Navigating the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017

What is your experience of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe? How do you navigate the thousands of shows on offer? Answers welcome on a postcard (or in a comment).

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 programme invites performers and spectators from around the world to join the Alliance of Defiance, as they celebrate 70 years of defying the norm at the Fringe. A great theme, and this August the city has once again swelled with a dizzying amount of comedians, musicians, artists, actors, dancers, acrobats and singers.

How well you are able to navigate the many new venues and shows may be defined by a number of factors: whether you are a visitor or reside here; whether this is your first Fringe attempt or you’re a seasoned pro; whether you have the whole month to explore or just one day. On any given day, the variable Scottish weather may be the tipping point for a good or bad experience!

Image from our 2016 Museum After Hours. Taken by Chris Scott.
Image from our 2016 Museum After Hours. Photo by Chris Scott.

I love the eccentric energy that fills the city during the month of August, but I’ve often found the vast Fringe programme rather daunting. Luckily, I do have some secret weapons…

Firstly, a quick nod to my mum and sisters, who LOVE the Fringe! They set their daily Fringe targets high! However, it’s not just about quantity – they also have a knack for picking good shows.

Secondly, my job – being based at the National Museum of Scotland means I have the Fringe on my doorstep most days. As our museum on Chambers Street is just a couple of minutes from the Royal Mile to the north and a stone’s throw from all the action to the south. Actually, I don’t even need to venture out of the museum, as we have daily performances of Free Fringe Music in our Grand Gallery, a number of Gilded Balloon shows in our Auditorium, plus the brilliant Museum After Hours events.

The museum transforms with #edfringe fever! #nmsafterhours #Edinburgh #igersEdinburgh #ThisisEdinburgh #museum #instamuseum #scotspirit

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So when it comes to Fringe show selection, I have a little help. However, so can you…

Our events team put their heads together with The List to select a range of brilliant Fringe acts for our Museum After Hours events, so all you need to do is get yourself to the National Museum of Scotland. Once you are here, it is easy to navigate and a night at the museum leaves plenty of room for a little spontaneity, as you can select which bits of the evening programme to watch and from where.

Our Giant Irish Elk and friends enjoying The Magnets on the Main Stage. #nmsafterhours #Edfringe #igersEdinburgh #Edinburgh

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There are the three different stages, where you can watch a short taster performance (10-15 minutes). If you like a more intimate setting, the Space Stage is for you. You can get up close as a number of emerging performers entertain with comedy and magic.

Space stage at Museum After hours 2017. Taken by Chris Scott.
Space stage at Museum After hours 2017. Photo by Chris Scott.

If a seat is more your style, you can relax in front of the Hawthornden stage for a selection of comedy. However, do go for a wander in between acts, as it’s a great time to see a little more of the museum galleries, get a drink or get crafting.

Then there’s the main stage in the Grand Gallery, where there’s usually a great mix of music and dance. You can choose your distance, as you can watch from the balcony or the ground level. If you want to get close to the action, arrive a little before the next act is due to begin to get a spot.

#BonnieSelfies at the Museum After Hours. Photo by Chris Scott.
#BonnieSelfies at the Museum After Hours. Photo by Chris Scott.

I was at the Museum After Hours event last Friday, busy sharing video snippets of the evening across the National Museums Scotland Instagram and Twitter channels. It was brilliant to see the museum transform at night: there were objects in the Grand Gallery lit up for the occasion, plus lots of people crafting their own decorative cockades or dressing up for a #BonnieSelfie.

I started up close to the Main Stage this year, as the endearing Reuben Kaye took to the stage. As a fan of sequins, I loved his glamorous outfit. He warmed up the crowd and then entertained with his unique rendition of the 80s song ‘Down Under’ (originally by Men At Work).

I found myself on the Balcony as the second act, Fauna, took to the Main Stage. It was a great position to get an overview of this acrobatic group.

I then went off to explore the rest of the event and arrived back at the main stage just in time to watch the final Tago drumming. They use a mixture of traditional Korean instruments, and there were some gigantic drums on display alongside some captivating movements.

You can explore more moments from Friday 11 August at Museum After Hours in these fantastic photos by Chris Scott.

2017: Museum After Hours

The first two Museum After Hours events have sold out in advance, but there are still tickets left for the final event this Friday 25 August. I’d recommend that you take a look at the programme and get your tickets booked early if you’d like to join us at the museum this year.

If you are just looking for some ideas of shows to see within the Fringe, then taking a look at the line-up from either night of the Museum After Hours is a good place to start.


Museum After Hours: Friday Fringe Takeover takes place at the National Museum of Scotland each August.

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