Its less than a month to go until the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. However, with hotel prices skyrocketing into the thousands per week, train tickets spiralling year on year a lot argue that the festival is inaccessible.
Last year I attended my first fringe and I’ll try my best to outline some ways I think will help you make the trip more affordable.
1) Train Tickets
Whether you’re travelling from London, Birmingham or like me Staffordshire, train tickets can be expensive but it doesn’t always have to be.
Rolled out in full only this year, remember that for those under 31 National Rail recently introduced a new ‘millennial railcard’. You may find you make your money back with this one journey with 1/3 off train tickets. That in itself may help you out.
However, I’m not finished there. Onto the biggest money spinner that everyone can take advantage of, advance tickets. An off-peak return ticket from my local station to Edinburgh via Carlise is £123.90 (with a railcard).
Advance single tickets do have the disadvantage of being very restrictive you can often bag yourself a bargain and that’s what I did. My journey to Edinburgh has cost £20.80 which arrives in Edinburgh before 10:30am. The return journey was even cheaper, setting off after 6:30pm and costing £8.60!
In total that’s £29.40 return, a saving of £94.50. My advice is to get checking on train ticket prices asap as the sooner you book, generally, the cheaper the tickets are.
Accommodation cost came as the biggest shock to me when I started pricing a trip up. Even the most basic B&B can cost around £1,000 for a week! If you book way in advance you may find yourself a bargain as I did for this year, but student accommodation is also worth considering, particularly if you don’t fancy booking something 12 months in advance.
While you may not get breakfast, or a TV in your room, the rooms can be spacious, ensuite and contain all the essentials including free wifi while being in a great location. Don’t forget too that New Town normally gets you better value for money and it’s still only a few minutes walk from a lot of venues.
It’s easy to get carried away when you get the programme pushed through your letterbox and just spend, spend, spend. However, it’s best to resist.
Sure, for those productions that you really want to see, it’s worth booking up fast. However, there’s a huge amount of productions that end up in the Half Price hut which means you can bag your tickets at half the price you were going to pay. There are also some productions that if they have space on the day, you pay what you can.
Not only that but you can often find ticket deals attached to leaflets you’re handed on the Mile and if you’re lucky enough you may even pick up some tickets that companies literally just give away.
If two are planning on going with friends, family or a loved one you may consider buying a friends membership which can give you 2 for 1 tickets for 15 shows. If you do need more than the 15 deals you get, don’t upgrade your membership. Instead, get the second person in your party to buy membership as it does work out cheaper and you get 30 deals in total, rather than the 25 you’d get if you upgrade your membership to the second tier.
4) Discounts on local attractions
With all the hustle and bustle of the Fringe, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you want to take some time out and visit one of the local city attractions like Camera Obscura or Edinburgh Zoo. Camera Obscura is a great way to hide from the rain and if you go there on a rainy day you get a free return ticket.
There’s often discounts to be had here on these attractions too. It may be worth joining up to a scheme such as Kids Pass which gives you discounted deals for days out. While it’s intended for the family market, anyone can join. Although it does cost to join, you gain 12 months of membership and you should find you save way more than you spent purchasing the membership.
With 10% off Camera Obscura, 40% off Edinburgh Dungeons and £14 tickets for Edinburgh zoo vs the online price of £19.95 the savings can mount up.
Don’t forget too, if you don’t want to buy into any schemes, to book your tickets for attractions online as you do bag yourself some extra money there too.
Food is perhaps the trickiest thing to organise. Unless you are staying in a flat, you likely will always be eating out and there’s no getting around it, it can be expensive.
Highstreet chains are well aware of the number of people that need to be fed and so all your favourite discounts are normally non-existent, with handwritten signs covering windows to say offers not available.
It’s worth doing a bit of research before you pack and have a bank of a few different places to choose from around different areas of the city. That way you’re not dashing into the closest place you see which ends up being the most expensive place in the city.
Also, while you are looking around on your way to venues, keep an eye out for the local restaurants trying to attract you with special offers and discounts that are intended to lure you away from well-known chains.
Local supermarket meal deals can be great for a quick lunch and around Edinburgh you’re never far away from a Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local. It’s cheap and cheerful and will get you through the day and get you your Iron Bru fix.
That’s your lot. Last year was my first year at the festival and so hopefully these tips help you out, as they would have done if I had known about them sooner.
Have any more tips? Feel free to comment below!