As the hub of activity for the 2,500 shows in Edinburgh's largest Festival, the Fringe's central box offices are the first port of call for many arrivals in Edinburgh.

Booking in person

The main box office is conveniently located on the Royal Mile, close to the major venues and the tourist heart of Edinburgh. You can buy all your tickets here in one go; you can pay by cash or card, and there's no booking fee. What's more, the staff are friendly and helpful, and more than willing to share their local knowledge with visitors.

There's a downside of course, and it's a predictable one: the queue at the Fringe box office is legendary. First and foremost, it's outdoors - down an alley at the side of the building - so dress appropriately. Next, be prepared to be descended on by a swarm of off-duty performers, keen to sing, clown, distribute leaflets and generally persuade you to buy a ticket for their show. But most of all, at peak times, expect the queue to be very, very long.

Booking online

If you're planning ahead, the simplest way to book your tickets is online. The only online store which sells tickets for all shows at the Fringe, the official website also carries a searchable programme and even links to reviews.  If you're looking at a show's details here on Fringe Guru, we'll always give you a link directly to the booking page.

For those who prefer the personal touch, especially if you live outside Edinburgh, the Fringe box office runs a phone service (0131 226 0000). It's friendly and tolerably efficient, but like the box office itself it gets overwhelmed during the busiest periods - if you're booking at the last moment you might prefer just to phone the venue.

Now for the bad news: there's an eye-watering 90p booking fee per ticket, both online or by phone. However, there's a limit of £5.40 for a single order - so it's a little cheaper to book a lot of tickets in one go.

Collecting pre-booked tickets

If you've pre-booked your tickets through the Fringe central box office, it's essential that you think about how to collect them before you go to the venue hosting the show. There are three principal collection points in Edinburgh.

  • The main Fringe box office on the Royal Mile.  Whatever you do, though, don't join the long queue down the side alley, which is for people who haven't pre-booked.  Just go into the Fringe shop and down the stairs.
  • The University of Edinburgh Visitor Centre on Bristo Square.  Though it's not all that far from the main box office, this collection point is handily close to a cluster of major Fringe venues, including the Assembly, Pleasance Dome and Gilded Balloon.
  • The Fringe Half Price Hut on Princes Street, at the bottom of the Mound.  This is a useful option if you're going to a show on the north side of the city, because it'll save you a climb up the hill to the Royal Mile.

If you're coming from further afield, you can also take advantage of a collection point at Edinburgh Airport.  In every case, it's a self-service arrangement: you simply need to swipe the card you used to pay, and the machine will dutifully print out your tickets.

All these collection points close at 9pm (with the exception of Edinburgh Airport), so don't leave it too late if you're going to an evening show.

You can also pick up tickets booked with the Fringe at some major venues.  If it's your first time in Edinburgh, it's probably best not to rely on this - it would be too easy to get caught out - but if you happen to see a yellow arrow advertising "Fringe ticket collection", you can save a trip to the box office by swiping your card there and then.