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Home Exchange and the Edinburgh Festivals

by John Mensinger on August 28, 2012

Scotland is home to the world’s largest arts festival, known as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This August there were over 40,000 performances of 2,500 different shows at 250 different venues across the city. The Fringe attracts hundreds of thousands and hotels are expensive and full. An economical alternative—find a house swap. We traded our home in California for a lovely bungalow in Fife, which is across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh.

It was a five minute drive to the train station, with free parking. A round trip off-peak ticket to Edinburgh was less than six pounds, the journey taking less than a half hour. The Fringe is vibrant and confusing. Throughout the city there are street performers—they may be singing, acting, dancing, or showing you how to use a whip. Shows and experiences are promoted aggressively—if you stop moving touts will shove cards into your hand promoting their show. The promoters are often in costume. One chorus moved up and down the Royal Mile singing songs from their show about a famous Austrian dictator.

The leading category is comedy, but there is also drama, dance, musicals, and concerts. Local museums have special exhibitions and there are experiences—you can listen to a lecture from a celebrity or taste Scotch whiskey. Ticket prices range from free to 20 pounds, which seems reasonable, though many performances only last an hour. You can buy discounted tickets at the Virgin Half Price hut and for two days at the start of the festival there are many 2-for-1 offers.

We enjoyed Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company. The theatre was small; it was wonderful to be in the center, tenth row from the stage, complete with live orchestra. More off the wall was the Fitzrovia Radio Hour, a spoof of a 1940’s style radio show with wacky sound effects and wackier performers. Funny, but don’t sit in the front row without waterproof clothing. The Whisky Comedian uses humor and four letter words as he discusses Scotch. It is advertised as comedic lecture and whisky tasting but is not recommended as it is too much of the former and almost none of the latter.

Edinburgh has many festivals besides the Fringe. Home exchange is a great way to experience them and one of the world’s great cities.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Brian Luckhurst August 29, 2012 at 4:54 AM

Two great concepts John – Home Exchanging and The Edinburgh Festival! Like you, we spent some time this year in the city and went to a few fringe performances all of which were great, although in the past we have seen some not so good but that’s all part of the fun and the experience of festival time.

It can all seem a touch chaotic but it is all well organised considering how much is going on.

Visit Edinburgh and enjoy it especially if it is via a home exchange.

Brian Luckhurst

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