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What to plan... and what to leave

Some folk come to Edinburgh without any particular plan, then just roll out of their bed each morning and decide what to do over breakfast; at the other extreme, a few souls turn up each year clutching colour-coded Excel spreadsheets they've been working on since June.

Either approach works fine, and we wouldn't presume to tell you what's right for you: but there are, perhaps, a few common mistakes to avoid.

Leaving room for the unknown 

If you are an advance-planner, try not to over- book. While you're in Edinburgh, you're sure to hear gossip about shows you hadn't considered, but you'd now quite like to see - so it's best to leave space in your schedule for a little spontaneity. In fact, planning too early may work against you, as you might find yourself locked into seeing a performance which has been comprehensively panned in the reviews.

Advance booking
"For the bulk of Fringe performances, you'll get away with booking just a few days before the show - giving you plenty of time to check reviews before you commit yourself"
It does make sense to book a few tickets well in advance: this is particularly true of events at the International Festival, Book Festival and Jazz and Blues Festival, which often sell out quickly. At the Fringe, it's wise to plan ahead if you want to see big-name acts on specific days. For the bulk of Fringe performances, though, you'll comfortably get away with booking just a few days before the show - giving you plenty of time to check the word on the street and reviews in the newspapers before you commit yourself.

How much is too much?

The other common mistake is, predictably, trying to do too much. Three shows in a day is perfectly sensible, and four is reasonable enough if you're packing it in; five or more, while scientifically feasible, is a symptom to be viewed with some concern.

It can be very hard to choose, but let's face it - there are few really life-changing shows in the world. Missing that borderline addition you're shoe-horning into your schedule won't really matter as much as it seems. On the other hand, running across the city because your previous show ran late, going hungry because you didn't have time for dinner or simply feeling too exhausted to enjoy your evenings will all conspire to spoil the Edinburgh experience. So if you find you've planned to fill every moment - chill out, scale back, and make the space to enjoy everything the city has to offer at Festival time.

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Edinburgh 2013

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