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Edinburgh Festival Fringe on a Budget

Fringe Festival 2009 on a Budget

Edinburgh is transformed in August, as Scotland's capital hosts the legendary Edinburgh International Festival. But for many visitors, it's the Edinburgh 'Fringe' that steals the show, with over 17,000 performers turning up for the Fringe Festival alone.

Originally a showcase for offbeat talent that couldn't make it to the main stage, the Fringe has come a long way from its humble origins in 1947, and is now one of the biggest arts festivals in the world, and the number one tourist attraction in Britain, showing the best of local, student and up-and-coming comedy, theatre, music, exhibitions and performing arts.

Now in its 63rd year, the 2009 Festival runs from the 7-31st August and looks set to be better than ever. The Fringe prides itself on being an affordable alternative to the main festival, with events happening in venues all over the city. But with show tickets, accommodation and wild nights out on the cards, a trip to the Fringe can work out pricey. Plus with hoards of travelers descending on the city, everything from room rates to drinks prices can skyrocket.

Here are some tips for attending the festival on a budget:

Do Your Research

One of the best things about the Fringe is the diversity of events- shows and exhibitions take place in over 250 venues across the city, from small pubs to huge theatres, and there is no uniform ticket price for each event.

Check the Fringe website and plan the events you really want to see before you visit - with an online program, timetable and venue guide for each event, you can pick the events you really want to see, or choose shows according to the cheapest ticket prices!

The real up-and-coming shows and student theatre are always the cheapest, and can often be as good (and sometimes better) than more well-known acts. The whole point of the Fringe is to fresh new talent, so take a risk on a more offbeat show!

Become a Friend of the Fringe

Become a friend with benefits - log onto the website, pay £18 and become a 'friend' of the festival, and you could make long-term savings. 'Friends' receive a free newsletter and guide to what's on, access to a priority box office and ticket booking hotline (to make sure you get must-have tickets) and best of all, 2 for 1 tickets for the whole of August.

Most shows offer the 2 for 1 deal (over 800 events last year), and by becoming a friend you can buy cheaper advance tickets. The Fringe Society is a registered charity, and your membership fee goes towards putting on free events and services for performers and audiences along the Royal Mile.

Book a Hostel

Booking is essential during Festival season - most hotels are booked up far in advance and some hike up their room rates. Luckily there are loads of Edinburgh Hostels in the city center.

Whether you're looking for a place to meet like-minded festival-goers or just need somewhere to crash post-party, some of the best hostels provide hotel-standard accommodation on a budget, from typical shared dormitories to private ensuite rooms. Make sure you book online in advance, as hostels tend to book up very quickly in August.

Work at the Fringe

Another great way to save on ticket prices (or to not pay at all) is to work at the Fringe. From office-based roles in press and marketing, to working at any of the 250 plus venues across the city, by working at the Fringe you'll not only get to catch some great shows while you work, you'll also be in the heart of all the action, and get to mingle with the performers and party with other workers once the performance is over.

More fun than your average summer job, it's a great way to earn some cash and see some top shows at the same time! Check the Fringe website's job pages for current vacancies.

Party Hard

You can still party hard on a budget - the whole of Edinburgh gets in the festival spirit in August, and the Fringe Society hosts hundreds of free events along the Royal Mile. Many bars, clubs and restaurants offer special deals and discounts to draw punters in during festival season. Some Fringe events have free after-parties, and most clubs and bars stay open until the wee hours.