180 High Street Edinburgh EH1 1QS 0131 226 0026
This is what most people think of as the Edinburgh Festival, although it started out as merely the 'fringe' of the official International Festival. Its size is mind-blowing: for three or so weeks in August, every available performance space, from church halls to dank basements, are put to use by comedians, theatre groups, dance acts, artists and rank amateurs – while some Fringe shows are highly professional set-ups, there's no restrictions on participation. The numbers are phenomenal: around 1500 shows take place each day across 200 different venues around the city, virtually around-the-clock, and small industries are built on the event, from leaflet printers to review websites. Some mega-venues stand out for hosting star names and a broad range of decent-quality material, among them the Pleasance, Assembly and Guilded Balloon.
Edinburgh is quite hilly, and venues can have lots of stairs, so the Fringe is probably best for children who can walk. Although you can book online, I would recommend getting the official Fringe book, which has a section for children’s shows. We have firm favourites that we like to see every year and would recommend the Amazing Bubble Man, the Spotlites Theatre Co and the Comedy Club for Kids at the Bongo Club (near a Pizza Express for pre-theatre Piccolo meals!). The Bubble Man is good for all ages, but Spotlites and Comedy Club is probably also best appreciated by the over 5s. The good thing about these 3 shows is that they are interactive, which children love. However, we have also seen some brilliant other shows, by both professional and amateur performers. One final piece of advice: as the Edinburgh hotels can be quite pricey at this time of year, why not go over the 2 for 1 days which are usually 2 days side by side? We have done this a couple of years, and crammed in 3 or 4 performances each day. An alternative is to find accommodation in Fife, just across the Forth Bridge: Rosyth, Dunfermline or Inverkeithing are probably closest. Edinburgh is a 25-30 minute drive away, or you can park your car at the Ferrytoll near Inverkeithing for free and take the bus (30-35 mins; free child per adult ticket) from there to Edinburgh, though you need to give yourself plenty of time as there can often be a long queue at Ferrytoll at that time of year. Happy Fringe-going!
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