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How to get the tickets

You might expect buying the tickets to be the easy part of Festival planning - but in Edinburgh, it's not always that way. First of all, you need to account for the fact there are a number of separate Festivals running simultaneously, each with its own ticketing system. And at the largest of those Festivals, the Edinburgh Fringe, there are separate booking arrangements for most of the independent venues as well.

FringeGuru's Plan Your Visit section explains these different festivals, and the complementary specialities of each one. When you're armed with that information - and a bit of our Festival know-how - it's not hard to navigate your way between the box offices. And once you're connected to the right system, there's certainly no shortage of ways to book: you can get your tickets in person, by phone or online.

Which Festival?

Stack of Festival programmesWhen it's time to get tickets for the Edinburgh Festival, the first question to ask is - which Edinburgh Festival? Depending on how you count, there are up to ten separate Festivals in Edinburgh during August - each with their own ticketing arrangements and a separate box office. It's confusing at first, but if you remember a few rules of thumb you'll go easily to the right place first time.

It is true to say that the vast majority of tickets sold are for just one of the Festivals - the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. As luck would have it, though, the Fringe itself has the most complex ticketing system of all, making a wild goose chase for Fringe tickets particularly frustrating. So, unless you're absolutely sure - it's worth a quick check before you dive in.

Getting tickets for the Fringe

Fringe box officeThe amorphous Edinburgh Festival Fringe is by far the largest of Edinburgh's Festivals, spanning over 250 venues across the city centre. Its sheer size and variety makes for some unusually complex ticketing arrangements - and if you want to get your tickets without spending your days in queues, it's well worth getting your head around them before you come to Edinburgh.

If you remember nothing else about Fringe ticketing, remember this: there are two completely different ways of getting tickets for Fringe shows. You can either buy through the central box office run by the Fringe itself, or go directly through the venue (or chain of venues) hosting the performance.

Getting tickets for the International Festival (EIF)

Despite its status as the world's premier arts festival, seats for the EIF aren't that hard to get hold of, and for many performances at least some tickets will be available on the door. However, the more affordable tickets sell out fast and it's difficult to predict how popular a particular event will be - so, with box offices opening right back in April, it's sensible to book up as soon as you know what you want to see.

Getting tickets for the fireworks

Special arrangements apply to the end-of-Festival fireworks, which ring the curtain down on the whole affair in the first week of September. Though most of the crowds have headed for home well before the fireworks go bang, the annual show makes a spectacular final treat for local residents - or those few visitors who have hung around until the very end.

Getting tickets for the Book Festival

Book Festival ticket tent
Courtesy Edinburgh International Book Festival
The Book Festival has the simplest ticketing arrangements of all the Edinburgh festivals, thanks to its compact location at Charlotte Square.

Getting tickets for the Jazz & Blues Festival

Courtesy Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival
Ticketing for the Jazz and Blues Festival is run by the Edinburgh International Festival's box office, known as The Hub. This means that the arrangements are almost exactly the same as for the EIF - great news, as you get the benefits of The Hub's effortlessly efficient booking system.

Getting tickets for the Tattoo

The phenomenal success of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo means that, if you're particular about the tickets you want, you may need to plan your campaign with appropriately military precision. Whereas, back in the 1990's, seats were often available on the day of the performance itself, these days some dates are sold out as early as January.

Getting tickets for the other festivals

Edinburgh's smaller and newer festivals generally have less formal booking arrangements, often based on direct contact with the venue concerned.


Edinburgh 2013

Coming to the Fringe this year?  We can help you make the most of your time.  Learn about Edinburgh's summer Festivals and plan your visit around the city's major events. 

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