Edinburgh Festival really is for everyone. Once upon a time I may have been frequenting late night comedy shows and whiling away my hours in a Pimms bar. But since kids, if anything, I’ve actually embraced the festival even more. If anyone is wondering how to get the best out of the festival this year, I thought I’d just share a few of my top tips for enjoying Edinburgh Festival with Kids
Go early and hang out before shows (and don’t be put off by the rain!)
Children’s Shows are often at venues with additional entertainment. One year, Russell Square even had this gyspy caravan that the kids could explore. Admittedly, it smelt rather of beer but it didn’t bother the kids and made me feel more genuine ‘festival’ for me. Katie usually likes to select her own ‘festival’ outfits and I have to say, I still mourn the day that she grew out of these shoes!
The Pleasance in the last few years particularly has been great for having colouring or craft activities for kids as well. It gives adults time for coffee and just means there’s no panic about being late or getting decent seats.
Leave the buggy at home!
Trying to navigate the Royal Mile as an adult during peak festival time is difficult enough. Getting through the crowd with a buggy is another matter. The M25 at rush hour has nothing on the Mile during the festival.
Happily enough there’s loads to look at – but not if you’re in a pram stuck between loads of people!
That said, I’ve never been pushed around and actually find everyone is pretty nice about making room for the kids. There’s LOADS of great shows happening down the mile, with many performers popping up to give tasters of their shows on the small stages. The street performers are usually on great form and actually – it’s a cool place to spend time with the kids BUT just not with a buggy. My solution has been to either use my sling or to utilise our back carrier with the added bonus that Thomas gets a great view too.
Don’t be overly ambitious.
Whilst I would love to say that every show I’ve ever been to has been amazing – I can’t. Watching an hour long adaptation of a kids book that’s actually only about 8 pages long was not fun. It felt so much longer and as they forced yet another song in… I really needed gin. So my rule is now to find a show that’s 45-50 minutes tops. If it’s amazing and I’m left wanting more then brilliant. If it’s painful and I want to gouge my eyes out – then it’s only 45 minutes.
Be proactive in finding reviews.
The exception to rule number three is if the show comes with amazing reviews. The vast majority of parents in Edinburgh are very friendly. If you approach a random parent at a show and ask them to what they’ve been to already then chances are you’ll get some honest reviews!
Shows can be very pricey so I like to go to things I KNOW will be good. I’m delighted to see that ‘Children are Stinky‘ is back for another year which Katie really enjoyed last year (and had my friend Jo and I dancing along to the cheesy tunes). And I absolutely cannot wait to see Thomas’ reaction to Nick Cope’s Family Song Book. He already goes nuts every time he finds his music on Hopster so I’m really looking forward to seeing his reaction to a show live!
We actually went to one show when Thomas was around 10 days old (hence the milk spots) but as we had been the previous year – we knew it would be good. Katie was allowed right up the front and they were totally cool with kids just going crazy to the music. With so many kids shows you absolutely don’t have to worry about keeping them in their seats. A decent one goes with what the kids want!
Don’t discount the free stuff!
As I mentioned there’s loads going on at venues before shows and along the Royal Mile; but there are some pretty decent free shows too. Admittedly, there’s not a lot of these advertised but Ceilidh Kids is usually worth a look in and just keep your eye out for fliers. Although on that note, expect to be handed enough leaflets to wallpaper a large room!
However, the most obvious ‘free’ event is the end of festival fireworks. They really can be seen from so many viewing points in the city. Some parks even have the music streamed which adds to the atmosphere. It may be a bit of a late night – but sharing hot chocolate from a flask as a special treat really is a nice end to it all!
What are your tips for enjoying the festival with kids? Have you got any shows booked yet for this year? I’ll be trying to share reviews here so make sure you check back if you’re needing inspiration!