The Low Down :: Fringe Festival

IMG_8427Every year during the month of August, the Fringe Festival runs in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Fringe claims to be the largest arts festival in the world, and I believe it. Let’s just say we ordered a programme / schedule ahead of the festival, and it was bigger than most of my text books from university.  Acts are extremely diverse, and our selection included the likes of music performances, dance, stand-up, monologues, theatre, cabaret & variety, drag shows and magic & hypnosis.

I first heard of the existence of the Fringe Festival during my first project in London, when I was on a team of Scotsman. Naturally they bigged-up the event, and naturally I was skeptical of its greatness. Just because a Delawarian boasts of the annual Punkin Chunkin event doesn’t mean that it’s suitable for everyone … or anyone, really.

IMG_8346

Rumours of this festival’s eminence, however, seemed to pervade conversations and recommendations from other circles, and it was this year that we decided to take the plunge and check it out.

It’s worth noting that Edinburgh, where the Fringe takes place, is worth the visit in its own right. Edinburgh has a castle on a hill that is utterly magnificent; but I’d goes as far as to say the whole city is a giant castle…!  In the event that you can’t make it to Edinburgh in August for the festival, I highly suggest checking it out any time of the year. I have a feeling the Fringe vibe persists the whole year round, and let’s be honest, Scottish accents sound amazing.

The Fringe, I will be honest, was a bit overwhelming for a first-timer, so I’ve pulled together some tips below ::

How do I know which shows to see?

Honestly? Just Guess! All the shows will be entertaining, and there’s honestly way too much going on to try to understand everything & prioritise.

We downloaded the daily PDF show listing, picked the time for the first show we wanted to see, then used the times as our guide. You can see the genre of the act & read a blurb on the website to get a feel for what you may or may not sign up for.  We literally flew blind and purchased tickets for a few shows a day & gave it a go.

Also, if you download the Fringe app, you can search for shows that will be showing in your vicinity. Pretty cool, hey!?

The last option is to walk The Royal Mile (the main big street in the old town), and wait for people to hand you hundreds of flyers for their shows. Pick the ones you like, then go to either the main ticket booths or the venue box offices.

So how much are tickets?

There are a few different pricing schemes at the Fringe, but full price tickets (at least the shows we went for) were between £6 – £15. If you buy tickets online ahead of time, they have these sweet machines that allow you to swipe your card and all your purchased tickets pop out at you.

There’s also a half-price ticket booth, so if you’re really not fussed, you can show up and buy some tickets at discounted prices for shows throughout the day.

IMG_8402

Lastly, there are boat loads of “free” shows at the Fringe as well. However, I must have heard 100s of times that these shows are “free to enter” but they’re not “free to leave,” and the performers will ask for donations for what you thought the show was worth at the end of the performance.

How early should I arrive to the shows?

Generally, I’d get there 15 minutes early if you want to guarantee yourself a good seat (or a seat at all). If you’re not too fussed about Standing Room Only, then I’d say try to get there with 5 mins to spare so you have enough time to grab a beer for the show 🙂

How to get there from London?

Train or plane. It’s up to you, really! Flights from London City are pretty good if you live centrally, and they’re not too expensive. We flew, but others preferred to train it up. The choice is yours!

Where should I stay?IMG_1873

Central! Edinburgh really isn’t that big, and you can pretty much walk anywhere you need to go within 20 minutes. Stay towards the central part of the city if you can, it is totally worth it.

If you get stuck outside of the centre, however, there seems to be an excellent bus system as well as a tram. And then there’s always Uber.

What else could I be doing whilst in Edinburgh?

  • Take a quick hike up to Arthur’s Seat, which is a dormant volcano & has incredible views of the city and the water near by
  • Visit the old town, bask in the incredible architecture
  • Visit the castle, also apparently built on top of a volcano
  • Go for a walking tour! We didn’t do this in Edinburgh, but had we not been surrounded by thousands of people, this would have been on the list

Anything in particular I should be eating?

