Whether or not you cross time zones on your way to the city, you'll need to adjust to "Edinburgh Festival Time". The entertainment runs more or less around the clock, but there's a distinct pattern to each day: mornings are quiet, afternoons are busy... and evenings are full-on bedlam. It's different strokes for different folks: some enjoy the tranquillity found only before lunchtime, while others want nothing more than to party the night away.


Not a great deal happens at the Festival before lunchtime. With deserted venues and empty streets, it feels as though the whole city's catching up on some sleep. But if you're out of bed in time, the mornings are a great chance to catch up on reviews, organize tickets... or even seek out some of what Edinburgh has to offer outside the Festival.

Quiet though it is, there are still a few opportunities to tick up your show count before noon. In a nice touch, many early shows include coffee and a croissant - though true trenchermen should be warned that the quantities on offer may not be quite enough to last through to lunchtime.


The Fringe fires up properly at about 1pm, with the first part of its daily programme strong on children's shows, theatre and dance. It needn't be heavy - there are a lot of funny plays on offer, for example - but if you prefer something subtler than in-your-face stand-up, the afternoon programme should suit your style. It's also the best time for music on the Fringe; styles as varied as classical, jazz and a cappella are popular around lunchtime.

If you have time to spare, you could head for the Royal Mile, the cobbled pedestrian street just outside the Fringe box office. Expect it to be really crowded - but expect also to while away an hour watching free show previews, mind-boggling street performers, and the general antics of actors promoting their shows.


As afternoon turns to evening, the Fringe programme swings towards comedy. Stand-up in particular makes a strong showing from around 6pm, and it's now that venues like the Pleasance or Gilded Balloon - with a name for comedy - come into their own. But there's still plenty more on offer, with dance, musicals and theatre continuing until sundown.

The big outdoor bars at the Pleasance Courtyard, Udderbelly and Assembly George Square really get going around now - or if the weather's not so good, try the Gilded Balloon or Pleasance Dome. But steer clear of the very centre of town, to avoid the crowds heading for the Tattoo, which starts most nights at 9pm.


The greater part of the Festival shuts down by midnight, but for a substantial chunk of the Fringe crowd, the party's anything but over. In the wee small hours, the biggest venues are all turned over to comedy-heavy, late-night variety shows, such as the famous Late'n'Live at the Gilded Balloon.

The bars are heaving too until late into the night, so if you have the energy and the stomach for it, there's no need to turn in until the morning. And, with most of the Festival's comedians off-duty until the following night - you might just be surprised who you find on the adjacent bar-stool.