow

Located at Bistro Square, Violet is an upside-down purple cow theatre space owned by Underbelly, one of the largest companies hosting shows at the Festival Fringe.

Bistro Square has bars and benches for catching up before shows.

Underbelly Festival Fringe Edinburgh

8. The Pleasance – Pretty and Relaxed Area

The Pleasance has a myriad of performance rooms, so it is best to arrive early to ensure you make it through the right door.

The indoor venues are surrounded by outdoor bars and covered tables.

Pleasance arch with Fringe sign in Edinburgh

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

  • Stroll down the Royal Mile and watch the free performers or see snippets of shows advertising their full gig.
  • There are hundreds of Edinburgh Festival Fringe free shows dotted around the city. Hit ‘filtered results’, select the ‘special pricing’ option, then select ‘free’ here. You are expected to pay the show’s worth at the end of the performance.
  • Arrive at the programme’s start to enjoy the 2-4-1 cheap seats as the acts warm up.
  • Work in Edinburgh! There are a variety of Edinburgh Festival Fringe jobs.
Edinburgh Castle Fringe sign of Princes Street

Don’t Plan for The Fringe

Let’s face it; you can’t plan for every day when you follow the Fringe addiction philosophy of wake up – Fringe – sleep – wake up – Fringe – sleep – repeat.

Some of the best shows I’ve seen, such as Baby Wants Candy, were watched on a whim.

You can still get a taste of the Fringe without seeing a show by sitting at one of the bigger venue areas and people-watching; this is where you’ll also meet artists trying to promote their act.

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, strolling past with his hair bouncing behind him.

Check out this 90-second video on Edinburgh Festivals by my pal Dan Flying Solo.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Act

Previous Shows

This is the section of the guide where we list all the shows we’ve seen or that have been suggested to us.

2023 Fringe Events

  • Alan Turing: A Musical Biography
  • Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel
  • Christopher Hall: Self-Help
  • David O’Doherty: Tiny Piano Man
  • Gary: Tank Commander – Gary Talks (Yous Listen)
  • Hello Kitty Must Die
  • Legally Blonde
  • No More Love Songs
  • Paul Black: Nostalgia
  • Tatty Macleod: Fugue
  • The Briefing with Melissa McGlensey

2022 Fringe Events

  • Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch
  • Sunshine on Leith
  • Paul Black: Self-Care Era
  • Flight
  • Symphonic Ibiza

2021 Fringe Events

  • 44 Scotland Street walking tour
  • 1902 theatre at Leith Arches
  • Police Cops Badass By Name at Assembly George Square

2019 Fringe Recommendations

  • 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, ‘nuf said
  • Danny Macaskill – Famous Scottish cyclist’s  Drop and Roll Live Show
  • Ray Bradshaw – Deaf 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 it before booking.

  • Hotels in Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival start at approx £250 per night.
  • Hostels are cheaper, but there is often a minimum stay.
  • An alternative option is to stay in Fife or East Lothian and travel into the city by public transport.
Festival Fringe act Royal Mile

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Edinburgh Fringe dates?

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2024 takes place from 02 – 26 August 2024.

2. Can I avoid staying in Edinburgh?

Yes, and many locals do the same!

Check out the commuter towns of Dunfermline and Inverkeithing in Fife, the seaside town of North Berwick, and even Leith, which is connected to the city centre by tram and bus.

3. How busy does the Fringe get? 

We’re talking about Rome’s Vatican in July or Iceland’s Golden Circle in 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 it is 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 around the city.

Closing Points

To conclude this guide on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – plan or don’t plan, but take a raincoat as many of the venues have you lining up outside, and some of the bars are outdoors, too!

For me, one of the highlights of the three weeks is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy shows.

I always enjoy reading the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s best jokes (voted by Dave, TV channel) once the Festival closes—2023’s #1 is…

“I started dating a zookeeper – but it turned out he was a cheetah.” by Lorna Rose Treen

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 festival.

Or, look out for the Connect Festival or the Edinburgh Summer Sessions lineup for a weekend of bands and DJs at Ingliston near Edinburgh Airport.

And don’t forget to check out the best bars in the Old Town.

Monkey Barrel Fringe Edinburgh

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

Essential Edinburgh Information 

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