Backstage at the Fringe: The Local


If aliens landed in Edinburgh during the Fringe, the locals wouldn’t notice. Those that embrace the Fringe would comment on the costumes and frantically search to buy tickets, the less enamoured would complain about more tourists arriving and everyone would moan about the crowded pavements and traffic jams. It is easy to see why some are sceptical of the Fringe – the population is said to double, the many road closures increase and the streets fill with tourists costumed performers. Despite this, the Fringe still has a lot to offer residents that don’t resist. 

Whilst the city’s Royal Mile, leading to the Castle Esplanade, usually offers little to the locals, but comes alive during the festival. The tacky souvenir shops and kilt stores still exist to lure in the tourists but the street buzzes with performers and activity. From guitarists to jugglers and singers to statues, you can spend hours walking up and down the historic street taking in the atmosphere that people from miles away fly into to see, only for the cost of a bus (and maybe one day a tram) fare. The streets throb with the expressions of excited onlookers, not a common site amongst Scottish faces, whilst faces from the television are not uncommon.

After seeing Clive Anderson and Sarah Kendall during a work lunch break, the sense of giddy excitement still exists after eighteen years of Edinburgh life. The streets fill with the sounds of people promoting shows and the surreal experience of Mark Watson walking past his own posters is not uncommon. Comedy still remains the centrepiece of the Fringe, with comedians returning year upon year to their most loved venues. As well as the array of experience comics, many start-up comedians come to the Fringe looking for their big break – one free show a number of years ago boasted Frankie Boyle and Noel Fielding in the same night. One of the great things the Fringe has to offer is its diversity, after seeing a number of comedians one year, there is always the option to see drama, dance, gymnastics, free running or whatever takes your fancy, essential for a resident not to fall out of love with it.

Edinburgh’s residents may moan and complain about the Fringe, we do for the rest of the year as well, but it always has a huge range of shows to offer with top performers from across the globe providing undoubted quality. And even if you are a sceptic that has no interest in the shows or buzz, it’s not all bad, at least the bars are open later…



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