… sorry, the what Balloon? I should see how many shows? I can stay out until what time?
Edinburgh’s International Festival, Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Assembly, Gilded Balloon, the Tattoo and the rest. For some, Edinburgh is a minefield throughout August, to others it’s the greatest time of the year and to locals, it is hell! Plain and simple. If you are like me you know what the festival is, you can find your way to George Square Gardens (and will possibly find yourself there more times in one week than you care to admit), you don’t raise an eyebrow at the fire breathing street performer encouraging you to ‘give it a go’, you know every route around the old town just so you can avoid hounds of tourists and you have sat through your fair share of ‘free fringe’ shows all the while swearing you will never make that mistake again!
It’s a strange time of year; beers are acceptable on Tuesday afternoon and a quiet weekend in just doesn’t exist in August because why would it! There is so much to do, so much to see and just when you thought you couldn’t fall in love with Edinburgh anymore, the nightly fireworks remind you that you are, in actual fact, wrong!
However, if you find yourself in Edinburgh this month and decide that crowds of people taking part in a silent disco on almost every street isn’t your cup of tea then steer clear of the festival ‘hot spots’ and take a trip to a few of the hidden gems Edinburgh has to offer, even if it is just to get a breather from the electric madness of the Royal Mile!
PITT STREET MARKET
Make your way to Canonmills and take the Water of Leith walkway to one of my favourite places n the city. Tucked down a residential street hidden away from the city centre find the streetfood yard selling some of the best street food Edinburgh has to offer with incredible live music, even better beer and a buzzing atmosphere! Disclaimer: You’ll not want to leave! Given the number of street food vendors that station in the city centre during the fringe, this August you can check out the ‘Stripped Back Pitt’ enjoying food from foodie favourites including Barnicles and Bones, Melted, Rost and Buffalo. You can check out the all new Pianodrome situated indoors made entirely from recycled piano’s! It’s absolutely worth a visit but don’t make the journey through the week, The Pitt St Market is only open Saturdays and Sundays 11am – 10pm!
‘A killer wardrobe without killing the planet’
New kid on the block, Treen, is a vegan fashion retailer taking up space at Space Seventeen on St Stephens Street, Stockbridge! Mill over gorgeous pieces from a range of carefully selected brands and chat with owner Cat Anderson who only launched this forward thinking masterpiece in July of this year! Fast fashion is the phrase on everyone’s lips but getting away from it is something we all struggle with, pay Cat a visit and I’ll be surprised if you leave without falling in love with something, even if that’s just Nessy the shop dog!
THE PASTRY SECTION
You woke late and need breakfast on the go? You have an hour to kill and a coffee stop to people watch is high on your agenda? Or actually, you have no excuse and just want cake? Then don’t mess about, make your way to Stockbridge and find this cute contemporary bakehouse among the range of independent stores on Raeburn Place. Feast your eyes on some of the most incredible creations and flavour combinations you didn’t imagine possible all baked from scratch in store. Decide between a cinnamon bun, ginger cake with biscoff icing, banoffe tart, the humble brownie or a seasonal favourite! Wash it down with your choice of tea or coffee and pass the time with the friendliest staff who are more than happy to answer any questions you might have or simply chat the day away!
The Edinburgh Grand has been one of the most exciting openings in the city for some time, additions seem to get better and better as the space inside fills with new and exciting vendors but for me, the most exciting offering is just getting warmed up. Enter Cavefit. A raw, top class gym focused on high intensity workouts matched with changing club lights and blaring music to get you through another 10 burpee’s.
Forget the outside world as you climb down into the Cave and bare all for 45 minutes through a gruelling and intense CaveFIT class as the coaches hold nothing back to ensure you leave with nothing left in the tank (just the desire for a better Spotify playlist)! The only thing that beats the workout are the showers on offer and pamper station fully kitted out with GHD hairdryers and Rag and Bone hair products. Believe me, you will be planning your next visit before the coach says ‘finisher’.
CaveFIT. Humble. Hungry.
Hop on a bus down Leith Walk and feel the crowds disappear as you arrive at the shore for a little R+R from the fringe antics. Enjoy brunch in Toast, one of my favourites on the water’s edge, grab lunch at East Pizza and don’t even think about sharing because, it’s too good (and all locally produced!) or if it’s a pamper you are after book a blow dry from one of the fabulous team in SESH hairdressing! Talk a dander and enjoy the independent charm the shore has to offer – if you fancy spending the night there, grab a wrist band for the Chill Fest Leith and enjoy £5 cocktails in almost 20 bars around the shore and beyond! Choose Leith!
A boujee hideaway in the appropriately named Edinburgh Grand building situated on St Andrews Square. Slip away from the manic streets of the city and find a booth with your name on it in an old refurbished Grade A listed building for a spot of lunch. Hawksmoor, famous for amazing meat cuts, are offering a lunch time special for £25 for two courses or only £28 for three! Including a Yorkshire pudding adventure you don’t want to miss, some of the freshest fish and succulent steak I’ve had the pleasure of eating and the promise of peanut butter shortbread with salted caramel ice cream to wash it all down, you can’t really go far wrong with this place!
If you do find yourself swanning through the city and taking in the sights of which ever festival your fancy yourself a liking, one word of advice – not to take the flyers from those trying to sell their show as the best in the business. You will end up with a handbag or back pocket with enough paper to make your own Fringe catalogue for 2020…
Whatever you get up to, have fun and if you find yourself in George Square Gardens I might just see you there!
Chat soon, Caoilfhionn x