Exiting the bus station in Edinburgh, Scotland I’m lured down the street toward the distant sounds of street music and cheering crowds on Princes Street that mingle alluringly with the more immediate rush of cars and the other pedestrians vying for space on the sidewalk. I’ve got two hours to kill before my host for the next week gets off of work and that means wandering the streets of Edinburgh in search of entertainment and grub.
Stepping foot in Edinburgh was a culminating moment for me – in high school I dreamed of attending university in the city but abandoned that plan in favor of a full-ride to a state school (and a summer study abroad in Italy, so don’t feel too bad for me!). And years later, when temperatures soared in the intense dry heat of August in Los Angeles, my acting buddies and I dreamed big about taking a group trip to watch the myriad of Fringe Festival shows that annually take over the small city for nearly the entire month of August.
So when I made the choice to take this RTW trip, Scotland was plunked down into the itinerary for August as a non-negotiable. The Fringe has been an annual event in Scotland for more than 60 years and is the largest arts festival in the world. One of the biggest lures is the fact that it’s unjuried – that means anyone can take their show to the Fringe and there isn’t a selection committee there stifling any creative and experimental theatre.
The city swells in size during August and Fringe madness takes over in more than 265 venues spread across the city. I wikipedia’d the Fringe and was actually amazed that this year there roughly 1,300 performances took place each of the 25 days of Fringe – holy crap!
I lucked out majorly with free accommodation for the week with David, a Scottish guy who I met way back in Australia so many months ago. I think as a backpacker the city is pretty cost-prohibitive and without the free stay I would not have been able to stay for the full week. That being said, couchsurfing is huge during August and the residents are used to taking in poor souls desperate for some Fringe fun; I had several offers of floor space around the city if David fell through.
Another stroke of luck? Connecting with Andy Hayes via twitter and the internet prior to arriving in Edinburgh; Andy had a press pass to the shows as a reviewer and my selection criteria for the shows were pretty simple, I asked Andy which shows he would see again if he could.
I took that mottled list of comedies, musicals, more musicals, theatrical drama, and a touch of risqué experimental dance and formed my outline of shows for the week of Fringe shows.
Stay tuned this week for more pictures and fun stories from Fringe, the city, and an awesome Edinburgh Twitter coffee meet-up.
***A thanks to other Flickr users for allowing me to use these photos I was so caught up in the action that Iwoefully slacked on taking my own photos that week! Mario Cutroneo, Taylor Dundee, Rayan Jeroen***