Loud, raucous, chaotic and colourful, it is safe to say the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has it all. Home to the world’s greatest platform for creative freedom and the biggest performance festival on the planet, the annual August festival is renowned for oozing the enthusiasm of Edinburgh. If you’re still playing piggy in the middle, torn between a range of exciting new cities to discover as potential university destinations, the Edinburgh Fringe bears the promise of setting your eyes wholeheartedly on the cultural extravaganza that is Edinburgh. From comedy to theatre to circus to cabaret, from musicals to opera to physical theatre – the festival has something to include everyone. Where energy is infectious and friendships fast made, it is no wonder the character of Edinburgh is so internationally loved. Enter into a theatrical utopia, witness the unstoppable and watch the unimaginable take place as the city transforms to welcome an inspiring array of entertainment from every continent on the globe. With an open invite to the biggest performance party on the planet, you too will be convinced that Edinburgh is the place for you.
Of all years to go, now is the time. Celebrating its 70th anniversary as the festival has roots as far back as 1947, the Fringe 2017 carries hopes to become the wackiest yet. With the cobbled alleyways of Cowgate bursting with performers and historical landmarks morphing into stages, Edinburgh is consumed with creativity. Last year the city saw 50,266 performances, 3,269 shows, 1,731 premieres and all in 294 venues across the duration of August. Boasting the highest level of international recognition, the Edinburgh Fringe has seen many reputable names emerge from the woodwork. It has offered exposure that has helped establish the likes of Rowan Atkinson, Jo Brand, Billy Connelly - even Michael McIntyre and Graham Norton started out in the teaming streets of Old Town.
Live the life of a student before you’ve even got there. Amongst festival-goers, keen performers and simply students who never left, become immersed in the city of Edinburgh and see if you really fit in. With an abundance of entertainment at your fingertips, and the festival, fireworks and new food to try, you won’t know where to start. While the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is definitive of the spirit of the city, it barely scratches the surface with the umpteen possibilities available to pass your student-life by. The proliferation of watering-holes is vast. In between shows, why not test your taste buds with the likes of Ting-Tai Caravan and Boozy Cow at your disposal, not to mention the infamous Teviot nachos. Or even better, pull your finger out and trundle on down to The Auld Hoose by the Pleasance and marvel at the stacked leaning tower of Pisa which is their nacho serving.
Besides the food and the festival, it is needless to say that Edinburgh is a cultural hub all year round. If you fancy a break from the show-stopping wonders, why not take a hike up Arthurs Seat to view the city in its full glory. From the home of Harry Potter at The Elephant House to the Underbelly and the BBC takeover in Bristo square, the options are ongoing. The Royal Botanic Gardens and The International Book Festival are also key players in the culture programme. Amid the unmistakable quartet of ‘the Big Four’ Fringe comedy and theatre venues (the Assembly, the Pleasance, the Gilded Balloon and the Underbelly), don’t forget The Edinburgh Playhouse – currently the UK’s largest non-sporting theatre. With such immense ranges of cultural excursions to discover, it is certainly not surprising that it was Edinburgh that gave spark to the Fringe festival.
Undoubtedly the core of the Fringe festival is centred at The Royal Mile, which provides live entertainment as you have never experienced before. An integral part of the festival, a venture down The Royal Mile is a must when embarking on the Fringe experience. Finding yourself besieged by cast members handing out flyers whilst a fully face-painted actor cartwheels circles around you, the mile is something of a spectacle. As performers descend on the mile to swarm around every inch and corner, you can’t help but be swept up in the infectious buzz. Fixated, enraptured by the energy of Edinburgh, a trip to the Fringe will likely secure Edinburgh’s footing as a high contender for your university destination to say the least. With the University of Edinburgh taking status as the largest landlord of the Fringe, the link between the two is too entwined to deny. Impressively, the festival also gains the accolade of selling the highest number of tickets for any event almost ever, only exceeded by the Olympics and the World Cup. Safe to say, the Edinburgh Fringe really is as magical as the reviews promise. If you’re struggling on the clarity of your list for exciting cities to study in, perhaps a trip to the Fringe is the trick you need.
- By Emily Kong