10 secrets of being a good Edinburgh Festival visitor
Edinburgh tourists

Tourists, Edinburgh loves them. But if you want to be a good Festival visitor, here are our top tips…

Edinburgh tourists
[Not pictured – Hundreds of people waiting for a break in the photo shoot: Getty]

The Fringe sees a huge influx of people visiting the fair streets of the ‘Burgh, and with the masses of people often arriving for the first time there can be certain courtesy issues.

We’re not going full UKIP –  the people of Edinburgh are happy to embrace the tour buses with open arms. But for the sake of those city natives who will be hosting the largest arts festival in the world, here are a few points to keep in mind about Edinburgh tourist etiquette and making the most of the festival.

1. Narrow streets are not a photo shoot location


Yes, the architecture is stunning and that particular shade of brick really does complement your eyes. However, whilst your taking the time to get the correct Instagram filter and your best side, there are many people who are just looking to get to work/home/not be an extra in your tourist snaps. Take your holiday photos in more spacious locations  so locals can slip past like a stealthy salmon, and you will notice a sharp decrease in narrow-eyed locals in the background of your shots.

2. A kilt is not a skirt

A kilt is not a skirt, Scottish people don’t live on a diet of battered Mars bars, they are aware that it rains a lot but a sunny day in Edinburgh isn’t a ‘shock’… Essentially, avoid the stereotypical jokes, as Edinburgh locals have heard them all before and they’ve stopped being funny. (Note: this applies doubly to travelling comedians.)

 3. No means no, flyer merchants

If by some terrible twist of fate or act of necessity an Edinburgh local happens to wander upon the Royal Mile, then by all means offer your show’s flyer once – but if the hands are firmly within pockets and a polite ‘no thanks’ is given then accept that you’re not going to reel in this particular fish. If you continue to bombard with a funny dance or by shouting after them down the street, then locals can’t be held responsible for the potential for some choice language.

4. The money is different, try not to worry

chang squinting

If you have indeed crossed the border between England and Scotland, then yes – there will be Scottish notes that look a bit different. Try not to act as if you have just been handed a wad of Ugandan dollars: it is indeed legal tender.

5. Comic timing is everything

It’s 8:45am, the bus is packed and an aeon away from your place of work. You’ve just managed to remove the last bit of sleep from your eye when suddenly an impromptu performance arts piece breaks out in the aisle, as a man juggles whilst performing lines from Hamlet. Natives are happy to be entertained but there has to be some time considerations.

6. London jokes aren’t funny outside London

You may have a comic observation about Clapham that absolutely kills in erm, Clapham but if your joke relies solely on knowledge of a particular suburb of London then it’s probably going to bomb when you’re over 300 miles away.

7. Don’t complain about accent barriers


There will be moments of regional differences and language barriers and that’s totally OK – just don’t expect everyone to sound as soft and clear as a Taggart character – there will be some heavy dialect. Embrace it.

8. Never ask if people ‘actually live here’

The one question that can make an Edinburgh local’s blood boil quicker than anything else. Yes, people do indeed live in Edinburgh – it’s not a theme park built solely for the purpose of festival tourists. The castle isn’t a pop-up attraction that gets flattened and loaded into a truck, and the locals don’t migrate en masse back to medieval hovels somewhere up in the glens.

9. Americans, no one remembers your Nan’s Scottish uncle

Americans, the Scots are happy to have you, but you may be able to spot their eyes glaze over when you mention that your distant relative was part of the ‘MacDougal clan’ or that you’ve always felt pangs of patriotism when looking at shortbread biscuit tins. You’re from the land of the free and the home of the brave – they love you for being Americans, not for being the great-great-great-great-great grandson of Chieftain Murdo McWhatever.

10. This isn’t England


We have nothing against our friends south of the border, but Scotland isn’t a county just north of Northumberland.

• One final point to make is that Scotland is one of the most welcoming countries in the world. We’re an open-minded, understanding people for the most part, and this guide is just a tongue-in-cheek insight into a few well known gripes.

What advice would you give Fringe visitors?

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