City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Some of the Best of the Edinburgh Fest

By edg - Posted on 01 August 2008


Where's the best place to people watch? Or to feel the sand between your toes? What's the best place to take the kids? Or best show to make plans for world domination? Prepare to tackle the Festival with these recommendations.

The best way to blow your month's budget in a day?
see "A Day With Doug." It's only £7,349 for a ticket (there's just one)
for a day with raucous comedian Doug Stanhope. The ticket price is
roughly the amount of money a comedian loses at the Fringe says
Stanhope. Geddit?

Best place to people watch?
Enclosure 44, Edinburgh Zoo. The latest addition to one of Edinburgh's most popular visitor attractions is an enclosure of seven homo sapiens from DanceBase (pictured) exploring the animal within. 5-16 Aug (not 11), 10am-5pm, feeding time 1-2pm, talks 3pm daily.

Best Fringe venue to play volleyball, build a sandcastle, and feel the sand between your toes?
Soco Urban Garden
in the Cowgate. C venues dumped 250 tonnes of sand at
the Gilded Balloon gap site in the Cowgate creating the biggest sandpit
in Edinburgh. Whether you'll need the factor 45 when you hit Soco's
"beach" is another question knowing the infamous Scottish summer weather. Sun would be nice.

Best place to get over your phobia of bloodsuckers?
Castle Dracula: After performing pneumatically assisted versions of
Shakespeare's Macbeth and Hamlet the Strolling Theatricals are back
with a rubberized interpretation of Bram
Stoker's Goth classic with cloaks, daggers, fangs, and inflatable fort.
(Rocket @Demarco
Roxy Art House
, 31-25 Aug, 00:00)

Best place to see a comedian's mettle tested?
'N' Live at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. The original, long-running, late-night
and lager-fuelled bear-pit. Live comedy at its most gladiatorial. (1-25 Aug, 1am-5am)

Best place to spot a celebrity?
the Edinburgh Film Festival now established in June, celebs are fewer on the ground in Auld
Reekie in August. Although the media goes gaga for it, generally the
Fringe isn't big on celebness. There are a few household names in town, but even when trans-atlantic stars such as Aidan Quinn drop in
for The Exonerated at Assembly, to most he's just another actor doing his
day job. For celebrity-watching, you're going to have to pony up some bigger bucks
to go to the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival (EICC, 22-24 August) for superchef Jamie Oliver, the "King and Queen of Daytime" Richard
& Judy and Sharon Osbourne talking about reality TV. Have I Got New
For You
host Angus Dayton will be offering a wry look at where celebrities came from with his closing
event "Before They Were Famous"

Best place to get your celluloid fix now that the Film Festival has moved to August?
. Inimitable comedian Paul Merton introduces stars of the
silent era - Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Laurel & Hardy - with Neil
Brand's musical accompaniment (8-16 Aug, not 12; 2pm). Sean Connery (in town for his biog
launch) introduces The Hill, and a Connery season. The Hill was probably his best ever performance. There's also a David Lean
restrospective and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on a restored print.

Best act on the Fringe to take your granny?
Opera's Cinderella is an hour-long, outreach "experiment". Enjoy it while it lasts and show your old gran that you are not just staying up late, getting
smashed, and listening to bawdy humour. (Assembly Rooms, 31 July -2 Aug, 5.45pm)

Best place to watch a stripping granny?
The Argyle bar: Queenie (aka Lynn Ruth Miller), the San Franciscan "senile stripper", is taking it off for the Seniors in Aging is Amazing. 3-25 Aug, free.

Best places to take the kids on the Fringe?
The Edinburgh International Book Festival is children-friendly, interactive, and educational. It even has a
separate children's events diary on every alternate page of its
brochure. Which is as you'd expect in a city that bore a certain
legendry, bespectacled, kid wizard.

Best place to watch a 12-year-old kid cracking gags on stage?
Teviot Place. That's where Eros Vlahos the most precocious standup
comic on the circuit does his Problem Child show. (7-17 August, 3.50pm)

Best show for things that you really shouldn't try at home?
Rose and his circus of freaks returns to the Fringe after an absence of
several years with "his most shocking show ever." Past shows involved
lifting heavy weights with pierced body parts, live stomach pumping,
suffocation, and crunching down light bulbs. Be prepared to be
disgusted. (Udderbelly's Pasture, throughout August, 11.45pm)

Longest farce on the Fringe
The Edinburgh Fringe Box Office trying to get their ticket machine to work properly (see story).

