The amorphous Edinburgh Festival Fringe is by far world's largest arts festival, spanning over 250 venues across the city centre. Its sheer size and variety makes for some unusually complex ticketing arrangements - and if you want to get your tickets without spending your days in queues, it's well worth getting your head around them before you come to Edinburgh.
If you remember nothing else about Fringe ticketing, remember this: there are two completely different ways of getting tickets for Fringe shows. You can either buy through the central box office run by the Fringe itself, or go directly through the venue (or chain of venues) hosting the performance. With the right choice, you'll breeze straight into the show; picking the wrong option will condemn you to a frustrating mile-long schlep to a box office on the wrong side of the city.
When to choose the Fringe central box office
Buy your tickets from the Fringe central box office if...
- You're planning a whole day with several shows across different venues - because with the central box office, you can collect all your tickets in one place.
- You're booking more than six tickets, espcially if they're at different venues - because for big orders, booking through the central office will usually save on fees.
- You want to pre-book tickets for smaller venues - because small venues' box offices are often only open just before the show.
But bear in mind that...
- Unless you are booking early enough to have your tickets posted, you will have to collect them from a Fringe outlet - which may be some distance from the venue.
- For some venues, the Fringe sells tickets from a limited allocation, which usually sells out first.
When to choose the venue's box office
Buy your tickets from the venue's box office if...
- You're just getting one or two tickets for a single venue - because it's usually more convenient to book directly in that case.
- You want to go straight to the venue - because when you book directly, you can pick up your tickets at the venue itself.
- You're booking in person for a major venue - because most of the major chains have extensive box office networks and can sell each other's tickets.
But bear in mind that...
- You can only buy tickets for shows at this particular venue, or "allied" venues in some cases.
- Some smaller venues don't have online or even phone booking systems, so you'll need to go there in person.