26 things to see during the last week of the Edinburgh Festival
Edinburgh Festival fireworks

As we enter the final week of the Edinburgh Festival, there’s a certain anxiety that sets in.

Have I made the most of it? Did I miss the best show ever? What will become of the lanyards?

There’s only seven days left to make the most of the biggest arts festival in the world, so allow us to offer some suggestions.

If you want to see something unique

Mogwai
Mogwai – photo: Getty

You could walk up the Royal Mile any day during the Fringe and see something unique, but there’s also opportunities to see some very special shows.

  • The world premiere of Mark Cousins’ documentary Atomic, with a live soundtrack performed by post-rock titans Mogwai (Playhouse, 27-28 Aug, more info)
  • The Nothing Ever Happens Here gig series at Summerhall rounds off a superb August with Grandaddy (22 Aug, sold out), Kevin Morby (24 Aug), Awesome Tapes From Africa (25 Aug), Eska (26 Aug), Withered Hand (27 Aug) and Bill Wells (28 Aug) – more info
  • Today (22 Aug) marks the only performance of A Young Man Dressed as a Gorilla Dressed as an Old Man Sits Rocking in a Rocking Chair for 56 Minutes and Then Leaves (Voodoo Rooms, 6.30pm, more info)
  • Ubu on the Table could quite possibly be the strangest theatre show you’ll see at this year’s Fringe. It stars a Bottle, a Hammer and a Big Teapot (Summerhall, 23-28 Aug, more info)

If you want to see what all the fuss is about

Kieran Hodgson: Maestro
Kieran Hodgson

Nowhere does comedy get as competitive as it does on the Fringe. An early five-star review can set a show on a roll, while a succession of dreaded one-star ratings can cause all kinds of existential dread. Here are some of this year’s most talked about shows:

  • Bridget Christie‘s critical acclaim has become almost predictable at the Fringe, and Mortal is no exception (The Stand, until 29 Aug, 11am, more info – sold out, but check with venue)
  • Kieran Hodgson has emerged as a supremely ambitious talent, so just as well his new show Maestro is about writing a symphony (Voodoo Rooms, until 28 Aug, 9.30pm, more info)
  • Richard Gadd is another who collected five-star reviews like nobody’s business last year, and he’s at it again with Monkey See Monkey Do (Banshee Labyrinth, until 28 Aug, 9.45pm, more info)
  • James Acaster is always the bridesmaid when it comes to the big award, but this could be his year with his latest hour, Reset (Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug, more info – sold out but check with venue)

If you want to take a punt on a free show

rob auton
Rob Auton

You’ve not done the Fringe until you’ve played Fringe roulette, going to a show for no other reason than the title, the flyer, or the recommendation of a friend. Allow us to share our tips…

  • Mae Martin is back with another free show after winning fans last year. It’s a work in progress but her familial anecdotes are still priceless (City Café, until 28 Aug, 9.15pm, more info)
  • Damian Clark is a hyperactive Australian with a knack for making audiences roar with laughter – and he’s still free (Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, until 28 Aug, more info)
  • Rob Auton has also been gaining praise for his new show which all about sleep but will keep you awake and entertained for an hour (Banshee Labyrinth, until 28 Aug, more info)

If you want spectacle

Edinburgh Festival Fireworks
The Edinburgh Festival Fireworks – photo: Alex Watson

Tired of dingy basements that smell of beer? The Festival also knows how to put on a real show too.

  • The Virgin Money Fireworks Concert will ensure the festival ends in an explosion of colour over Edinburgh Castle. Here’s our guide to everything you need to know
  • Dancers, contortionists and high-wire artists come together in The Toad Knew, which promises to be a spectacular festival finale (King’s Theatre, 24-28 Aug, 8pm, more info)
  • Circa have earned an unmatched reputation on the Fringe with their high-intensity circus shows, and with Closer they more than keep their balance (Underbelly, George Square, until 29 Aug, 6.55pm, more info)

If you want some mental stimulation

James Robertson
James Robertson

It’s not all about late-night bars. If you want to broaden your horizons and stretch your synapses, the Book Festival is the place to go. Here are some highlights from the final week (which still have tickets left at time of writing):

  • James Robertson, author of And The Land Lay Still, discusses his new book and Scottish literature (25 Aug, 5pm, more info)
  • Paul Morley is one of the most eminent music writers around, and he’s in town to talk all things Bowie (25 Aug, 7.15pm, more info)
  • The best-selling crime writer Mark Billingham chats with his contemporary Val McDermid (27 Aug, 8.45pm, more info)
  • Jonathan Safran Foer is one of the cleverest writers working today, and he’s at Charlotte Square to unveil his new novel (28 Aug, 8.15pm, more info)

If you want to party

massaoke
Massaoke

Of course there’s no shortage of places for after-show drinks, but if you fancy something a bit different…

  • Crap Music Rave Party is pretty self-explanatory: the joy of music so bad it’s good (Liquid Room, 26 Aug, 11.55pm, more info)
  • Karaoke on a grand scale comes courtesy of Massaoke. Don’t expect glorious harmonies, but do expect a good time (Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 28 Aug, 12am, more info)
  • What better way to round off a night than with some quality soul? Step forward The Katet Plays Stevie Wonder (The Jazz Bar, 24 and 26 Aug, 12am, more info)

Edinburgh Festivals: Full Coverage