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 Festival 2004
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Top Ten Fringe Venues Plus A Lucky Eleven

There are over 15,500 performers and nearly 1,700 shows during August 2004, so variety can be guaranteed on the Edinburgh Fringe. The number of fringe venues can seem a daunting prospect - never fear! The Fringe Programme offers full details on all 316 listed locations, many of them temporary theatres, so expect that things will have that Fringe adaptable spirit. (N.B. One, Wigwam in Bristo Square, will not be erected during the Fringe.)

Here is our Top Ten Fringe Venues for 2004 based on the quality of shows, as well as their accessibilty.

Assembly Rooms (venue 3) 54 George Street.
Quality shows with some of the highest profile performers this festival. Not the cheapest tickets but you can expect to get your money’s worth – memorable performances with first-rate seating, a good view of the stage and a great bar. Most spaces are wheelchair accessible. Check programme or phone for details.

The Bongo Club (venue 143) 37 Holyrood Rd.
The Bongo Club has moved to its new year-round home. This cosy little venue has an interesting line-up throughout the festival. With a broad range of shows and a few special guest appearances, it’s one to start booking tickets for. All shows are wheelchair accessible as is the bar. The café upstairs is not.

C Venues - C (venue 34) Chambers Street, C too (venue 4) St Columba’s by the Castle on Johnston Terrace, C cubed (venue 50) Brodie’s Close – Lawnmarket on the Royal Mile, C o2 (or C Oxygen) (venue 202) Oxygen bar on Infirmary Street, C central (venue 54) Carlton Hotel on North Bridge.
There are five C venues this year – each as rich in new talent as the next. With children’s shows, music, comedy and theatre, it’s a must for festival goers. If you get confused and wind up at the wrong one – don’t panic! All have high standard shows from up-and-coming performers. But just to be clear, keep record of the above information as some are 10 minutes walk way. All have licensed bars/ café’s. Wheelchair users should phone prior to visit as access can be difficult to some spaces or areas in every venue, even in C and C Central..

5065 Lift (Venue 33) Pleasance Courtyard 60 The Pleasance.
This is a smal venue within a venue and is actually a ....lift or elevator if you prefer doing short new plays. To find what's not there look on page 204 of the programme. Access difficult but staff happy to help.

Greyfriars Kirk House (venue 28) 86 Candlemaker Row.
Set in one of Edinburgh’s historical landmarks, this venue promises to deliver some prominent theatrical productions in a wide range of styles. There is also an unlicensed vegetarian restaurant if you decide to have a break from the hubbub of the city. There are steps around the building so disabled/wheelchair users should phone and check prior to visiting.

Gilded Balloon Caves (venue 88) Niddry St South, off Cowgate.
Situated deep underground Edinburgh’s Old Town, these medieval grottos have a spooky atmosphere. If you like diverse performances and ambience all three have an interesting selection to choose from. Cave II has no wheelchair access, whilst Caves I & III have a 5yrd ramp and a couple of steps.

Gilded Balloon @ Teviot (venue 14) Bristo Square.
Without out a doubt, the Teviot has a wealthy offering this fringe. With seven performance spaces, public, private and outdoor bars, as well as cafés and restaurants, it is almost a festival unto itself! Not to be missed! Wheelchair accessible and disabled rest facilities.

Pend Fringe (venue 7) Gateway Theatre, Elm Row.
Host to some of the best international student theatre, this is one to watch if you are interested in checking out hot new talent. There is also a small café. Wheelchair accessible.

Pleasance Courtyard (venue 33) 60 The Pleasance, Pleasance Dome (venue 23)1 Bristo Square.
These bustling venues have some of the fringe’s brightest stars and funniest shows. There are many great performance spaces each overflowing with all kinds of entertainment. Food and drink are served all day. There are some areas that are disabled/wheelchair accessible. Staff are willing to help but ask that enquiries be made before booking. 5065 Lift another venue is in the courtyard.

Sweet on the Royal Mile (venue 39) Radisson SAS Hotel, 80 High Street/Royal Mile.
A real treat! Sweet offers every kind of entertainment with two bars and a restaurant. Well worth a visit. Wheelchair access to Sweet 1 only.

Traverse Theatre (venue 15) Cambridge Street off Lothian Road.
Dedicated to new writing, this theatre offers top-notch shows from around the world. Food and drink are served throughout the day in the busy Traverse bar where Fringe goers, some famous faces among them gather. Disabled/wheelchair assessable.

Underbelly (venue 61) Cowgate, entrances on Cowgate and Victoria Street.
With an exhilarating atmosphere and a powerful programme, make sure you visit the Underbelly at least once this festival. It has a rainbow of performances and boasts the best music in the fringe. There are four licensed bars that are open late and a café with food available. There may be difficulties with wheelchair users, but guide dogs are welcome. Help is available, please phone in advance.

And the lucky eleven just round the corner from The Pend is ....

Scotland's Theatre Gateway (venue7) Elm Row. Info: 0131 317 3972.
Dedicated to work of Scottish origin, this theatre serves festival goers with a true taste of Scotland's international companies. Supported by The Scottish arts Council, rest assured of excellence. Och aye!* There's a exhibition of Scottish theatre photographer Douglas McBride's work in the foyer too. Also, those interested in future theatre study in Edinburgh at QMC can take part in a tour which is held on August 10 at 11am. Licensed foyer bar. Full Disabled access.

*Scots - A exclamation in the positive.

And there are 304 more venues to explore so have fun!
© Georgina Merry 31 July 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com