Gemma Cairney’s Edinburgh Scrapbook: The Presenter Shares Her Top Tips For The Edinburgh Fringe

Gemma Cairney's Edinburgh Scrapbook


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Gemma Cairney Edinburgh Festival

GALLERY>> Gemma Cairney's Edinburgh Scrapbook1 of 11

GALLERY>> Gemma Cairney's Edinburgh Scrapbook

1. Get the sleeper train2 of 11

1. Get the sleeper train

  1. That's right, the sleeper train. I'm never looking back. It's like a twisted early Ab Fab, Orient Express special. Don some pink pyjamas, a la my friend Georgia. Drink red wine in the buffet car at midnight then plonk your heads down in a cabin, complete with bed and adjoining door to your mate. You wake up in Scotland, with ScotRail's glamour puss Mary tapping on your door with a sausage sandwich. The sleeper train rocks.
2. Fish for a future super star3 of 11

2. Fish for a future super star

Nasi Voutsas is a beautiful specimen. He is one to watch, starring in arts fund winning 'Where The White Stops' from young theatre company 'Antler'. As an ensemble they capture the magic of The Fringe - stumbling into extraordinary talent on an afternoon is the way the fringe should be. 'Where the white stops' is a tale of a Tim Burton-esque snowy world with its characters longing for more. It's weird and it's wonderful & there are some flipping cool sheepskin rugs made into clothes. Lovely. GO SEE IT.

3. Refuel4 of 11

3. Refuel

Simples. Stop at the end of Edinburgh’s notorious Grassmarket, you'll find yourself magnetised to a cosy juice bar called Hula where you can choose a juice with a kooky name. We were so boosted by carrot and ginger we bounced to our next show.

4. FREENESS5 of 11


So she won't like me telling you, because it's a bit of a secret BUT you should see it, because it's funny & it's free. Did you love Daria in the 90's? Then get yourself along to see Jessie Cave in her debut stand up on the Free Fringe circuit. It is a characterful, dizzy amalgamation of neurosis and matters of the heart. Jessie played Lavender Brown in Harry Potter, but Cave is a marvel in her own right.

5. Where to stay btw?6 of 11

5. Where to stay btw?

It's hard. The city gets booked up! If you are of the spontaneous type and trying to impress someone sexy, then The Balmoral is your spot. It’s all sumptuous, velvety green and has a pool where you can swim out the sins. OR if you looking for something a cheaper, Snoozebox is a super temporary hotel, made of shipping containers with ensuite wet rooms, of course.

6. Bryony Kimmings’ Credible, Likeable, Superstar, Rolemodel7 of 11

6. Bryony Kimmings’ Credible, Likeable, Superstar, Rolemodel

Performance artist Bryony starts a role model revolution in amongst a loud festival. She screams & demands your attention, through dance, sartorial sharpness & the help of her 9-year-old niece, also in the show. See this, see this, see this. I can’t stress more how you must see this.

7. Avenue Q?8 of 11

7. Avenue Q?

I wouldn't have expected to say it but, Avenue Q. It's not really the thing to do when at a fringe festival... Go & see a ‘West End’ show. Especially if it’s some puppets that have somehow mastered emotional trigger points for adults. It’s life affirming, all singing, all dancing tear inducing feel good stuff that makes you feel like how you felt when you first watched Sesame St.

8. Arthur's seat9 of 11

8. Arthur's seat

This is not the name of conceptual improv group. It's traditional beautiful Scotland at it's best, it's a hill, that you walk up in thirty five(ish) minutes and the grass is spongy enough to take off your shoes & dance a little bit when you are up there. It's the perfect thought gathering, obligatory view snapping, moment.

9. Posh Ice cream10 of 11

9. Posh Ice cream

This is where I wanted to encourage you to eat the fruits of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. We were booked to go to see Susan Greenfield, a leading neuroscientist & novelist, but we overslept. That afternoon we went to the gorgeously, fabulous Hotel Missoni, took selfies in the toilets and ordered homemade sorbet which I’d highly recommend!

10. SHOPPING. Make a dash for it.11 of 11

10. SHOPPING. Make a dash for it.

Again, like Arthur's seat, you can do this ANYTIME in Edinburgh & I suggest that if you get the opportunity you do, when you see great things it’s good to give yourself time to digest, let it sink in and buy a tutu? My favourite is Armstong vintage (one of three in the city) on the Grassmarket. It is dressing up box good times, at it's total best.With a special special mention to Herman Brown which is a bit off the beaten track but again supremely sourced vintage.

I've had my head blown clean off. My imagination close to melting, I've spent the last four nights gulping up Edinburgh. Edinburgh in August is the proud, pigeon chested host of not only the most known festival, The Fringe, but The Book Festival , The Art Festival, The International Festival, oh, and the TV one too.

The gothic city nearly triples in population and there are fireworks every night as part of theRoyal Military Edinburgh Tattoo. Flags have been erected on top of historic buildings beaming one simple word 'Hello' welcoming the world to have their minds pumped with everything & anything from terrible stand up (that might make your toes curl with thunderous embarrassment), to a physical frenzy from some bendy, human Stretch Armstrong, Danish male theatre troop that make you scream for more at the end of their sold out show . It is bananas, it is intense, it is relentless. But it's amazing. Now breathe.

If you are off to Edinburgh this month then here is my personal top ten, think of it as me stuffing you a fistful of flyers that are worth it .You never know, it could hopefully help you insert some method to the madness?

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