how to survive the edinburgh festival from a local
Every August, Edinburgh comes alive with drink, dancing and 1 billion flyers promoting what seems like thousands of shows. The Edinburgh Festival, for its visitors, is party time.
…but with the Ladyboys of Bangkok pumping out a the Black Eyed Peas, Tina Turner and err Jingle Bells until 10.45pm every night, random car alarms, lots fireworks, and drunken people walking home at 4am screaming, for us as residents, it is time to batten down the hatches, keep the cats in (far too much excitement for their little brains) and prepare for very little sleep.
(Btw – what possesses someone to throw a branch at someone’s house javelin style at 1am? let alone more than once; well we think, there was a few bangs before the branch made its dramatic entrance. I hope my over the top screaming gave them a justifiable fright and they won’t do something so pathetic ever again.)
Anyways, despite being called a bigot the last time I wrote a post on the Festival (can you be bigoted towards your own nationality?) and to avoid being accused of being a lost case of bahhhhhumbug I have decided to provide you with a guide to Edinburgh, from a POSITIVE ABOUT THE FESTIVAL (ahem) year round resident.
- Don’t be a sheep. Search out the unusual venues to drink and party in: For example Summerhall is new for this year, has an ace bar, it’s a beautiful building and I’ve been told they have great non luvie shows. Plus they do things like this: so they are on my good list.
- Try to learn the Scottish language, you are in Scotland after all, not another outpost of whatever country you come from: Driech is what we call our weather, saut is salt (we eat a lot of it on chips mostly) bahookie is what I want to kick you up, boak is what you do at 3am, and dinnae fash yersel is what you might hear under someone’s breath if you stop right in front of them in the street.
- Btw it’s Princes Street, not Princess Street. Coh-burn Street not Cock-burn Street. The Castle is there – just look up once in a while and you will see it straight away. You really can’t miss it. Remember never to ask a local where the Castle is or be prepared for a strongly worded response.
- Don’t forget to get away from it all once in a while: The Meadows are a great place to grab a couple of drinks and a bbq and get away from the madding crowds drinking on Astroturf elsewhere. However if the sun is shining, you will find the crowds will follow you there. Watch out for the drum playing Gorilla, he’s my favourite.
- Also, don’t be scared to get on a bus, they are regular and generally pretty reliable. We say thank you to our drivers here. Visit the beach and the Turkish Baths at Portobello (no.26). Visit Cramond and its Island (no.41). Visit Leith (no.22). There is much more to Edinburgh than George Street or the Pleasance if you get out and explore. Plus it costs £1.40 for any journey so it’s cheap too.
- Eat haggis, but eat it in a burrito. Try Illegal Jacks on Lothian Road or Los Cardos on Leith Walk. Also eat a lot of soup: Especially from Union of Genius on Forest Road. I have a table reserved with my name on it, so watch out for me. Its much better than a £5 hot dog. For Sushi you cannot beat Kampai.
- Try proper Scottish craft beer rather than the commercial pish that the venues sell. Look out for Harviestoun Brewery, Inveralmond Brewery, Orkney Brewery and Innis and Gunn (and Brewdog i’ve been pointed out!). Try the Bow Bar, the Blue Blazer, Cloisters, Holyrood 9a, Cask and Barrel (Southside) or the Stockbridge Tap. There are lots of quirky bars to try if you aren’t too scared to stick your head round the door. Plus Holyrood 9a does ace burgers.
- Make sure you have on you at all times: sunglasses, sun cream, an umbrella, a hat, a rain coat, wellies, ear muffs and a weather app. The weather here is more unpredictable than any country that suffers from a monsoon, that is why we have our own name for it (see no. 2)
- You can watch the fireworks from the Castle from all over the city, especially Arthur’s Seat and Bruntsfield Links or Castle Terrace. For free. The best fireworks are on the 1stSeptember, take a radio and a blanket to the Links and you don’t need to brave the crowds on Princes Street.
- Forget trying to get a taxi. Just forget it. There aren’t enough for the rest of the year let alone an extra million people who think it is their right not to have to queue. Take flat shoes if you are going out and be prepared to walk home. If all else fails, get drunk before you attempt. Remember the bars are open til 3am and the clubs until 5am, we don’t get this the rest of the year, despite the well kown Scots love of the drink.
- In my opinion, as a local – the only way to survive the Festival is to not remember a thing during August.
Miss S x
P.s Any other tip from a local to a festival go-er folks?
P.p.s You can check out my Insider’s Guide to Edinburgh over on Cheap Flights too!