The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the biggest in the world, even bigger than Adelaide! So while in Liverpool we went online, found some reasonably priced accommodation and went. The buses are really cheap throughout Great Britain. We scored some amazing deals, which makes travelling around very affordable. Our major legs, London – Liverpool, Liverpool – Glasgow were all around 10 pounds!
The only problem with the Edinburgh Fringe is that there is too much stuff on. Those who know the Adelaide Fringe will understand when I tell you that you could take everything on offer in Adelaide and probably double it! The programme, packed full of shows at various prices, many cheap, runs to hundreds of pages, so it takes an age to wade through it.
There are also heaps of quality ‘free’ shows on offer. You don’t pay to go in, but you make a donation to get out. On top of this you have buskers everywhere, particularly along the Royal Mile, leading up the main street to Edinburgh Castle.
Our accommodation was only five minutes off the main street so we were able to walk everywhere. It’s very hilly and you end up covering a lot of territory and getting a good work-out over the course of the day. Most of the shows run for an hour, so you can schedule your shows about 75 minutes apart. So typically we would wander around and see a couple of shows in the afternoon, a couple of evening shows, dinner and then a couple more shows until around midnight. We met lots of interesting people from all over the world. It was crazy, but great fun.
We did take a break and visit the highlands, Loch Ness and Inverness. Then it was back to the fringe again.
We concentrated almost totally on comedy. Comedians representing Ireland, Scotland, England, America, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, France etc, entertained us and sometimes had us in fits. The audience sizes varied between 200 and 9. The audience of 9 was for a group of three female comedians, plus a compere, who were actually quite good. There were 200 at a show teaching us ‘How to be a German’ and another 200 at a burlesque show featuring two very sexy women and a hilarious Aussie magician (from Adelaide!) in the middle.
One memorable act was this other German guy who made five ping pong balls disappear, by putting them all into his mouth, one at a time. He continued to talk through all this so it became more and more ridiculous. With both cheeks bulging and his mouth full, he too was laughing and tears were coming out of his eyes as well as ours. The audience was in fits.
One of the many great busking performances was a group of guys from Ghana. Incredibly strong and athletic, they treated us to a spectacular gymnastics display. They did pyramids, somersaults and limboed under a pole less than a foot above the ground. Magic.
It must be exhausting for some of the performers. Many go for the full three weeeks and may perform up to five times a day. I overheard one American guy saying he had performed over 100 times. Plus all the socialising! One of his funniest lines was about Barbara Streisand also being affected by the Financial Crisis… she has had to close her personal shopping mall! It affects us all in different ways! A bit like poor old Bill Shorten struggling to make ends meet on $330 000 a year.
There is an amazing array of great venues all over Edinburgh. It seems they all want to be a part of it and they of course are rewarded through sales of food and drink. You wonder how they all survive when the Fringe isn’t on, but apparently being a university town takes care of that! So many superb little pubs, full of character, each one unique. It’s entertaining just doing the rounds, but then you get the entertainment as a bonus. Plus you get to meet lots of people who are also out for a good time, which creates an excellent atmosphere.
We would highly recommend a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, held in August every year. Why not make it a Beatle Week double (see next blog), interspersed with some travel around Great Britain?