Welcome to Edinburgh Festival!

Fancy a date with a naked Scotsman? How about a sing-a-long of Shakespeare’s Hamlet?

Combine that with some pints of Scottish ale and a drunken rendition of ‘now I know my BBC’ and maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a day’s worth of the Edinburgh Festival covered.

That’s right ladies and gents, roll up roll up, because it’s back again.

What is the Edinburgh Festival?

In early August, the beautiful capital of Scotland undergoes a rather sudden and drastic transformation. This somewhat odd tradition has continued for the past 63 years and shows no sign of slowing down. Within the period of a few days, a historic city famous for its Medieval castles, stone tenements and occasional Scottish kilts becomes a rip-roaring playhouse of enthusiastic artisans letting their creative juices go wild in a veritable 21st century enlightenment.

Honestly, Shakespeare’s ‘all the world’s a stage’ never did ring more true.

It even has a name… the Edinburgh Festival.

Tracing its roots back to 1947, the umbrella term ‘Edinburgh Festival’ is now used in reference to several simultaneous arts and culture events taking place in the capital. While the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival of performing arts are by far the largest of these, the International Film Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival, Festival of Spirituality and Peace, Book Festival, People’s Festival, Interactive Festival, Art Festival, Festival of Politics, Swing Festival, Comedy Festival and Harvest Festival all have a role to play.

That’s one awful lot of festivals. But hey, as they say, the more the merrier!

In 2010, it looks like Edinburgh is set to offer just as many weird, wonderful, dramatic and hilarious performances as ever. On the one hand, this means entertainment value is at a premium – you’ll never be at a loss for things to do. On the other, a packed daily schedule of comedies, lunches, dramas, dinners, cabarets and cocktails isn’t exactly conducive to tightening your purse strings.

The thing is, Edinburgh Festival just cannot be missed. And we are firm believers that you should never have to pay a premium for a fun time. Keeping that in mind, we’ve put together some top 5 tips on where to eat and stay during your budget trip to Edinburgh…

Top 5 Cheap Eats

When your days are jam-packed with festival highlights, who really has the time for a home cooked meal? Cheap and cheerful, these top five eats are some of the best that Edinburgh has to offer.

Spoon Café: While it may not look like much from the outside, Spoon Café offers a range of French-inspired entrees, mains and desserts for a bargain price. Think potted duck with cornichons, hake with chorizo and blood sausage, and venison bourguignon, all for less than €15 per head. Just one warning: vegetarians – steer clear.

Chop Chop: Voted best Chinese restaurant in Scotland, Chop Chop offers a range of truly delicious dumplings made freshly in-house. An unlimited banquet for four comes to €21.75 per person.

Monster Mash: The ultimate in comfort food, Monster Mash is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering everything from shepherd’s pie to sausages’n’mash, banana splits and cups of Tetleys tea. Meals are from €8 per person.

Valvona & Crolla Caffe Bar: The best place for coffee in Edinburgh! Open for lunch and dinner, with meals including antipasto, pizza, frittata and pasta, all made from authentic Italian ingredients, and all for less than €12 per head.

Roti: An innovative Indian tapas-style restaurant and wine bar. Check out the ‘tiffin for a tenner’ deal, offering ‘proper home food’ as cooked by generations of Indian mothers.

Top 5 Cheap Sleeps

Booking a hostel during the Edinburgh festival is easier than it sounds. While there are a wide range of cheap accommodations on offer, actually managing to secure a place at one of these can be a battle, particularly if you have left it to the last minute. Luckily, we’ve found some budget rooms that are still free…just make sure to get in quickly!

Art House Hostel: If you’re in it for the long haul, the Art House currently has rooms available for the duration of the festival. While, at €80 per night, it is slightly more expensive than other hostels in the area, this is made up for by its superior quality and bonus extras including a hostel cinema, art gallery and music room.

The Globetrotter Inn Edinburgh: A relaxing, clean and incredibly-priced four-star hostel offering comfortable beds, internet café, mini-supermarket, movie room and water front bar. Rooms are still available at €11.94 per night.

Panmure Court: Just five minutes walk to Princes Street and a range of festival venues, Panmure Court offers 59 chic studios with fully fitted kitchens and ensuites, flat screen TV and Internet access. With its summer sale still on, prices are currently €53.70 per night.

Smart City Hostels Edinburgh: A friendly five-star hostel located in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, the final rooms at Smart City Hostels for this Edinburgh Festival are sure to be snapped right up. Shared rooms are still available from €22.68 per night, and private rooms from €31.33 per night.

Argyle Backpackers: Located a ten minute walk from the city centre, Argyle Backpackers provides a comfortable and relaxed homely environment after a long day spent at the festival. Dorm rooms are still on offer for €22.68 per night.

Still at a loss for where to stay? Got a big group of people or left your booking too late? Why not check out our range of hostels in Glasgow. Honestly, it’s not as far away as you think! In fact, Glasgow is less than an hour from Edinburgh by train. And, believe us, if it’s a matter of travelling for an hour or not going to the festival at all, you definitely want to pick the former! This is an event not to be missed.

Thanks to fergyboiSwiss Bones, Taylor Dundee, theedinburghblog and SmartCityHostelsEdinburgh for the images off flickr.

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