It's festival time in Edinburgh, and for me that means taking a week off to see as many shows as possible (I think I went to about 40 last year, but it's easy to lose count!). Over the last 10 years I've developed a few tactics to make my money go further and get the most out of the festival month.
Copyright VisitScotland / Kenny Lam, all rights reserved
During the Festivals the Royal Mile fills up with street performers, and so does the space by the National Galleries on The Mound. You can join the crowd and see everything from musicians to jugglers, contortionists and magicians. There's always audience participation. Many Fringe shows also do slots on a temporary stage on the Royal Mile, as a kind of advert, with several troupes taking the stage back-to-back.
Many promoters will offer 2 for 1 tickets to their Fringe shows if they want to fill a venue. If you have a few free hours, sit in the Pleasance Courtyard or in the bars at Bristo Square. You're especially likely to be offered bargain tickets if a show is expecting critics or reviewers, or if it's a week night when fewer people are out and about (I've received free ones this way too).
You can also do some digital lurking. Keep an eye on the social media feeds and apps from the Festivals and local media, and you'll often find extra dates, cheap tickets or exclusive events that don't appear in official programmes.
People to follow on Twitter:
The Book Festival could keep you occupied for the whole of your time in Edinburgh, and many of its events sell out quickly. On most nights during the Book Festival, from 9-11pm there's a free show in the Charlotte Square Spiegeltent called Jura Unbound
Last year I saw Arctic poets, story-tellers and fabulous world music from Inuit musicians. The show has the air of a cabaret, with tables in front of the stage and booths at the back. It's different every night, playing on the themes of the wider Book Festival, and you don't need a ticket (but if you arrive late there may not be any seats!). There's a bar and last year I was plied with free whisky, from their sponsors, Jura. This is also a good way to get a taster of the other shows on offer, so that you can be sure you're picking performers you'll love.
If like me you're planning a full-on festival binge, and intend to see as many shows as you can, you might consider joining Friends of the Fringe. You can sign up for £30, and are then entitled to 2 for 1 tickets for up to 15 shows (2 per show). There are other tiers of membership which give you a greater number of 2 for 1 tickets, with up to six tickets per show.
This is especially good if you have large group - you could even split the cost of the membership between you. I saved a lot of money last year. As a friend you can also save time by skipping the queues for tickets with priority box office (very satisfying!).