One of my favourite things about the Edinburgh Fringe is the variety of venues. The entire city gets involved, with churches, pubs, museums, council buildings and various other premises hosting productions daily. As a spectator, you can walk and travel miles throughout a visit to the festival, moving between locations across the city.
As a follow up to my first timers article last year, I thought I’d share some more information on the different venues. There are lots just waiting to be explored and this list encompasses the many spaces that are run by the big four: Assembly Hall, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance and Underbelly. As a disclaimer, I have been to the festival twice and am gradually visiting more festival locations across trips. Realistically it will take me many visits to even cover the big four, so this piece features the venues that I have visited thus far.
Greenside @ Riddles Court
One of my favourite venues of the Fringe is Greenside @ Riddles Court, which is just off the Royal Mile and a short walk from Edinburgh Castle. An events location for 11 months of the year, in August Greenside Venues operate the building. Riddles Court is home to a relaxing outdoor bar and two theatrical spaces, offering a place for respite and entertainment in and amongst the excitement of the festival. Surrounded by restaurants, its city centre position makes it ideal for an evening show. Across the 2022 and 2023 festivals, I have watched shows in both the Thistle Theatre and Willow Studio.
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose
Located on Chambers Street, Patter Hoose opened in 2019 and is a relatively new addition to the Gilded Balloon portfolio, which also features the flagship Teviot and the Museum. There are five performance spaces inside the Patter Hoose building which has a bar on the ground floor and this year I visited both Other Yin and Doonstairs. These small theatres offer spectators fantastic views of the stages and I hope to visit again in the future. A note for anyone trying to find the building via GPS, data coverage in this part of the city is limited so you may find that your connection drops out nearby. I recommend taking a screenshot of a map before you head over to the venue, just in case you lose internet.
theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall
Surgeons’ Hall is the head office of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and within the premises is the associated museum. During the month of August the venue becomes theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall (operated by theSpace) and it houses various smaller locations. Last year I watched the Durham Dynamics (University of Durham a cappella choir) perform in the Grand Theatre and for 2023 I reviewed Wendy, My Darling in the Stephenson Theatre.
theSpace @ Symposium Hall
Of the venues that I have visited so far, theSpace @ Symposium Hall is one of the hardest to find. At the consecutive festivals we approached Hill Square from the Chambers Street direction and the area of Edinburgh with poor data coverage, managing to get lost on route both times due to a lack of Google Maps. If you can, allow extra time for getting here so that you don’t risk almost missing the show. Once you get past the issues of finding Hill Square, theSpace @ Symposium Hall is a fabulous theatre for music productions. The acoustics are brilliant and the Night Owl Shows band have really found a home here.
Assembly George Square
On the University of Edinburgh campus you can find George Square, which is full of Assembly venues and food stalls. I mentioned this location already in my Edinburgh Fringe highlights, but the area is a really fun place to relax between shows, offering some different food options. There are several venues across the square and the signage is ultra clear, so you can easily find your way around. It’s a 10-15 minute walk from the Royal Mile and next door to Bristo Square, so a very popular district of the city for Fringe events.
Assembly Rooms is a grand venue on George Street, which hosts the Music Hall, Ballroom, and Drawing Room inside the premises and Bijou and Front Room A outside. Over our two trips I have visited the Music Hall three times, learning how different genres of acts take over the venue’s expansive stage. This year my Mum saw the musical version of Sunshine On Leith at the Bijou marquee in the middle of George Street and thought it was fantastic. Having grown up in Scotland, she loved The Proclaimers soundtrack and the show’s connections to the city of Edinburgh.
Hill Street Theatre
Located in a townhouse on the street of the same name, Hill Street Theatre is a small venue in the new town which hosts two festival performance spaces: the Dunedin and Alba Theatres. It is a few minutes walk from George Street and tucked away on a quieter road, away from the buzz of the nearby Assembly Rooms. We saw And They Played Shang-A-Lang here and whilst I wasn’t a fan of the show, the audience seemed to love it and it was great to add a new venue to my list. My top tip for this venue is to remove any jackets before you go in. It is extremely warm inside the auditorium!
Paradise in Augustines
Another venue that I talk about in detail in my Edinburgh Fringe favourites is Paradise in Augustines. Based in the Augustine United Church and operated by Paradise Green, at this venue you can watch shows inside a majestic church. With raised seating, a large stage and space for a live band, it is a great location for putting on large musical theatre productions. I’ve been to the venue twice, seeing Bare Productions’ version of Kinky Boots in 2022 and reviewing their production of RENT this year.
Street events on the Royal Mile
The Royal Mile hosts various street events throughout the festival, with the itinerary accessible on the Fringe’s website. I never earmark enough time for watching the performers, but one year I would like to stand for an hour, watching the relaxed performances on offer.
Scratching the surface of venues
There are loads of Fringe venues in Edinburgh and these are just a few of the locations you might come across. Part of the fun of going to the Fringe is being able to watch shows in a variety of converted performance spaces and in combination with the spectacular festival talent, it’s another reason why I hope to keep coming back year after year.
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx