Free Shows at Edinburgh's Festivals

In all the Edinburgh Festivals that I've been at over the last couple of decades there's always been plenty of free shows. I'm not just talking about the street entertainers and musicians that are out in numbers on the Royal Mile and outside the National Galleries, but full shows indoors. And while you don't get anything for free, where the festival is concerned that's more the case for people putting on the shows than punters.

With Fringe tickets anything from a fiver at some of the smaller venues to typically £10-£12 at somewhere like Assembly, many may be reluctant to take a chance on something they know little about.

So, to ask the obvious, why are shows free? Shows, even good quality ones, are free because theatre companies and performers want to get bums on seats. Many companies are here with new shows. They've been working weeks, even months on their shows and they are looking for good publicity and press reviews. Trouble is there are hundreds of other shows every day.

Most don't have the budgets, or time for big advertising campaigns, so at this crucial early stage of the festival, performers want to make sure that when they unveil the show to the world that it is not just to a handful of critics scribbling away in the front row.

Offer people freebies, the audiences are going to be bigger, and the performers and the audience will feel more comfortable. The conditions are going to be ripe for those early shows to be a success and garner good reviews and word-of-mouth.

Right now - as the Fringe gears up - there are plenty of free shows to be found. Some are advertised. Sometimes it's just a matter of turning up to one of the big venues and finding yourself being offered a free ticket as they pack the auditorium because the press are in.

If you want to be sure of a seat for a show that's already got good buzz then you might have to get the ticket at a reduced rate. Free or reduced, though, as soon as the 4 and 5 star reviews come out for that show the honeymoon will be over.

But not always. There are now 300 shows and 17 venues listed in the Fringe Program that are free throughout the festival.

Find out more on our Free Edinburgh Festival Guide

All theatred out?

What about trying something different? Head straight for the Edinburgh Central Mosque at 50 Potterrow and catch the free Discover Islam Exhibition.
Open 12.00 - 18.00 (Fridays 14.00 - 18.00) August 1 - 31.

On Saturday try teas from Islamic countries such as Morocco, on August 13th try Muslim cuisine, August 20th is a coffee day and sweets from Islamic countries can be sampled on August 27th.

And if you are in the area and you can't wait for any of the above dates, you must try the Mosque Kitchen. Fast becoming an Edinburgh institution. Big bowls of gorgeous lamb or chicken curry and rice for £3.50, with Naan breads and various vegetable dishs at 50p. It's open air but covered.
Open 10.00 - 19.00 (Fridays shut 1.30 - 14.00)