Festival venues, especially on the Fringe, don’t match the normal expectation of a night at the theatre. The larger venues have facilities to rival the West End – including bars, restaurants and occasionally even cloakrooms – but the temporary nature of the whole event makes for a few unique oddities. Here, then, are our five best tips to enjoy your time at the venue.
Check you’re going to the right place
The biggest venues operate out of multiple sites – in some cases, on completely opposite sides of the city. Check your tickets and, if you’re not sure, ring the venue’s box office to ask.
The most notorious confusion in recent years is between Assembly George Square, which is on the south side of the city near to Bristo Square, and The Assembly Rooms, which are on George Street just to the north of the city centre. These venues are entirely separate - and despite the similar-sounding addresses, it takes at least 15 minutes to travel between them.
Whatever you do, don’t drive
Very, very few venues have any parking attached – and that goes for the upmarket theatres of the International Festival as much as it does on the Fringe. On-street parking is heavily controlled too, so we’re serious about this one… use public transport instead.
Prepare to be both wet and hot
There simply isn’t enough space at most Fringe venues to wait for your show indoors - so be dressed to line up outside, whatever the weather. On the other hand, with many shows hosted in crowded, unventilated basements, you're likely to be roasting once you're sitting down. Layering's the key.
Get the drinks in
With very few exceptions, you can take drinks into Fringe venues – so call at the bar on your way in if you’d like a cheeky pint or coffee. Make sure you say you’re taking it into a show, and they’ll give it to you in a plastic glass.
Keep your tickets to hand
They’ll probably come and rip off the stubs while you’re waiting in the queue, but you’ll be checked again at the door. Keep your tickets nearby, and avoid the embarrassment of holding up the queue while you rummage through your backpack.