Comedy? You bet. Theatre? Most definitely. Music? Right on. The Edinburgh Festival will be bringing over 3,000 shows to the cobbled streets and windy back alleys of Auld Reekie.
But with all these festival shows comes a lot of thirsty patrons, looking to soak up that festival atmosphere. August sees a whole host of pop-up bars and permanent fixtures turned up to eleven in order to accommodate the vast amounts of city visitors.
Here’s our round-up of the best temporary bars to soak up that festival atmosphere. If you spot us at any of the following then the first one is on you, yeah?
The Famous Spiegeltent / Stand in the Square
A festival fixture for the second year running, The Stand Comedy club has the laughs spilling from its usual York Place home and out into St Andrew Square – complete with the iconic Famous Spiegeltent too. Stand in the Square proved itself to be a hub of activity last year, complete with pop-up bars, food stalls and music on till late. No disappointing sequels here.
St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, EH2 / website
Bristo Square’s structural makeover is acting as a cattle-grid for the usual bovine comedy spot, but the usual green pastures will be moving around to George Square. This spot will be a few minutes’ walk from the new Meadows circus tent and will no doubt have all the usual buzz that you expect from one of the staple upside down animal hangouts of the Festival Fringe. Astro-turf guaranteed.
George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LH / website
The Bongo Club is once again transformed from a hip Edinburgh nightlife spot into a multi-layered cow stomach (not as gross as that sounds), complete with theatre spaces and one or two sociable drinking spots too. A Fringe presence that is often welcomed by locals and tourists alike, mainly for its cosy shelter from those potentially wet August days.
66 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JX / website
The Royal Dick / Summerhall Courtyard
Summerhall *is* an all-seasons venue of arts and entertainment, more so than ever now with their new ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ gig nights. But the venue certainly comes alive throughout August, with their on site pub The Royal Dick welcoming a whole host of visitors, and a courtyard space full of festival-goers and pop-up bars including in-house brewers Barney’s Beer and Pickering’s Gin. A must-visit spot throughout the Fringe.
Summerhall Place, Edinburgh EH9 1PL / website
La Favorita Freestival, Waverley Arches
Moving on from their previous spot at Cowgatehead, Freestival have secured a pretty spectacular new home at the Waverley Arches – open to the public for the first time in 150 years. The Victorian C-listed building will be transformed from storage space to fully-kitted venue, complete with a courtyard space with drinks and food till the wee small hours. If you’re a believer in creative and affordable new acts – then Freestival is a cause to support. The offer of La Favorita pizza may swing it for us too.
New Waverley Arches, East Market Street, EH8 8BE / website
The Jeremiah Weed Cow Shed
A live music hotspot set amongst haystacks and distilled whisky, The Cow Shed is a pop-up bar bringing the Wild West to the Scottish East with a location that makes this a perfect spot to pull up a haystack after a long day around the Fringe, and a chance to re-enact your favourite Western scenes.
Cowgate, Ediburgh Eh1 1JH / website
The Pleasance Courtyard
The Courtyard has become a staple for thousands of Fringe-goers and with three cafés and seven bars on site, it’s not hard to understand why. You feel right in the heart of the the festival here, with plenty of famous comedians milling around, and parents can feel free to bring the little ones, as there’s a dedicated kid’s zone section to boot.
60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ / website
A former church which becomes an intimate haunt during festival season (before shutting the doors again to a resounding ‘why?’ from the Edinburgh natives). Tron Kirk will be hosting acts throughout the Edinburgh Jazz Festival till late, as well as plenty of informal acoustic gigs throughout August. With food and drink being served from noon until late, this is a great venue to check out for visitors and locals alike – it’s an underused spot with a classic feel.
Hunter Square, Ediburgh, EH1 1QW / website
The Hendrick’s Emporium of Sensorial Submersion
Gin specialists Hendrick’s will be joining the festival’s pop-up visitors with a bar located on George Street. The Emporium of Sensorial Submersion promises to be a old-fashioned style venue with a heavy emphasis on gin-based cocktails. With five experiences planned, including ‘The Quietest Bar on Earth’ and the ‘Sonic Cucumber Bath’, this could be a very intriguing addition to this year’s potential watering holes.
91 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3ES / website
Assembly George Square Gardens
Run by Assembly and home to a number of their venues, the George Square Gardens provide ample space to settle down for a pre-show drink or street food pit stop with friends in their outdoor seating area. It can get busy, but there’s a great atmosphere till 3am at weekends – to reward you for potentially having to wait for a pint.
George Square, EH8 9LH / website
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