Free the Edinburgh Festivals!
Festival season is in full swing in Edinburgh, with the Fringe and International festival just kicked off, the Art Festival having been on for a week already, with the Book Festival and several more to come. There’s a wealth of talent and performances on offer, and you’d have to be pretty wealthy to see all of it. But it needn’t be expensive, there’s lots of stuff happening for free.
PBH Free Fringe
The grand-daddy (or possible “Crazy Old Uncle” of free shows at the Fringe is the PBH Free Fringe. Started way back in THE PAST by Peter Buckley-Hill in the basement of a pub, it’s now expanded to a diverse range of venues across the city, putting on comedy, music, spoken word, theatre and much more. The shows are free to put on, and any money the performers make comes from donations from audiences pub into a bucket at the end of the show. All the shows are listed on the website, and also in the Wee Blue Book that you can pick up from any PBH venues. Even this little book can seem somewhat overwhelming, but I find a good strategy if you have some free time is to head to the Banshee Labyrinth and go see whatever show is starting next. Particularly if you get there just after 7:30.
A somewhat similar name, and a broadly similar model, the Free Festival puts on a range of shows for free in various venues across the city. But not the same ones as the PBH festival. Oh no.
La Favorita Freestival
There are only so many combinations of the words “Free” “Fringe” or “Festival”, so why not make up a new one! And why not buy some pizza too!
Heroes of the Fringe
A variation on the model – in that tickets can be bought in advance, with any remaining places before the show going under the “pay what you want” model. They have a double-decker bus this year, which is great. As it means you won’t have to go to The Hive so much. Unless, you know, you want to?
Lots of places are putting on free music shows throughout the month. Some of which do so regularly throughout the year, and some just for August. Here are a few of them.
National Museum of Scotland
Free Fringe Music in the galleries at NMS on Chamber Street, each day at 14:00 from a wide range of musicians.
St Giles Cathedral
St Giles continues their weekly “St Giles at 6” concerts on Sunday evenings at 18:00, but there are also concerts going on at lunchtimes throughout the month.
St Mary’s Cathedral
St Mary’s in the West End is also putting on free lunchtime concerts:
St Mary’s Metropolitan
St Mary’s in the East end is also putting on free lunchtime concerts:
Many pubs and clubs and other venues have live music on throughout the day and night, mostly as part of one of the free festivals outlined above. Also other venues featuring free stages, and various one-off events going on around town. Just keep an eye out. Or an ear. Also some cheap(ish) shows going on at Henry’s Cellar Bar:
Pale Imitation Festival: http://songbytoad.com/2015/07/pale-imitation-festival-2015/
Be A Legend: https://www.facebook.com/events/127067267634164/
Other Venues and Festivals
If you don’t want to get flyered, don’t go down the Royal Mile. If you have somewhere to get to very soon, don’t go down the Royal Mile. If you have (perfectly reasonable) aversion to fire eaters and CRUSTY JUGGLERS then… Well, there are many reasons NOT to visit the Royal Mile in August, but I think it’s worth a trip, bearing the above warnings in mind. There are stages at various points between David Hume’s statue at the top of the Mound, and the Tron Kirk where it crosses the Bridges, and there’ll be stuff happening along there all day, and live music in the Tron Kirk. Plus, if it all gets too much, there are plenty of little closes to retreat down.
The BBC tent at Potterow has been a welcome addition to festivalgoers in the last few years, if perhaps not so welcome among the staff and students at the Informatics forum. There are events going on daily (and nightly) in the big blue tent – the website says most of these are “sold out”, but it’s worth asking on the day if there are any spare tickets. Unless it’s Just A Minute.
They often broadcast the shows on the big screen in the garden, where you can listen on headphones. There’s also a small stage in the pink tent/bar where a variety of people perform throughout the day.
Charlotte Square can be a haven of peace and tranquility during an otherwise hectic time. While most of the author events charge, it’s free to go sit in the garden, or browse the bookshops, and the “Jura Unbound” strand of events in the Spiegeltent at 9pm each evening are free to attend, with various literary and spoken word folks appearing:
There are lots of artist events and free performances organised as part of the Art Festival. The “Art Late” events are a fiver this year, but worth going if you can – a great chance to wander round some of the city’s galleries “after hours”, closing with a unique performance.
The good folks at the Forest cafe always put on an interesting series of events throughout August. They’re based down at Out of the Blue at Drill Hall this year, which is just off Leith Walk. http://forestfringe.co.uk/edinburgh2015/
There is also stuff going on the cafe on Tollcross during the day: https://www.facebook.com/events/1632499100330466/
The Tatoo will be setting off fireworks every night from the Castle, and there’s the big display at the end to mark the closing of the EIF. It costs a fair whack to get into the Gardens for that, but there are awesome views from all around the city. I’m fond of Inverleith park. http://www.eif.co.uk/virginmoneyfireworks
There’s doubtless much more that I’ve missed, but keep an eye out, you should be able to find something interesting going on. Although I think this is enough to be going on with