A ‘native to native’ guide to surviving Edinburgh Festival


AUGUST IN EDINBURGH means one thing: The Festival. For most of Edinburgh’s permanent or recently adopted residents, this month long gathering of Britain’s finest humanities graduates (either in the show or, more probably, behind the bar) is a bit of a double edged rubber sword.

On the one hand, we can drink for about 20 hours of the day like Scottish people were bred to do (all the good hours too, leaving just enough respite for a nap and a fry-up between 5am and 10am). Edinburgh is full of life and sunshine and light entertainment and festivities. Almost everyone can get some sort of part time job, as long as they know how to pour things or juggle fire or cycle short distances with fat tourists strapped to their bikes.

But therein lies the problem. The fat tourists. The busy streets of pushy promoters and dawdling holidaymakers who cause your commute to anywhere to triple in length and hassle. The assumption by everyone that your home city is theirs to enjoy and abuse, like some sort of cultural Centre-Parcs. One minute, your quiet local comprises only of the friends, staff and fellow alcoholics you have chosen to spend your days with – the next, it’s some sort of makeshift jazz venue with a wine list and unexplained 50p surcharges on beer mats and toilet visits.

To help fellow natives struggling to keep emotionally afloat during this exciting but difficult month, we have very kindly come up with some hints and tips on how to not only survive, but thrive, in Edinburgh Festival.  We were going to give a comprehensive list of shortcuts, untouched drinking holes and indications of where you can find cheap ticket sales, but I feel like that might be too obvious. Lets make like a mime artist and think outside the invisible box here.


martin robertson

Edinburgh Festival is famed for its cultural diversity. The majority of Edinburgh’s August residents are strangers to these parts so will be unsure of our usual social norms. They are also usually self-described liberals who will be far too embarrassed or principled to mention any funny traits you decide to adopt. Take this opportunity to recreate yourself for the month. Try out a new look, practice a hilarious walk or test out your impression of any accent you like for the festival’s entirety. There are enough w*nkers pretending to be something that they’re not that you’ll fit right in.  If you are Scottish,  my personal recommendation would be for you to try faking your own accent in an exaggerated, stereotyped “och-aye-the-noo” way to confuse Edinburgh locals and tourists alike. Textbook Festival Double Bluff.

#2: Get Political…

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