  • Haggis, if you don’t care to know what’s in it
  • Scotch, duh
  • Tablet. Tablet is essentially the Scottish version of FUDGE and it is TO DIE FOR!!!!
  • Oh and this pork roast from Oink!

fullsizeoutput_13da

 

 

 

 

 

Park Series #1: Clapham Common

Park 1/ ?? of The London Park Series

  • Park: Clapham CommonIMG_2452
  • Great For: Boozy Picnics, Fitness-ing, quiet peaceful walks (though most likely not very peaceful on sunny weekends)
  • Surrounding Area Highlights: Clapham Old Town, Abbeyville Village
  • Tube Stops: Clapham Common, Clapham South (Northern Line).  Note: both have corner shops / grocery shops close by, with a wider selection at the Clapham Common stop

Starting off right with the park that hits closest to home, let’s take a look at Clapham Common.

IMG_8794The emerald of South West London, this massive green space is home to what seems to be hundreds of fitness bootcampers, dogs and puppies abound, sunbathing ex-pats, and every person within a 1-mile radius on a sunny day, equipped with enough tinnies and bevvies to take out a small army.

I wouldn’t say this park is super classy, nor is it particularly geared for children without parental supervision.  From having lived in this area for almost 3 years, it is fair to say that this park is a playground for young adults (primarily yuppies I might add, and being one myself makes it fair to make this statement) who want to either get their fitness on, their drink on, or their dance on.

That being said — this park is still incredible and makes my heart all warm and happy.fullsizeoutput_105e

This park is a perfect location for a boozy picnic on a sunny day.  Get off at the Clapham Common tube station if you want greater access to shops to buy beverages and other picnic snacks. MAKE SURE you actually walk deep-ish into the park.  There are sooo many people who stop and squat right at the first little triangle closest to the tube. DO NOT BE THIS PERSON!  Take 10 extra minutes and walk into the park as far as you can. You’ll find your way out again, it’s really not that big.

IMG_2471
The Calf – great local pub in Clapham Old Town

If you want to stay and explore the area, then there are two locations close by: Abbeyville Village and Clapham Old Town.  Put ’em in your phone and have a wander.  Both spots are SUPER cute, with lots of bars and restaurants to make everyone happy.

Other things worth noting — on Saturdays there’s a little market on Venn Street that is totally worth a visit. Think … hog roast, empanadas, organic veggies … get it!!

Jam Series #1: Zigfrid von Underbelly

Part 1/50 of The London Jam Seriesfullsizeoutput_13b9

  • Location: Zigfrid von Underbelly, Hoxton Square
  • What’s On: Awesome Blues & Burlesque
  • Date: 12 August 2017

For our first post in the Jam Series, I take you to Zigfrid von Underbelly in Hoxton Square.

“Zigfrid von Underbelly was born: a home from home eating, drinking and thinking establishment aimed at people who believe “free your mind and your ass will follow.””

This venue is quirky as hell and I absolutely love it. It’s got a crazy-a$$ back story about some polish/russian dude who went to Berlin in the 70s, ended up at Microsoft (?), fullsizeoutput_13bebecame part of punk life in London, and opened this “home from home.”  I have no idea how true it is, but it’s a totally entertaining story either way. Check it out on the website.

The show was fantastic.

In a nutshell, two guys played some blues, and two girls randomly came out during the songs to do some burlesque-y things.

Dipsh*t moment on my part — I had NO idea that burlesque was a more polite / old school style of stripping. I actually don’t know what I expected… but it wasn’t that. Helloooooo nipple tassles!!! It was amazing! Who doesn’t love boobs, let’s be serious.

Here are some pics I took from the website that are much better than the ones on my phone, and a few videos of the guys playing the blues. I didn’t take any videos of the girls dancing, that doesn’t seem right! Enjoy

fullsizeoutput_13c3
photo taken from Ziggys website
fullsizeoutput_13c2
photo taken from Ziggys website