Most ludicrous venue?
Udderbelly's Pasture. The up-turned purple cow is a difficult one to top.

Best dressed boys on the Fringe?
The Lady Boys of Bangkok. All out glam. (throughout August, 7pm/9.15pm, Meadows Theatre Big Tops, the Meadows)

Brendon BurnsBest surname to have to be a successful Fringe comedian?
Anything that sounds like Burn(s).
Case in point: Jason Byrne,
the Irish improvisator par excellence who headlines at Assembly with his
peculiarly titled Cats Under Mats, Having Chats With Bats. Or long-time
Fringe fave Ed Byrne, whose new show Different Class (Assembly Rooms) has been the most popular at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival web site; or Brendon Burns (pictured) who won the 2007 IF Comedy Award for his foul-mouthed diatribes against our socially sanitised times last year and is at the Assembly Rooms with F**K You I'm Brendon F**king Burns (Again) Part VI.

Best way to renew your interest in sketch comedy?
of Ants. In spite of the legendry status of Monty Python, sketch comedy
these days has gone off the boil. With their polished, fast-paced wit,
this foursome make it fresh and funny (Pleasance Courtyard, 3-25 Aug).

Best way to laugh and make the world a better place?
Amnesty International's Stand-up for Freedom: two separate nights (6th & 13th) of stand-up comedy at the Assembly Hall with some top comedians including Rich Hall, some Burn(s) fellahs,
Andrew Maxwell, and others. All proceeds go to Amnesty's work on human

Best place to see some serious thesping?
The Traverse. Although Steven Berkoff's adaptation of On the Waterfront (he's directing a cast of 12) is an exciting prospect too. (Pleasance Courtyard, 31 July-25 Aug)

Best amateur show to laugh at where the performers wont be (mortally) offended?
Really Terrible Orchestra. As the name suggests, lack of musical talent
hasn't stopped this group of musicians performing in public. Just
listen to their rendition of Yellow Submarine. Superb! (Canongate Kirk, 31st August, 4pm)

Best free show without the word "free" branded on it?
There's a surprising amount of free live shows these days, much of it an unknown quantity. It's too easy to take for granted, because they've been free for years, but there's often some excellent free shows at Edinburgh's art galleries. Take The Vanity Fair Portraits at the Portrait Gallery, for example. Try the Edinburgh Art Festival for more.

The best place to take the festival slowly?
When the pace all gets a bit much there's the book festival at the Charlotte Square Gardens (and you can bring the kids - see above). Take in an author's reading,
or pick up a hot drink, pull up an armchair on the lawn, and have a
good read.

Best event to spur on your plans for world domination?
Brush shoulders with television's mightiest at the Edinburgh Television Festival,
then head over to this year's Futureview address by "Here Comes
Everybody" author and commentator Clay Shirky who will be talking about
how social networking sites are changing the world.

Best fest to geek out to?
Edinburgh Interactive Festival at the EICC
out the free-to-enter Games Feature Area in the Strathblane Hall of the
EICC where you can play the latest titles from top publishers Nintendo,
Sony and Codemasters.

Best out-of-the-way folk venue that's really quite close to the city centre?
The Acoustic Music Centre at St Brides. There's a big line-up of music for a more rootsy orientated audience (Bert Jansch, Dick Gaughan, North
Sea Gas, Tam White). The venue is really very close to city centre. Hop
on the train from Waverley Station to Haymarket and you can walk in 5
minutes to the venue.

Best cheap meal in Fringe-ville that's not been deep fried?
Baked potato shop on Cockburn street. It's central, it's fast, it hits the spot.

Best vegetarian nosh?
David Bann, 56-58 St Mary's Street. Pricey, but worth every penny. A veggie gourmand's delight.

Best place to get away to when the festival becomes all too much?
Edinburgh is endowed with many parks: Princes Street Gardens, Holyrood Park, the Royal Botanic Garden, Inverleith Park, the list goes on...